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Hendu Part II

Thank you for indulging me and my Little League ramblings... Here's Monday's post, a few hours early.

Steve Henderson called back on Friday! We told the story of Henderson's most noteworthy walk-off, a three-run homer to cap a five-run rally against the Giants in 1980 not long ago. "Hendu" gave us the scoop on why that was the second-most significant thing that happened that day.

"I officially got engaged that day," Henderson said, talking from the road while on assignment as the Devil Rays minor league hitting coordinator. He went on to explain that he picked up his girlfriend of nearly four years (and now wife of nearly 25) Pamela at LaGuardia Airport. The two had agreed to get married, but it wasn't really official until Pamela put on the engagement ring in the car.

"I didn't let the papers know about that," Henderson said. "She knew about it and it was all that mattered." Hendu went on to explain his knack for the walk-offs. In his stint with the Mets, he had five walk-off hits, and the home run to beat the Giants was one of three walk-off three-run homers. Henderson came from the Reds in the trade that sent Mets hero Tom Seaver to Cincinnati ("I always thank Mr. Seaver whenever I see him because the trade was what gave me the opportunity to play."). He quickly made a positive impression.

"The fans always treated me so nice in New York," Henderson said. "My first career at bat, I pinch-hit and struck out, but they still clapped for me. I wanted to let the fans know that I was going to do something for them. (The next time I pinch-hit) I hit a walk-off homer to beat the Braves. I really enjoyed being up in the big spot. Every time I had a chance to do something, it was great. My main goal was not to think about anything. I just wanted to hit the ball hard."

That was Henderson's goal that day against the Giants. Fully relaxed now that the big event of the day was out of the way, Henderson got a good swing to the opposite field and lauched a stunning three-run shot.

"I could just feel that the guys in the dugout were waiting for me to hit a home run," Henderson said. "I was known for ending games and they were counting on me to deliver."

"I remember the fans calling him out for several curtain calls," Pamela Henderson said. "I remember hugging Peggy Hodges (wife of Mets catcher Ron Hodges), yelling and screaming that it was the perfect end to a perfect day."

Steve Henderson had one other good walk-off story, and we can summarize it here. Three months to the day of hitting that magical home run, he came up in a big spot again, with the Mets and Cubs tied in the ninth inning, two runners on base and Bruce Sutter on the mound. "I always hit Sutter pretty well (he was 6-for-20 with three home runs for his career)," Henderson said. "Lee Smith was in the bullpen. He told me later that they didn't want Sutter to face me, but everything happened so fast. Lee threw his first warm-up pitch, and as he did, my (walk-off) home run bounced into the bullpen."

True Metdersons know... Steve Henderson is the only player in Mets history (to this point) with two walk-off hits against the Braves.

Comments

What an awesome story!!!

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