Elrod Hendricks

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Elrod Hendricks
Elrod Hendricks 1968.JPG
Hendricks in 1968
Catcher
Born: (1940-12-22)December 22, 1940
Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands
Died: December 21, 2005(2005-12-21) (aged 64)
Glen Burnie, Maryland
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 13, 1968 for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
September 19, 1979 for the Baltimore Orioles
Career statistics
Batting average .220
Home runs 62
Runs batted in 230
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Elrod Jerome "Ellie" Hendricks (December 22, 1940 – December 21, 2005) was a catcher and coach in Major League Baseball. Hendricks played during a 12-year career that lasted from 1968 through 1979 for the Baltimore Orioles (1968–1972, 1973–1976, 1978–1979), Chicago Cubs (1972) and New York Yankees (1976–1977). He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.

Biography[edit]

A native of Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands, Hendricks was selected by the Baltimore Orioles from the California Angels in the Rule 5 draft on November 28, 1967.[1] He was a superior defensive catcher and a very fine handler of pitchers on a usually strong Orioles rotation that included Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson, Dave McNally, Jim Palmer and Tom Phoebus. He also spent most of his playing for the Orioles on teams that went to three consecutive World Series from 1969–71, sharing duties with Andy Etchebarren. Hendricks led American League catchers in fielding percentage in 1969 and 1975.[2]

Hendricks also played briefly for the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. His most productive season came in 1970, when he hit 12 home runs with 41 RBI. Hendricks went 4-for-11 (.364) with a home run and four RBI to help Baltimore defeat the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970 World Series. He also appeared in the 1976 World Series for the Yankees against Cincinnati, made the Orioles bullpen coach following the 1977 season, and was a player-coach in 1978–79.

Hendricks is best remembered for a bizarre defensive play in Game 1 of the 1970 World Series. In a tied game with one out in the sixth inning, the Reds had runners on the corners. Cincinnati pinch hitter Ty Cline hit a high chopper in front of the plate, which Hendricks grabbed with his bare hand. Bernie Carbo, who was on third base, was running home on the play. Hendricks lunged toward Carbo, attempting to tag him out as umpire Ken Burkhart moved toward the field to call the ball fair. Burkhart collided with Hendricks, spinning to the ground as Hendricks tagged Carbo with an empty glove (the ball was still in his other hand). The distracted umpire called Carbo out on the basis of the glove tag. Reds manager Sparky Anderson argued the play to no avail.[3] (Ironically, replays showed Carbo had missed the plate entirely while trying to avoid Hendricks' tag.)

Hendricks hit a game-tying home run in the top of the fifth inning. Brooks Robinson hit the go-ahead home run in the top of the seventh, clinching the Orioles' first win of the Series, 4–3.

He also played a part in a memorable play from the previous year's World Series. With the Mets leading 3–0 and two Orioles on base with two outs in the fourth inning of Game 3, Hendricks cracked a hard-hit line drive into the left-center field gap that most thought would go for extra bases, scoring two runs and putting the Orioles back in the game. But center fielder Tommie Agee, who was playing the left-handed Hendricks to pull in right-center, chased down the ball on a dead sprint, extending his left arm for a memorable backhanded over-the-shoulder catch in the webbing of his glove.[4]

In another unusual moment, Hendricks made a relief pitching appearance on a June 26, 1978 game against the Toronto Blue Jays. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Hendricks's Orioles were losing 24–6, and manager Earl Weaver had already resorted to using position player Larry Harlow to try to get outs that inning. Hendricks pitched surprisingly well, allowing no runs and only two baserunners over 213 innings of work.[5]

In 711 games played, including 658 with Baltimore, Hendricks was a .220 hitter with 62 home runs and 230 RBI. In nine postseason games, he had .273, two HR, 10 RBI. In 602 games as a catcher, Hendricks collected 2783 outs, 228 assists, 31 double plays, and committed just only 29 errors for a significant .990 fielding percentage.

Hendricks was a big star in Puerto Rico. He played for 17 seasons with the Cangrejeros de Santurce and occupies third place on the all-time list in homers with 105.

Coaching career[edit]

Hendricks became a fixture in Baltimore by holding the position as bullpen coach for 28 years, the longest coaching tenure in Orioles history. His contract was not renewed for that position as of October 2005, in part because he had a mild stroke in April. The 2005 season marked the 37th that Hendricks served in a Baltimore uniform as a player or coach, another club record. He also had the longest active coaching streak with one club among all major league coaches. After his stroke, Hendricks was reassigned to another position within the organization, one that would enable the club to take advantage of his huge popularity within the Baltimore community; along with his loyalty to the "Orioles way" and to the traditions of baseball, he was a tireless signer of pre-game autographs and a general good-will ambassador. He was slated to be the host for the 2006 Baltimore Baseball Cruise aboard The Golden Princess.

Death[edit]

Elrod Hendricks died of a heart attack in Glen Burnie, Maryland, one day shy of his 65th birthday.

The Orioles wore the number 44 on the sleeves of their jerseys in 2006, to honor Hendricks. Although the number has not been officially retired, no Oriole player has worn it since Hendricks died.

In 2007, St. Frances Academy, Baltimore, MD started an annual baseball tournament in his name.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Cal Ripken Sr.
Baltimore Orioles Bullpen Coach
1978–2005
Succeeded by
Rick Dempsey