SAN FRANCISCO – Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens studied for this test. He was ready for it.
But he still employed a few mnemonic devices, just to be sure.
So when the interviewer from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asked him to name one of three main authors of the Constitution, Meulens took a rip and hit it into the left-center gap.
“John Jay,” the Giants hitting coach said. “I remembered that one because there’s an outfielder for the Cardinals with the same name.”
Meulens needed to get six right out of 10 and he passed with flying colors – red, white and blue, of course. And in 30 days, he’ll stand in the Paramount Theater in Oakland with 1,000 others and take the Oath of Allegiance in a naturalization ceremony.
“It’s where I make my living,” said Meulens, who hails from Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles and has Dutch citizenship. “It’s a great country. I love my own country and will always be part of it. But moving forward, this is where I want to be, where I want to raise my kids, where I want them to get their education.”
The Meulens family received good news on back-to-back days. His wife, Gyselle, had her application for U.S. residency approved. Their kids, Elijah (3 ½) and Mia (1 ½) will start school soon, and so these were important steps to make sure they could enroll.
Plus it just seemed like the right thing to do for Meulens, who played parts of five seasons with the Yankees and Diamondbacks, played three years in Japan and also took part in various Caribbean leagues. He speaks five languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, Dutch and Papiamento, a dialect in the Netherlands Antilles.
He managed the Netherlands to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic in March.
He’s seen the world, and he knows where he wants to put down roots. Plus his two older daughters live in San Francisco and attend graduate school. The eldest, Michelle, is expecting Meulens’ first grandchild.
Do you know who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces? (The president.) And his name? (Barack Obama.) Can you name both major political parties? (Republican and Democrat.) Can you name one U.S. state that borders Mexico? (California.)
OK, so the other questions weren’t exactly the $2000 clues on the Jeopardy board. Meulens took no chances. He watched the study aide DVD three times to make sure.
Meulens isn’t sure if he’ll be able to retain Dutch citizenship. The Netherlands tightened its laws in 2012, requiring those who become naturalized in other countries to surrender their Dutch passport.
What about Dutch citizens who own two World Series rings? Or those who have been accorded knighthood -- the Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau -- as Sir Bam Bam was last year?
“Hopefully they’ll make an exception,” he said.
And if not, the 46-year-old coach is OK with that.
“I’ve been here 28 years and a resident for 20,” he said. “I’m more American than anything else.”