from Howie's album, When You're Happy
The Ballad of Mike Hessman chronicles his storied 20-year career
Slugging infielder set the all-time minor league home run record
Retired slugger Mike Hessman is the subject of a new song by Boston-area singer-songwriter Howie Newman and is included on his most recent album, When You're Happy.
Titled "The Ballad of Mike Hessman (Minor League Home Run King)," it chronicles Hessman's 20-year baseball career that began in 1996.
Now a hitting coach in the minor leagues, Hessman set the career minor league record for home runs in 2015 with 433.
He played 19 seasons in the minors, breaking the previous home run record of 432, set by Buzz Arlett in 1936.
Hessman also played in Mexico, Japan and Venezuela.
Hall of Fame
The Toledo Mudhens jersey Hessman wore when hitting homer No. 433 – a grand slam against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Aug. 3, 2015 – now hangs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Howie met up with Mike prior to an Eastern League game in Portland, Maine, in 2018.
LISTEN TO THE SONG
Words and music by Howie Newman
(C) 2016 Howie Newman Chin Music (BMI)
"I read about Mike in Sports Illustrated and thought it was a very interesting story," said Newman, who has penned 11 other baseball songs among the 100 or so that he has written.
"Here was a guy who must have really loved the game to have stayed with it that long and persevered through all the moving around and changing teams.
"The irony, of course, is that 433 home runs is a tremendous feat but it came at the expense of his ultimate goal, which was to have a long major league career."
Major league career
Hessman did play parts of five seasons in the majors, logging 109 games with the Braves, Mets and Tigers. He batted .188 with 14 home runs, 33 RBIs and 79 strikeouts in 250 at-bats.
He also represented Team USA at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and, fittingly enough, hit a homer.
About the song
The "Ballad of Mike Hessman" is a country-rock tune, featuring Newman on acoustic guitar along with lead and backup vocals. The track also includes some nifty keyboard work by Tim Ray, a longtime piano player for Lyle Lovett who has performed with Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt.
In the song, Newman notes that Hessman "just kept playing 'cause he loved it" but adds "becoming minor league home run king was a blessing and a curse."
Click here for the lyrics.
The 10-track album, When You're Happy, is available through
Individual mp3s of "The Ballad of Mike Hessman" can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon and other digital music outlets.
About Howie Newman
Howie Newman is a full-time musician and a full-time baseball fan
who has been to 94 major and minor league parks.
He was sportswriter for 18 years, working for the Boston Globe, Associated Press, Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.), Lowell (Mass.)
Sun and several other suburban newspapers.
lead and backup vocals
bass, electric guitar
Newman covered the World Series in 1985 and 1986. He has combined his love of baseball with music, having produced two CDs of baseball songs, Baseball’s Greatest Hits, Volumes 1 and 2. Both albums have been accepted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Archive in Cooperstown, N.Y.
His label is Major League Records and his publishing company is Chin Music (BMI).
Newman’s other baseball compositions include songs about Johnny Damon, Tony Cloninger, Mario Mendoza, Doug Mientkiewicz, Tug McGraw and Bob Heise.
For further information about his baseball songs, click here.
MIKE HESSMAN SONG