December 22 – Happy Birthday Elrod Hendricks

If you’re a long time Yankee fan, it was one of those multi-player trades you just don’t forget, the likes of which will probably never be seen again. Back in the 1950s, trades involving two big league teams and six to ten players were not unusual but they normally took place between a team in a pennant race and a team outside of one. In June of the 1976 season, the Yankees were battling Baltimore for supremacy in the AL East, when the two clubs announced a pretty stunning deal.

New York sent their backup catcher, Rick Dempsey, veteran starter, Rudy May, a young left-handed reliever named Tippy Martinez, pitching prospect Scott McGregor and starter/reliever Dave Pagan all to the Birds. In exchange, the Yankees received starting pitchers Ken Holtzman and Doyle Alexander, reliever Grant Jackson and today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, Elrod Hendricks. Baltimore definitely got the best of this deal long term, as Dempsey became their starting catcher for the next decade, McGregor turned into one of the league’s premier starters and Martinez evolved into one of the best relievers in all of baseball. Even Rudy May paid dividends, going 29-21 during his two seasons with the Orioles. But the most immediate benefit went to the Yankees. During the second half of that season, Holtzman, Alexander and Jackson won an incredible 25 decisions between them, helping New York beat out the Birds for the AL East and capture the team’s first AL Pennant in over a decade.

Elrod Hendricks became the forgotten man in that transaction. He only got into 18-regular season games as a backup to the very durable Thurman Munson during his first half season in the Bronx. In 1977, the ten year big league veteran actually agreed to go down to the Yankee’s triple A team in Syracuse for most of the season, ceding his backup receiving role with the parent club to Fran Healy. But baby boomer aged fans like me remember when Hendricks caught those great Baltimore pitching staffs of the late sixties and early seventies. He was a solid receiver with a great arm. Hendricks is a native of the Virgin Islands who was born on this date in 1940. He passed away on the day before his 65th birthday in 2005.

Also born on this date is this former Yankee outfielder and this one-time Yankee starting pitcher.

1976 NYY 26 57 53 6 12 1 0 3 5 0 3 10 .226 .263 .415 .678
1977 NYY 10 11 11 1 3 1 0 1 5 0 0 2 .273 .273 .636 .909
12 Yrs 711 2155 1888 205 415 66 7 62 230 1 229 319 .220 .306 .361 .666
BAL (11 yrs) 658 2031 1781 191 395 63 7 56 214 1 213 299 .222 .306 .359 .666
NYY (2 yrs) 36 68 64 7 15 2 0 4 10 0 3 12 .234 .265 .453 .718
CHC (1 yr) 17 56 43 7 5 1 0 2 6 0 13 8 .116 .321 .279 .600
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/22/2013.

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