14 February 2010

As they say, "Those who can't do, teach."

     Well, I don't know if I'd go quite that far in describing Hensley Meulens, as he had a fairly successful career in the minors and in foreign leagues (except for Korea), but he certainly never made an impact on Major League pitching. At the moment, Bam Bam is getting a lot of coverage by baseball media, as San Francisco has handed him the task of making hitters out of the Giants' lineup of wind machines. Perhaps he can reach them with his vast language skills and explain to them that their purpose at the plate is to reach base, and not just create a gentle, cooling breeze for the pitcher.

     Anyway, back in 2003, Meulens put his playing days behind him (partially thanks to an injury during the 2002 Mexican League season) and took up the challenge of imparting some of his 16 years of professional experience on a new generation of young players, and was hired by the Bluefield Orioles of the Appalachian League, Baltimore's rookie ball affiliate. Looking at the roster for 2003, most of the players were signed as undrafted free agents, and the rest were universally late round draftees, the lowest being 4th rounder, Tim Gilhooly (for whom 2003 would be his last of two seasons).

     Typically, rookie ball isn't where your promising young phenoms start out, they typically begin their career at A+ or AA, depending on maturity level, so I guess Bluefield was as good a place as any to start out a rookie hitting coach. Looking at the lackluster roster, almost all of whom would be out of organized baseball within two years (none reaching the Majors), Meulens first year coaching had to have been one of endless frustration with the team batting an anemic .238 and finishing a single game out of last place. However, he probably learned a lot that season. In any case, he is seen here, early in the 2003 season, just happy to be here, on his first baseball card as a coach.

     The set was produced by Grandstand Cards, who started producing sets for minor league teams in 1997. I don't think they're around anymore, as I can't find any information on the company, but they were issuing sets up to at least 2006. At the time, they were the only company aside from Best, producing minor league team sets on a wide scale. In 1998, Multi-Ad would enter the market (as Best was leaving), and Choice Marketing would join them in 1999.


  1. Grandstand was still around as of last year. They did sets for West Tenn and State College among others. Last year's design looked kind of like the 1959 Topps set.

    Check out www.stbsports.com to see the cards.

    When I collected minor league cards, I always thought that Grandstand did the best job. Multi-Ad had a lot of ugly designs and Choice always seemed to have blurry pictures.

  2. I stand corrected! Since none of STB, Lake County or Gulf Coast list the card producers, and Beckett long since gave up including products they don't get free "promotional" samples from, I wasn't sure. Multi-Ad and Choice both have websites, but I couldn't find anything for Grandstand.

  3. I know on STB's website if you click on the "more details" link for a particular team set, it will sometimes mention who produced the card set. That's how I figured out Grandstand was still around (since I'm not collecting minor league cards anymore).