Hensley Meulens, the Curaçao-born bench coach of the San Francisco Giants made his first step in Major League Baseball, today 30 years ago. With the New York Yankees, Meulens became the first player from Curaçao to make it to the bigs.
Meulens was signed by the Yankees as an undrafted free agent in 1985. After struggling in his first professional season in 1986 with the Gulf Coast Yankees, Meulens broke through in 1987 with Single-A Prince William, hitting .300 with 28 HR and 103 RBI. These numbers earned him a spot in the Carolina League All-Star team. In 1988 & 1989 he split time between the Double-A Albany-Colonie Yankees of the Eastern League and the Triple-A Columbus Clippers of the International League.
Between 1989 and 1993, Meulens played (parts of) five seasons with the Yankees. After the 1993 season, his contract was sold to the Chiba Lotte Marines, where he played the 1994 season, batting a modest .248 with 23 home runs and 69 RBI. The following season, Meulens would sign with the Yakult Swallows for two seasons. He helped the Swallows to win the 1995 NPB championship. After that season, Meulens would return to the USA where he had a cup of coffee with the Montreal Expos and the Arizona Diamondbacks. After a stint with the independent Newark Bears, Meulens headed to Asia once more to join the SK Wyverns of the KBO. In 2001 and 2002, Meulens played in the Mexican League before retiring.
On the international level, Meulens joined the Dutch national team in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, where he contributed with a double to the Dutch victory over Cuba, Cuba’s first Olympic in twenty-one games. During the 2004 Summer Olympics and 2009 World Baseball Classic, he would serve as a coach before he was appointed manager of team Kingdom of the Netherlands in 2013. Also during the 2015 Premier Twelve (the main tournament of the WBSC) and the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Meulens was the manager of the team.
After his active career, Meulens joined the Orioles’ organization and served as a coach for the Bluefield Orioles in 2003 and 2004. From 2005 through 2008, he was the hitting coach of the Indianapolis Indians (AAA, Pirates affiliate). In 2009, Meulens joined the Giants’ organization as he became the hitting coach for their AAA team in Fresno. In 2010, he was offered a job as hitting coach with the Giants in the Bigs.
After the New York Yankees did not offer a contract extension to Joe Girardi, Meulens was one of the candidates to become the new Yankee manager but eventually, the Yankees chose for Aaron Boone. Now Bruce Bochy, manager of the Giants is in his final season (as he announced his retirement), Meulens is the main candidate to follow up Bochy. For the past two seasons, Meulens served as a bench coach next to Bochy, a sign that he may be the one to become the next manager of the Giants.