All hail Mike Hessman the Barry Bonds of the Minors

First of all a bit about myself. I’m just an ordinary guy who likes sport and has strong views about the way sport (and Britain) are run. I’ll be writing when I feel like it about whatever I feel like writing about. And who knows someone might like it.

Although I’m from Britain I’m a big fan of baseball and a couple of days ago I noticed something on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. Namely that Mike Hessman of the Toledo Mud Hens(the Detroit Tiger’s Triple A team) had hit his 400th career Minor League home run, only the fourth man in the history of baseball to do that in American Minor League circuits. The others being Buzz Arlett, Nick Cullop and Merv Connors. So what people will say? After all you only hit 400 home runs in the Minor Leagues if you can’t hack it in the majors.That is true. In his 109 game Major League career he hit .188 (which is not good – anything below .200 is considered unacceptable for a Major League hitter – although he did have 14 home runs and 33 RBIs.) He is now 36 years old which means he is unlikely to be gracing the Majors again. Baseball Prospectus – the baseball players Who’s Who – said of him “he is what materialized when baseball scientists asked “what if it is possible to achieve higher than 80 power by giving the specimen 20s everywhere else?” (Baseball Prospectus 2014, page 178). You get the impression they don’t think he’s very good. So why should this guy be celebrated?. Simple. The fact is 98% of minor league players never reach the Majors(No girls in the Clubhouse, Marilyn Cohen, page 108). He did. Secondly to be still slogging away in the Minors at 36 suggests he truly loves his sport. He has found his true level. And that is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact he should be proud.

The fact is this guy represents most baseball players – indeed most sportspeople (and fans). The vast majority of us aren’t Miguel Cabrera Mike Trout or Justin Verlander. We are just average to poor players. We can identify with this guy. He has more in common with the rest of us than the small elite we see in televised sport. He should be celebrated. The record for home runs in the Minors is 432 held by Buzz Arlett. Hessman might pass that record before his career is done. In which case he would become “the Barry Bonds of the Minors”. And one other point. He will have done it without the aid of performance enhancing drugs.

Finally if you want to read a good blog I’d recommend Jennifer Doyle’s “The Sport Spectacle”(http://www.thesportspectacle.com). Always an interesting and provocative read. even if you don’t agree with some of it…

Update: On August 3rd 2015 Hessman hit his 433rd Minor League home run beating Arlett’s record. And it was a Grand Slam! Congratulations Mike you deserve this record. With the Tigers’ play off hopes being slim at best it would be a sentimental gesture for the them to give Mike some big League at bats at the end of the season…

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One thought on “All hail Mike Hessman the Barry Bonds of the Minors”

  1. Mike Hessman is someone I’d certainly like to know more about having read this, it’s be interesting to know why he failed in the majors. Perhaps the rating of 20 in all areas except power explains it!

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