Dave “Hendu” Henderson’s first round of heroics in the baseball postseason of 1986 was a considerable disappointment to me. Henderson’s two-run homer with two strikes had completed a ninth-inning comeback for Boston in Anaheim, and then his sacrifice fly in the 11th inning provided the winning run in a 7-6 Red Sox victory.
This was Game 5 of the ALCS and kept the Red Sox alive. They returned to Fenway Park, whipped the Angels twice, and this turned out to the final, failed shot at a World Series for Gene Mauch, the great baseball man.
I covered Mauch on a daily basis from 1976 through ’78 when he managed the Twins, and extensively in the next two seasons, until he quit in August 1980. My objectivity had long since disappeared when it came to Mauch, and I was rooting for him as manager of the Angels vs. the Brewers in the 1982 ALCS, and again vs. Boston in 1986.
Henderson only had been with the Red Sox since the middle of August after a trade with Seattle. He had played sparingly and received little attention.
That certainly had changed by the middle of the World Series against the Mets. On the day off before Game 3 at Fenway Park, I was walking through the area of shops behind the Boston Sheraton. Henderson came walking through toward the Sheraton, and people went crazy.
Following Henderson’s next heroic moment that October, I was rooting strictly for paragraphs already written rather than a team.
The Red Sox were leading 3-2 in the Series, and Game 6 in Shea Stadium was tied 3-3 into the 10th. Henderson hit a tie-breaking home run. The baseball struck near the left field pole, next to which there was a huge clock reading 11:59.
The Red Sox had not won the World Series since 1918 and I quickly decided that his trip around the bases was going to New England’s most famous midnight journey since Paul Revere. I wrote that with full detail and sweeping hyperbole. It was brilliant, I thought, and it never saw the light of day.
Buckner! (And Steamer Stanley.)
Dave Henderson died last Sunday of a heart attack at age 57. It’s a dang shame. Hendu seemed like a good dude, even if he had broken Mauch’s heart one last time.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Insensitive observations Don Riley (who died Thursday at 92) would have offered before Sunday’s showdown between Vikings and the Green Bushers:
• Clay Matthews’ long hair would be evidence that he’s not tough enough to stop Adrian Peterson.
• Aaron Rodgers’ mediocre play would be traced to his troubles with a “Hollywood bombshell.’’
• Throw in a Packers offensive line that was leakier than a wood roof with termites, and Don’s prediction would be, “Vikings 34, Bushers 14.’’