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Hens' Hessman plays all nine positions

Minor League veteran makes the rounds in final home game
September 5, 2009
Sporting a mohawk and uneven socks, Mike Hessman slowly walked off the mound after giving up two runs in the top of the ninth inning on Friday night.

Every fan at Toledo's Fifth Third Field stood and applauded -- royal treatment for the King of the Mud Hens.

Hessman went 1-for-5 with a single and four strikeouts, was thrown out stealing, suffered his first blown save, took the loss and played all nine positions in the Mud Hens' 12-11 loss to the Columbus Clippers.

The former International League MVP has done about as much as a Minor Leaguer can over 14 seasons -- a home run championship, an appearance at the Olympics and even a homer in his first Major League at-bat.

On Friday, the 31-year-old managed to add another chapter to his career.

"LP (manager Larry Parrish) came up to me and said, 'Do you want to pull a Hoop?' I didn't know what he meant until he told me he wanted to know if I wanted to play all nine [positions]," Hessman told the Toledo Blade.

Hessman's former teammate, Kevin Hooper, was the last Mud Hen to play all nine positions in a game, accomplishing the feat in the final game of the 2005 season.

"I said, 'Sure, let's do it,'" Hessman said. "It was fun, but it was extremely frustrating. But the fans were great, cheering and everything, and it was a lot fun."

Touted by the Mud Hens as "King Hessman," Toledo's all-time home run leader started the game behind the plate and worked his way around the infield from first to third before taking his spot at each outfield position. He moved from right field to the mound for the ninth, in line to pick up his first career save.

Things didn't go as planned, at least in terms of the save.

Fans gave him a standing ovation as he recorded two quick outs before getting in trouble. Mickey Hall singled and raced all the way to third base on a wild pitch before scoring on a base hit by Niuman Romero.

Donnie Webb made it three straight singles and Josh Barfield reached on shortstop Audy Ciriaco's throwing error that allowed Romero to score the go-ahead run.

"It was frustrating when I didn't get the job done in the end," Hessman told the newspaper. "I expected to get the guys out and I expected to do my job. But I left too many pitches over the plate."

Hessman's adventurous night appeared over after he walked the bases loaded with two outs. With Parrish and the Mud Hens infielders gathered on the mound, the fans only got louder. Finally, Hessman induced an inning-ending groundout from Wes Hodges.

Friday marked the second time the tall right-hander has taken the mound this season. He pitched a perfect inning on July 2 against Columbus, his first appearance since recording two outs for the Mud Hens in 2005. His pitching debut came way back in 2001 for Double-A Greenville.

A first baseman on most nights, Hessman has settled into the role of Triple-A veteran and fan favorite in Toledo. Last September, he hit .296 with five homers in a 12-game stint with Detroit.

It's been quite a week for the record books, too. Hessman's 22nd homer of the season on Thursday also was his 200th at the Triple-A level. He's hit at least 20 in nine of his 14 seasons.

On Friday, he became the first Minor Leaguer to play all nine positions in a game since Adam Ricks did it for Winston-Salem on Aug. 31, 2008.

Danny Wild is an editor for