Sunday, December 27, 2015

The untimely second death of Dave Henderson

I was sad to see that Dave "Hendu" Henderson passed away from a massive heart attack this morning at age 57. According to The Seattle Times Hendu had been suffering from kidney problems for several years and had a transplant earlier this year.

Hendu was the first-ever draft pick of the Seattle Mariners, but gained most of his playing fame through playoff heroics with the Red Sox and Athletics. He later returned to Seattle and was a commentator on M's broadcasts for a number of years. I thought he was terrible at first, but eventually it seemed he may have had some coaching, slowed down his delivery a little, and made some good contributions to the games.

The ashes of a 1985 season Dave Henderson APBA card, and
photo of my stadium where the dice were not kind to him.
Hendu actually "died" for the first time back in 1986. He was on my team in an APBA league and was playing dismally; the dice were not kind to him. Hendu had hit .241 with 14 home runs during the 1985 major league season, but the following year in APBA he was batting just .188 with no dingers and just four RBI in 27 games. The real-life Hendu often lost the grip on his bat after a strikeout, and it would go pinwheeling out onto the field or into the stands. I had a number of the 13s on his card circled, designated to be lost-bat Ks, for added realism in the game.

After another agonizing whiff in a key situation, I lost patience, took Hendu's card out to the Hibachi and torched it, then cooked up a tale about his death in a fiery auto accident. I still have his ashes, which were on display in my dice "Big A" stadium for the rest of the season. My Angels won their division that year, going 54-26 behind Ron Guidry (12-3, 2.25) and Tommy Herr, who hit .344. Despite Hendu's disappearance, I had plenty of Henderson on the club, which also included Rickey and Steve.

Hendu's APBA death later turned out to be a ruse; it turned out fans of the team had kidnapped him after a loss in Cleveland, and released him after the season was over. He was soon traded. The authorities are still trying to figure out whose remains were found in that rental car in Cleveland.

It is perhaps testament to APBA mania that I still have the charred remains of a Dave Henderson card that I burned in a fit of pique 29 years ago, and that I still have and could find my team's final stats from that season. I retired from that league after 1991; it is still running, though, and has been continuously since about 1969. They switched to Diamond Mind baseball some years ago.

Rest in peace, Mr. Henderson.