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. 

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