SAN FRANCISCO -- Hensley Meulens is representing the Kingdom of the Netherlands as its manager in the World Baseball Classic, but that's not where his ties end when it comes to who's playing in this tournament and where it's being held.
Meulens estimated he's probably the only one at AT&T Park who is connected with both teams playing in Monday's semifinal as well as the team hosting it. His mother is from the Dominican Republic, born in Santiago, and has lived in Curacao for the past 50 years. He's managing the Dutch team, and he's the hitting coach of the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
"I don't think there's any other person in the stadium that can claim all three," he said with a smile.
Meulens threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game between the Netherlands and the Dominican Republic. He was joined by former Giant Felipe Alou, a native of the Dominican Republic who currently serves as a special assistant to Giants GM Brian Sabean.
Alou played in the Major Leagues from 1958-74, sharing several of those seasons with his brothers Jesus and Matty in the outfield for the Giants. He was a three-time All-Star and hit 206 home runs in his career. As a manager, he led the Montreal Expos from 1992-2001 and the Giants from 2003-06. He was the 1994 National League Manager of the Year.
Alou's son, Moises, a former All-Star outfielder in the Major Leagues himself, is the general manager of the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic.
Even though the bulk of Meulens' concentration was geared toward the game, he expressed gratitude for being asked to participate in the pregame ceremony.
"It's special, especially with Felipe there," Meulens said. "I played for Felipe in '97 in Montreal. He's been a great mentor since. He's a great mentor now as a special assistant to Brian Sabean. He gives us a lot of good information and we pick his brain all the time.
"But I have a lot of relatives in the Dominican Republic today cheering for the Dominican Republic, but also cheering for me as a cousin, as their family member. Of course in Curacao, Holland, Aruba, all over the Kingdom, people are just cheering for us to win this game. But they're very emotional about the Giants choosing me to throw out the first pitch today, and for me, as it's a very special moment as well."
Manny Randhawa is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less