Hensley Meulens: the most interesting man in baseball


  • He was the first Curaçaoan to play in Major League Baseball and the first player ever to suit up for all four major Caribbean winter leagues
  • He speaks English, Spanish, Dutch, Papiamento and Japanese
  • He’s nicknamed after a Flintstones character, Bam-Bam, thanks to his hitting prowess playing softball as a teenager
  • He’s been awarded with the Order of Orange-Nassau by Queen Beatrix, which is a chivalry order of the Netherlands that is the equivalent of knighthood
  • He’s currently in his sixth season of Major League coaching in 2015, serving as the hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants
  • And his teams don’t always win the World Series, but they’re three-for-five so far.

He is baseball’s most interesting man, and his name is Hensley Meulens.

Prior to joining SF’s organization, Meulens led the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the semifinals of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, served as a triple-A hitting coach for the Indianapolis Indians (in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, 2005-08) and with the Fresno Grizzlies (San Francisco, 2009). He also coached at rookie-level Bluefield in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization, for the Peoria Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League (2005) and for the Honolulu Sharks (2006 offseason).

In addition to his duties with the Giants, Meulens runs the Dutch Antilles Baseball Academy back home in Curaçao, where it all began. Inside Pitch managed to catch up with Meulens to break it all down.

Former top prospect in New York Yankees organization Named Carolina League Player of the Year (Baseball America, 1987) Led triple-A International League in home runs and RBI (26, 100) in 1992

Meulens was a top prospect for the Yankees, was named Carolina League Player of the Year (Baseball America, 1987) and led triple-A International League in home runs and RBI (26, 100) in 1992

Summarize your career as a player in 100 words or less.

“I was on the Dutch International team as an amateur and was assigned to the Yankees academy in the Dominican Republic. It was nice to be a top prospect but I ended up going up and down a lot. I played seventeen professional seasons and was first player from Curacao to make it to the major leagues, in 1989. I also played in Japan, Korea and Mexico. I learned a lot, playing all over the place like I did, and have been able to take that into coaching now.”

What best prepared you for your coaching career? What are the key factors to your philosophy?

“Having good coaches in my playing career prepared me for my coaching career. Getting to experience what it’s like as a player to ask for help and then go out and produce, you use some of that for your own [coaching] style. I try to be very patient and very energetic. I want our guys to be energized; it’s very easy to be lackadaisical in our game, it’s very easy to lose focus and not be into it. My goal is to get our guys to have 100 percent concentration and energy, so I try to bring that to the ballpark everyday myself.”

How about coaching hitters? What are some of the specifics?

“My philosophy is different for every hitter. Every player is different, so every philosophy has to be different. I try to teach our players nowadays that even though there is a lot of technology in the game, you still have to have that ‘feel’ aspect to improve performance. I like to mix it up- I use some technology and data, statistics- but all and all I feel like if guys can create feel for everything they do, they’ll have success. That’s the main thing I try to do.”

You’ve been the foremost ambassador for baseball from your country. What is the driving force behind the Dutch Antilles Baseball Academy?

“When I was coming up there wasn’t a lot of help in terms of coaching. People back home just didn’t know what it took to become a major leaguer because we didn’t have any!

“I’m teaching guys to make sure that school is the highest priority- go to school and study and get an education. They need to be student-athletes so if they don’t get drafted, they’ll still have an education. We have plenty of examples of how hard it is to play in the major leagues, how many guys have failed along the way. It’s not an easy proposition. I support parents who want to let their kids go to school in the states and let them play baseball. If they’re good enough they’ll get drafted and if they’re not they’ll have an education.

“I also like to work with our guys that have already been drafted and teach them what it really takes to become a major league player, how hard you have to work, how well you have to eat, how to get your rest. I bring mental training into everything once a week; that’s part of the game that can be taken for granted because guys don’t know. I’d say 80-85 of the game is mental. If you don’t have that mental strength you never get everything out of your physical abilities. Professional baseball takes a lot of hard work; it’s not for everybody.”

In six years as hitting coach, Meulens' Giants have won three World Series

In six years as hitting coach, Meulens’ Giants have won three World Series

What’s your goal as a coach?

“The goal is always to win. There’s no other goal. You don’t prepare to lose, you prepare to win. And we are preparing to win another championship. We want to get back to the World Series, we want to win, and that never gets old. We have a bunch of guys back that understand that and that have won it a couple times.”

Do you want to be a big league manager someday?

“I think it’s in the making. You have to be really patient somebody has to trust you. There are only 30 teams out there so it’s not easy. [Giants manager Bruce] Bochy is an advocate for me to become a manager, but the process is what it is, you’ve got to wait and you have to be patient. Hopefully somebody will give me a chance to do it someday. You have to trust God’s plan for you and I’ve always done that, as a player and as a coach. The path is decided for you, you just have to have faith. I have to say things have been going pretty good lately, but it’s not without a lot of help from God.”

What’s your advice to young players and coaches?

“Stay patient and work. Always have energy. Always continue to better yourself by reading, watching, asking questions about the game, being around people that know the game. All these things will give you more wisdom on the history of the game, which is so large that you can never learn enough of it. You never stop learning. I’m still learning, our players are still learning, the rest of the coaches are still learning. Watch games, talk to baseball people, those are the things that are going to take you a long ways.”

Interview with Willie Mays Aikens

aikens dugout
Willie Mays Aikens’ off-the-field story has been told before. A budding MLB superstar in his early 20s, his career would succumb to a 20-year prison sentence for crack cocaine charges. He’s admitted to living a past life where he smoked crack nearly every day and slept with prostitutes.

Understandably, people have overlooked the story of Aikens on the field, which is far less told and no less captivating. It is a story of how the game of baseball (and sports in general) can be a second home, a release, and in some cases, a redeemer. Continue reading

Coach Your Kids… how to embrace failure

failureSoon after the ball is placed in our hands and the bat on our shoulders, we are quickly introduced to the beautiful frustration of our sport, not as our national pastime, but as a game of failure. The sheer mass of failure in our game makes it that much different than all the rest. You’ve heard it a million times: the very best in baseball are FAILING seven out of every ten times. And in the heat of competition, that statistical nugget does very little to ease the pain of yet another 0fer.

But to the very best in the game, that failure can be a player’s greatest opportunity, or to those who decide to hang up the spikes, it can be their career’s death sentence. The fortunate part of it all is we are afforded a choice as to how exactly we get to handle our lack of success. We can choose to embrace the struggle and see it as an awesome chance to get better, or we can choose to wilt under the mounting pressure from not getting the job done.

So why should we welcome something that tear us up inside? Continue reading

Brian Doyle: an extended baseball family

Interview by Keith Madison

Brian Doyle has had an impactful and influential baseball career. He is best known for leading the Yankees with a .438 batting average in the 1978 World Series. His older brother Denny played in the Major Leagues with the Phillies, Angels and Red Sox. His twin brother Blake is currently the major league hitting coach with the Colorado Rockies. The three of them together were innovators in starting the Doyle Baseball School in 1978. The school has trained over 500,000 players and 300,000 coaches to date. The Doyle brothers were also pioneers in showcases (Doyle Bonanza) and coaches certification. Having competed against Brian in little league, high school and in the minor leagues, I thought it would be fun to talk baseball with him once again.

In an era prior to camps, showcases and travel ball, how did a young Brian Doyle develop his passion and skill for baseball?

Our father, Robert, was a very good amateur basketball and baseball player. He spent a lot of time in the backyard throwing, playing pepper and catching ground balls to us. When Blake, my identical twin, and I were in the 7th grade, Denny, my older brother, was in the Major Leagues with the Phillies. In a small, rural Kentucky town there was only one thing that occupied our time and that was sports. We played all sports, but baseball was the game that seemed to come naturally.

doyleYou come from a well known “baseball family.” How did your father and brothers impact your passion for the game and help you develop your skills?

Having a big brother eleven years older was a huge factor. Denny would come home from pro-ball to teach Dad and us. Dad would quickly make coaching adjustments. He was a good coach who knew “the only way to get better is to get smarter.” I was impacted at a very young age with that principle. So my skill level got better each year. The passion for the game comes from the desire to become better. Continue reading

Study Shows That Agility Improves Pitching Performance

Quick Pitch imageResearchers at Tarleton State University recently completed a study that examined the effectiveness of strength and conditioned protocols as they relate to the one thing all coaches care about- winning.

In the study, titled ‘Agility Measures Related to Game Performance of NCAA Baseball Pitchers,’ Andrew Wolfe, Jason Jones, Kayla Peak, Randy Martin and Joe Priest looked into the similarities between the pitching motion and the kinetic chain employed in agility tests which involve acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction. Continue reading

DBU’s Dan Heefner and the power of positive coaching

Dan Heefer talks to 2015 13th round MLB draft pick Daniel Salters (Cleveland Indians) (photo courtesy Dallas Baptist University)

Dan Heefer talks to 2015 13th round MLB draft pick Daniel Salters (Cleveland Indians) (photo courtesy Dallas Baptist University)

The Heefner file

• 2015 marks his eleventh season as head coach at DBU
• Recognized by Baseball America in 2013 as one of the Top 10 Coaches in College Baseball under the age of 40
• His teams have reached four NCAA Regionals and produced eight All-Americans, seven Freshman All-Americans and two Academic All-Americans
• 49 players he has coached have advanced to professional baseball
• Teams have been on mission trips to Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, served in San Gabriel Orphanage and volunteered for North Texas Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and Special Olympics
• Prior coaching experience as an assistant at DBU (2005-2007), Creighton (2002-2003) and Northern Iowa (2004)
• Two-time All-American as a player at Olivet Nazarene University
• He and wife Liz have five sons: Luke, David, Zachariah, Titus and Jacob

IP: Your team finished the 2015 regular season with the no. 1-ranked RPI in the country. Other than winning baseball games, what are some factors you look into to keep your RPI strong?

DH: “That’s one of our goals as a program, to have a high RPI, to get an at-large bid. The next step for us is to host a regional, so that is something that we take into consideration with scheduling. We don’t have a magic formula or anything; just like everybody else, we try to play quality opponents on a year-in, year-out basis. A lot of it also has to do with the area we’re in and the teams we’re surrounded by; it’s almost impossible not to schedule well.” Continue reading

abcaofficialThe ABCA Board of Directors voted in June to name Inside Pitch Magazine the Official Magazine of the American Baseball Coaches Association. With the move, all 2015-16 ABCA members will receive a free subscription to the magazine starting with the fall issue, which will be mailed with the October edition of Covering All Bases.

“This is a great magazine that our Board of Directors voted to put the ABCA name on,” said ABCA Executive Director Craig Keilitz. “In addition, the free subscription is another great benefit that our members have asked for and we were able to deliver. We are extremely excited about this enhanced partnership.”

In a survey conducted to ABCA members in May, 78 percent of respondents indicated they were interested in receiving Inside Pitchin the mail as part of their membership.

With the partnership, Inside Pitch will continue to feature subjects of interest to ABCA coaches, and members will have a greater opportunity to be featured in the magazine.

ABCA members who have attended the convention in recent years are already familiar with the magazine, as it was distributed free in the convention packets.

Members were given free access to the Inside Pitch app with the ability to read several issues this past spring. Members will continue to have free access to the Inside Pitch app, which features full issue content plus extras. Details about the app will be emailed periodically.

For more information, visit abca.org