Nightengale’s notebook: Baseball lifers, Hensley Meulens and Jeff Banister, are on the outside looking in

The former New York Mets coach, who just returned to his native island home after traveling five weeks in the United States with his family, was in disbelief seeing that two of his friends were fired three weeks into the season.

“Wow, at least I’m out of the zoo,’’ he said. “What is going on over there?’’

The former Texas Rangers manager sees that his old team still has their pitching woes, but it’s nothing compared to his new team.

“When you walk 10 batters, hit five others, and give up 18 hits,’’ he said, “it doesn’t bode very well for success. Patience my brother, patience.’’

Welcome to the world of Hensley “Bam Bam’’ Meulens and Jeff Banister.

They broke into baseball world together in 1985, spent nearly their entire lives in the game, but now out of professional baseball for the first time in 36 years, waiting for the phone to ring.

Technically, neither are unemployed.

Banister is a volunteer coach for the University of Northern Colorado with the title of “Director of Player Development’’ where his son, Jacob, is a freshman outfielder.

“It’s been fun, not only helping them, they’ve refreshed my passion for the game,’’ Banister says. “I don’t know if we have a single player that will play in any (professional) organization, but they truly love playing the game and the atmosphere as a student athlete.’’

Meulens, a native of Curacao, is managing the Dutch National team that's trying to qualify for the Olympics. He played for Netherlands in 2000 when they stunned Cuba and was on their 2004 coaching staff.

“When I played in 2000 in Sydney (Australia), it was the most incredible thing I’ve ever done,’’ he said. “I hadn’t won a World Series yet at that time, but to be part of the best 10,000 athletes in the world, I’ll never forget. It was awesome. I’d love for these guys to experience it.

“It’s the best sporting event in the world.’’

Still, as each tell you, it’s hardly the same as working in professional baseball.


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