The Yankees hired former Yankee BamBam Meulens to be an assistant hitting coach
Hensley “Bambam” Meulens, who was a finalist to be the Yankees manager before Aaron Boone got the position before the 2018 season, has recently been named an assistant hitting coach for the Yankees. This is a hire that makes a lot of sense since Meulens has a lot of experience.
Meulens has had a vast and extensive coaching career, which has come after his playing career that lasted from 1989 through 2000.
His coaching career began in 2003, three years after he retired, when he was named coach of the Bluefield Orioles, who were a rookie level team in the Appalachian League. He was their coach in 2004 as well. Teaching and instructing hitting is his expertise. From 2005 through 2008, Meulens was the hitting coach for the Indianapolis Indians, who are the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. During this 2005–2008 time span, he also coached in the prestigious Arizona Fall League and in the Hawaii Winter Baseball League for the Honolulu Sharks in the 2006 off-season.
Starting in the 2010 season, he reached the Major League ranks as a coach as a became hitting coach with the San Francisco Giants. He would stay as a coach in the Giants organization until 2019. He helped the Giants win the World Series in three of this first five years (2010, 2012 and 2014). This assistant hitting coach is in some way a step down for Meulens, but he will use this position as a way of getting a regular hitting coach position and possibly a manager position in the future.
Meulens also runs the Dutch Antilles Baseball Academy in Curacao where he grew up. He is interested in starting a baseball league in Curacao that will be in association with Major League Baseball’s RBI program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities)
The final part of his coaching experience before being named to be on the Yankees staff for the 2022 season (it’s unknown when this season will eventually begin) was when he was the Mets bench coach for the 2020 season. He was fired after that season and replaced by Dave Jauss.
Meulens, who is 54, speaks an impressive five languages. They include Spanish, English, Dutch, Japanese and Papiamento. This ability to speak English, Spanish and Japanese as well as the two other languages helps him be able to deal with and coach English speakers, Spanish speakers and Japanese speakers in the primary language, which is a real asset. He speaks Dutch due to growing up in Curacao and Japanese from his playing days.
He grew up in Curacao and was born in Willemstad, Curacao. He was signed by the Yankees as an un-drafted free agent in 1985 and made his Major League debut with the team four years later. He had an outstanding season in 1987 and put his name on the radar as he had .300 average with 28 homers and 103 RBI at Single-A. In 1990, for Triple-A Columbus, he showed his power once again as he had a .285 average with 26 homer and 96 RBI, which earned him the International League MVP.
In addition to playing in Major League Baseball for six seasons, he also played three seasons in Japan (he had 23 homers in 1994 in Japan), one season in Korea and one season in Mexico with Saraperos de Saltillo. He was known for his power when he was growing up and known for his quick hands.
He earned the nickname BamBam since his friends compared his power to the Flintstones cartoon character when he used to hit his left-handed home runs as a teenager playing softball in Curacao. This nickname would stick with him throughout his career and this is one of the better baseball player nicknames.
Bambam had just a .220 average with 15 homers and 53 RBI in his 182 MLB games. The only season that he played more than 30 games was 1991 when he played 96 games and had a .222 average with six homers, eight double and 29 RBI. However, he has proven to be a high quality MLB coach since he was with the Giants organization for 10 seasons.
He played for the Yankees for some down seasons for the franchise from 1989 through 1993. The Yankees finished below .500 from 1989 through 1992. The Yankees have not finished below .500 since 1992 and those four seasons below .500 was the first time they were below .500 in four consecutive seasons since 1912 through 1915. 1912 was the last season that the Yankees were known as the Highlanders.
The Yankees made the BamBam hire after Eric Chavez, who was named an assistant hitting coach for the Yankees in December, was named the hitting coach for the Mets. It is rare that a coach would take another position just a month after being hired by a team and also rare that he would go from the Yankees to the Mets.
Chavez played in the Majors from 1998 through 2014 but is most known for his time with the Athletics from 1998 through 2010. He was on the Yankees from 2011–2012. Chavez is a third baseman who was elite defensively since he won a Gold Glove each season from 2001 through 2006 and he also had power during the prime of his career since he averaged 27 homers in the seven seasons from 2000 through 2006.
Chavez was named special assistant to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Billy Eppler during the 2015 season. He was instrumental in scouring Didi Gregorius, who was his former teammate in Arizona (Chavez played for the Diamondbacks in the last two seasons of his career in 2013 and 2014), for the Yankees. When Eppler became general manager of the Los Angeles Angels after the 2015 season, he hired Chavez as a special assistant.
The Yankee apparently knew that Chavez might take the promotion when they hired him initially. Dillon Lawson is the Yankees hitting coach and he will have two assistant hitting coaches. The other assistant coach is Casey Dykes, who was the hitting coach for their Triple-A affiliate the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in 2021.
The assistant coaches have been a recent trend, which likely has to do with the increase of analytics and information in today’s game. Before being named hitting coach earlier in the offseason, Lawson had been the team’s minor league hitting coordinator since 2018. Dykes and Lawson will both be coaching in the Majors for the first time this season, but this should not be that much of an adjustment from their previous positions, and Bambam would be able to help them initially based on his vast experience.
Even though Chavez was a much more well known name from his baseball career, the Yankees likely got the better end of this swap since Meulens has much more coaching experience as a hitting coach than Chavez does.