Thursday, May 31, 2018

Elrod Hendricks (#277)

Here is Orioles’ catcher Elrod Hendricks’ rookie card. Hendricks played from 1968 to 1979. Although mostly an Oriole (in 3 separate stints), he also spent some time with the Cubs and Yankees.

Hendricks was initially signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1959, but was released after the 1960 season. More than a year later, the Cardinals signed him, but also released him in June 1963. After a stint in the Mexican League, Ellie found his way into the Angels' organization in August 1966.

After the 1967 season, the Orioles selected him in the Rule 5 draft. As a Rule 5 pick, Hendricks was guaranteed a spot on the major-league roster, and made his big-league debut in April 1968. He started 45 games behind the dish as the #2 catcher, working with incumbent Andy Etchebarren and OF-C Curt Blefary.

With Blefary traded away in the off-season, Ellie became the #1 catcher for the next 3 seasons, starting half the games, while Etchebarren and Clay Dalrymple divvied up the rest. Hendricks played in 17 post-season games for the O's from 1969-71, including 6 in the '71 World Series.

Rookie Johnny Oates joined the team in 1972 and caught most of the games that year. In August, Hendricks was traded to the Cubs for Tommy Davis, but after the season was returned to the Orioles.

1973-74 saw Hendricks relegated to #3 catcher behind Earl Williams (acquired in the off-season for Oates) and Etchebarren.

In 1975 Rod moved up a notch to #2 catcher, starting 64 games – 2 dozen less than newly-acquired Dave Duncan.

Hendricks alternated with Duncan for the first 6 weeks of the 1976 season, but was part of a 10-player trade in June that saw pitchers Ken Holtzman, Grant Jackson, and Doyle Alexander accompany him to the Yankees in return for catcher Rick Dempsey and pitchers Scott McGregor, Tippy Martinez, Rudy May, and Dave Pagan.

After a season and a half of inactivity (the Yankees DID have someone named Munson catching!), including much of '77 in triple-A, Hendricks was granted free agency and signed with ….. the Orioles!

Hendricks only saw action in 12 games in 1978 (mostly as a pinch-hitter), and was released the following Spring.

He was the Orioles' bullpen coach for 28 years (1978-2005), and was activated for 1 at-bat in September 1979.

Hendricks passed away in 2005 at age 64. Since his death, no Oriole has worn his #44.

I think it's comical that lists him as a "catcher and relief pitcher". Over his 12-year career, he caught 4573 innings, played 1st base for 36 innings, and pitched only 2 innings. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dick Green (#515)

Dick Green was the Athletics’ starting 2nd baseman from 1964 to 1974. He played for 12 years – all for the Athletics. I really like these 1969 Athletics’ cards – quite a change from the 1968 models! 

Green was signed by the Kansas City Athletics before the 1960 season, and played 4 years in their farm system. In 1960 he played shortstop for the Sanford (FL) Greyhounds in the class-D Florida State League. For the next 2 seasons he was primarily a third baseman.

In 1963 he switched to 2nd base while playing a full season in AAA ball, followed by a September call-up to Kansas City. He played a few games for the A’s at SS and 2B in the closing weeks of 1963.

With the off-season trade of incumbent 2nd baseman Jerry Lumpe to Detroit, Green became the starting 2nd baseman from Opening Day 1964, and would hold that job through the end of the 1974 season, except for a time during 1967-68.

Dick began the 1967 season as the starter, but by mid-June rookie John Donaldson had taken over the starting job. Green rode the bench for a while, but then started most games at 3rd base in July and August. Once rosters were expanded in September, he lost that job to rookie call-up Sal Bando.

With Donaldson still entrenched at 2B in 1968, Green was used mostly as a pinch-hitter for the first half of the season (while also missing the entire month of June), but then regained his old 2nd base job in early August.

After playing in only 76 games in 1968, it was smooth sailing for Green for the next 3 years, playing more than 130 games in each season while nailing down the 2nd base job.

1972 was the low point of Dick’s career. He started the first 7 games of the season, then was out with injuries until mid-August. The Athletics filled in with Larry Brown, Tim Cullen, Dal Maxvill, and Ted Kubiak during that time. Green only started 15 of the 50 remaining games after his return, with Maxvill making most of the starts by then.

Dick regained a starting job for the 1973 season, but 1974 was a different story. He started 95 games at 2B in ’74 (50 more than the next guy), but most of them were in June to August.

Rookie Phil Garner would be taking over the 2nd base job in 1975, so Green was released in early-March, ending his 12-year career.

Green played 36 post-season games for the Athletics from 1971-74, but hit a composite .155.

I remember for a few games in the early 70’s, when the Athletics were the visiting team, their starting lineup would consist of the 8 other players, and another good hitter in the lineup, nominally as the "2nd baseman". This batter (a DH-type, I think maybe Gonzalo Marquez) would bat in the top of the 1st inning, then when the A’s took the field in the bottom of the first, Green would enter the lineup as the 2nd baseman. The whole scheme was to get the light-hitting Green one less at-bat per game.