08 June 2016

Hensley Meulens International League Hall of Fame Induction

     Hensley Meulens spent parts of six seasons in the International League as a player, most notably 1988-1993 with the Columbus Clippers, and 1997 with the Ottawa Lynx.  Once his playing days were over, he returned as a hitting coach for the Indianapolis Indians from 2005-2008.   I don't take much time off work, but this week I made an exception and drove up to Columbus, Ohio, to witness the induction of Sir Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens into the International League Hall of Fame.  Below is my shaky cell phone video of the ceremony.

     It was a beautiful evening for baseball at Huntington Park, with a season-high crowd of 11,373 turning out for the event.  I guess some of them also showed up to see the Clippers face the Indians (not a good night for Ross Detwiler and the Clippers) or maybe for Sugardale Dime-A-Dog night (10 cent hot dogs!).  In any event, in honor of Sir Bam Bam, the team was giving away these canvas printed plaques covering his career with the Clippers:

     I had really hoped to get a chance to finally meet the man himself, but it just never happened, mostly because I got wrapped up in the game and didn't think to go hang out by the Hall of Fame plaque after the ceremony.  However, he did notice me!  I was sitting in the front row behind the plate, right by the Clippers dugout, wearing my Hensley Meulens San Francisco Giants 2010 World Series away jersey, and he saw me from the second level box where he was sitting with his family and sent this down to me:
     He did smile and wave to me when he came through the dugout onto the field.

     The I.L. Hall of Fame now occupies two of these plaques, so next year they will need to start on a third.  Out front of the stadium is a bronze statue of Harold Cooper, the business man who brought baseball back to Columbus after the Cardinals had moved the previous affiliate (the Columbus Red Birds) to Omaha following the 1954 season.  Cooper bought the International League team in Ottawa and relocated them to Columbus, establishing the Columbus Jets.  Fast Forward to 1970, and unable to work out a deal for improvements to their existing stadium the team was again sold and was moved to Charleston, West Virginia, and became the Charleston Charlies.  The Clippers began in Columbus in 1977, in the same stadium, and in 1984 it was officially renamed "Cooper Stadium".  Harold Cooper is in the upper left corner of the plaque below.  Hensley Meulens is in the lower right.

  Here is a closeup of 2016's inductees:

1 comment:

  1. This is really cool. It's a shame you didn't get to meet him but really cool that he sent the autograph down to you.