Hendricks had suffered his share of broken fingers and foot fractures in 12 years of catching. But the idea of standing 60 feet, 6 inches from the batter with no mask, chest protector or shinguards, without the protection of the batting practice screen was, to say the least, unsettling.
"My whole plan was to throw it inside and hope they pull it. I don't care
how far they hit it," Hendricks says. "I thought, 'Just throw it as slow as
you can, try to mess their timing up.' "
"I was mixing speeds," Hendricks says. And he laughs.
The first Blue Jay to face Hendricks, shortstop Tim Johnson, hit one up
the middle, a routine grounder that looked to Hendricks like a cannon shot. He
stepped aside and let it pass, through the infield and into center field for a
"I thought, 'This is going to be a long day.' "
Of course, it already had been. Mike Flanagan had given up six runs, Joe
Kerrigan yielded seven, Tippy Martinez six and Harlow five. Hendricks closed
the door, giving up Johnson's single, a walk and no runs in 2 1/3 innings. He
even struck out a batter, although he doesn't recall the fellow's name.
"It was a 3-2 pitch," he says. "I thought, 'How did he miss that?' "
Former ace Jim Palmer watched it from the dugout. Asked to account for
Hendricks' effectiveness, Palmer says, "Either Elrod had his good stuff that
night or they just got tired."
Hendricks suggests the latter.
"They got themselves out," he says.
Palmer recalls that Hendricks used a little neck jerk motion reminiscent
of changeup artist Stu Miller. "They swung at the neck twitch," Palmer says.
"It seemed like they could have swung twice" by the time the ball crossed the
When Hendricks' pitching debut was over, his ERA a tidy 0.00 and
right-hander Don Stanhouse on the mound to finish the game, Weaver approached
Hendricks and "he said, 'Nice job.' I'm thinking, 'Yeah, but don't think about
it again.' . . . I'd like to say it was fun but it really wasn't."
He says he would rather forget. But that's not Palmer's version.
"Heck, no," Palmer says. "The next day we went down to get the papers and
there were none left. Elrod had bought them all."
Now pitching, Elrod Hendricks?
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