Both on the field and in Hollywood apparently. The new Mariners third base coach, Bruce Hines, was touted today as a guy who can relate to and motivate the players he works with. That skill will be especially needed when it comes to working with young infielders Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Lopez. Hines will handle the team’s infielders in addition to his third base duties.
Hey, he sure knew how to handle baseball star Bobby Rayburn in the 1996 movie The Fan, starring Wesley Snipes and Robert De Niro. Hines was also in the movie, playing the role of the umpire in some of the climactic scenes. In them, it’s about to become a wet, miserable night at the ballyard, just like Game 5 of this year’s World Series in Philadelphia. Movie ballplayer Rayburn’s son has been kidnapped by De Niro, who tells Rayburn (Snipes) he has to hit a home run in this one game to save the boy’s life.
But the umpire, a.k.a. Hines, gets in the way of Rayburn’s attempts by actually calling a rain delay just as the big drops start to fall. Imagine that. Wonder what Bud Selig thinks? Anyhow…a freaking out Rayburn says: “Oh, God. Please don’t do this, I’m begging you.”
It’s to no avail as the teams head for their clubhouses. But the umpire gets his. De Niro presumably kills Hines in a back room, dons his gear, then takes over behind the plate after the game is — astonishingly — allowed to resume despite what looks to be a Category 5 hurricane raging down on the players. Watch the final scene here, if you care. You won’t see Hines, but it’s the best part of a flawed movie.
Anyhow, back to real life. Hines, still very much alive at present day, last coached in the majors in 1991 with the California Angels as a first base/outfield instructor. He’s been a minor league manager and roving instructor ever since. He knew Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu dating back to 1983, but figured he wasn’t going to be looked at seriously for the M’s job when he didn’t hear anything right away.
After a while, though, old pal Ty Van Burkleo, the team’s new bench coach, called to tell him he was “in the mix”. When Hines, an employee with the Angels who could not reach out to the M’s himself because of strict baseball rules, was finally contacted by the Mariners, he told them he wanted back in the majors.
“What makes me want to do that is its been 16 years (17 actually) since I coached in the major leagues,” Hines said. “So, I’ve been preparing for this job for 16 years.”
Hines added: “Everybody who’s passionate about what they do should get a chance to prove they can do it at the pinnacle of their position.”
Heck, even De Niro’s character in the movie took stalking to a whole different extreme.
Seriously though, you’ve got to like the background work put in by Hines with young players in the minor leagues. He spent 23 profesisonal seasons with the Angels in some capacity. That’s a pretty good organization and it’s no coincidence Wakamatsu has been hiring guys with a connection to that club.
“The strongest team in our division is Anaheim and there’s a reason for it,” Wakamatsu said.
Hines said his goal will be to “try to give these guys an understanding of how to win and how to play good, fundamental baseball.”