Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Great Minor League Card

Ten years ago I first saw Mike Hessman in person at a Durham Bulls game.  At the time Hessman was playing for the Toledo Mud Hens who are the Tigers Triple A affiliate.  I had heard of Hessman prior to seeing him in person.  He had a few baseball cards in the early 2000s as a member of the Braves, but after a pair of stop overs with the big club in 2003 and 2004 Hessman was released and signed with the Tigers.

One of Hessman's earlier cards as a Brave....

Hessman had power and was a scary Minor League hitter, but never seemed to never get called up, or never stayed when he did get up to the Majors.  Year after year Hessman would pop up in the International League.  Most of the times I have seen Hessman he has been a member of the Mud Hens, but his long Minor League career also included a few other stops along the way: Buffalo with the Mets, Louisville with the Reds, and one year in the Pacific Coast League with Oklahoma City and a year in Japan.  

So why did Mike Hessman stick around in the Minors so long?  Well, there is the whole professional baseball thing.  That's better than a lot of other jobs.  Hessman also hit a lot of home runs.  Twenty something one year, thirty something the next two, on and on.  Last summer Hessman, after 19 years on the farm, cranked out his 433 home run against Lehigh Valley to set the home run record in the Minors.  

Card wise there have never been that many Hessman cards.  Again, a few from his first years as a Braves prospect.  There are a lot of Minor League team issued cards of him and a few League All-Star sets featuring him, but not many cards from the major card manufacturers.  There was a Topps Pro Debut card a few years back, but most Minor League collectors are really out for the prospects, not the old guys.  That means you most of Hessman's cards are like this International League All-Star card from 2014.....

I like prospects, but I do not mind cards of the old guys either.  Old minor league guys are like the backup catcher cards in the base Topps set.  There are not many cards of them, but they are still enjoyable cards.  Which brings me to tonight's card...

After more than a decade in the Minors, and a Minor League home run record later, Topps finally included Hessman as a signer in this year's Topps Pro Debut set.  When the set came out and I saw this card I made this my number one priority to track down.  It's been a fun to watch Hessman all of the years and nice to get a card of him as a member of the Mud Hens.  

For what it's worth, Hessman retired from baseball as a player at the end of last year.  He is now working as a hitting coach in the Tigers organization with the Connecticut Tigers.  


  1. Good to see Topps give Mike some love - the real life Crash Davis made for such a cool story

  2. Great history lesson... and a very cool card. Might have to track one of these Topps Pro Debut autographs to my want-list.