Detroit Tigers: Mike Hessman is the Real Life Crash Davis


“Full many a flow’r is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

Susan Surandon’s character, Annie Savoy, reads these two lines of a Thomas Gray poem after Crash Davis, who is played by Kevin Costner, hits his record-setting minor league home run towards the end of Bull Durham.

In the movie, nobody realizes Davis broke an impressive minor-league record. The same cannot be said for the new record set by Toledo Mud Hens corner infielder Mike Hessman.

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The 37-year-old Santa Ana native became the real life Crash Davis this week, breaking baseball’s minor league home run record with his 433rd dinger. The story received attention from ESPN, Bleacher Report and many other major sports outlets.

Hessman, who has played 13 seasons at the Triple-A level, is in his seventh season and second stint with Toledo. The 37-year-old broke the record with a grand slam in the seventh inning of Monday’s game. Outfielder Buzz Arlett, who was nicknamed the Babe Ruth of the minors, held the previous minor league home run record for 79 years.

With the Detroit Tigers all but out of playoff contention, it will be interesting to see if the major league club decides to call up Hessman in September. By no means should the 37-year-old be a part of Detroit’s retooling plan, but Hessman could give fans a reason to head to Comerica Park despite the Tigers being out of the race.

Hessman does have some previous major league experience. He made his debut with the Atlanta Braves in 2003. The Braves drafted him in the 15th round of the 1996 draft.

In 2007 and 2008, Hessman appeared in 29 games with the Tigers. He made his last major league appearance with the New York Mets on Oct. 3, 2010.

The 37-year-old is a career .188/.272/.422 hitter with 14 home runs in 223 at-bats over 109 games in the majors. With Toledo this season, Hessman is batting .217 with 16 homers, which is tied for third-most in the International League.

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