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RedHawks Q&A: RedHawks' Mike Hessman talks about time in Japan

The former Atlanta Braves prospect has spent 16 seasons in the minor leagues, slugging 350 home runs. After one season in Japan, he signed as a free agent in February with the Houston Astros.
by Ed Godfrey Published: April 6, 2012

“They could compete. They got guys that can hit the ball. They handle the bat extremely well. They slap it all over the field. Hitters are shooting balls down the line left and right. It's something where you can't cheat on certain guys like we do here with the shift.”

How was the pitching?

“They don't quite have the power arms that we have, but their mechanics are very sound. They have a lot of deception and a lot of movement, different kind of funky little rhythms, very good off-speed stuff.”

You have spent the bulk of your 16-year professional career in the minor leagues. Is it true you have more home runs in the minors (350) than any other active minor league player?

“I think that is still the case now. I don't know if anybody caught me last year.”

What do you think when you hear that statistic?

“It is what it is. I enjoy playing the game. As long as I can keep putting this uniform on I am going to go out there and do it.

Why have you been able to mash the ball in the minors (350 career homers with 2,026 RBIs) but struggled in the major leagues?

“Usually, when I had my time up in the major leagues it was pinch hitting, coming off the bench, getting a spot start here and there. Guys that come off the bench, boy, I have a great deal of respect for those guys who make careers out of that.”

You played in 109 games in the major leagues (Tigers, Braves and Mets), getting only 223 at bats. Do you think that you ever received a fair shot in the majors?

“A lot of it is being in the right spot at the right time. I have been blessed to play this game for a long time and to have an opportunity to play in the major leagues. I played for some great managers in Bobby Cox and Jim Leyland, been around some really great baseball people. I have nothing to complain about.”

At age 34, do you still have aspirations to make a major league roster?

“If an opportunity opens up, that would be awesome. I know how the game works. I know where age stands in the game. That's no secret.”

If your baseball career ended today, would you be happy with it?

“Yeah, absolutely. I have been very blessed to stay in the game this long.”

by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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