Elrod Gerome Hendricks
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 175 lb.
- Debut April 13, 1968
- Final Game September 19, 1979
- Born December 22, 1940 in Charlotte Amalie, V.I.
- Died December 21, 2005 in Glen Burnie, MD USA
Elrod Hendricks was the sixth man from the U.S. Virgin Islands to reach the majors and the second from St. Thomas after Al McBean. He was a member of two World Series champion teams with the Baltimore Orioles, one as a player (1970) and one as a coach (1983).
Ellie signed with the Milwaukee Braves as a free agent in March 1959 after Hank Aaron visited the Virgin Islands along with some Braves scouts. Hendricks was assigned to the McCook Braves of the Nebraska State League, where he batted .235 (8-34) with no homers and 3 RBI. His teammates included Phil Niekro and Pat Jordan, author of A False Spring. He played for the Wellsville Braves in 1960, batting .235 with 11 HR and 36 RBI. After the Braves released him, he was out of baseball for all of the 1961 summer season, although he was playing in the Puerto Rico Winter League with the Santurce Crabbers. This helped him sign with the St. Louis Cardinals on November 21, 1961.
In 1962, Hendricks played with the Winnipeg Goldeyes in the Northern League, and batted .211 with 3 HR and 22 RBI. Hendricks remained with the Goldeyes in 1963, and batted .280 with 3 HR and 12 RBI. The Cardinals released Hendricks on June 13th, and the Jalisco Charros of the Mexican League signed Hendricks. Again, his Santurce connections kept his career alive. In 1964, Hendricks batted .292 with 10 HR and 45 RBI. In 1965, Hendricks blossomed and batted .285 with 35 HR and 98 RBI and became known as the "Mexican Babe Ruth." Hendricks continued his power hitting in 1966, batting .301 with 23 HR and 87 RBI. Hendricks also played with the AA El Paso Sun Kings of the Texas League following the end of the season and batted .268 (15-56) with 3 HR and 12 RBI. In Hendricks' last year with Jalisco, 1967, he had his best year ever, batting .316 with 41 HR and 112 RBI. Hendricks also played with the California Angels' AAA team, the Seattle Angels, and batted .222 (8-36) with 2 HR and 4 RBI.
The Baltimore Orioles drafted Hendricks from the Angels in the 1967 Rule V Draft on November 28, 1967. Earl Weaver, Ellie's manager in Santurce, was one of his biggest backers. With the Orioles, Hendricks formed a platoon with Andy Etchebarren. He batted .202 with 7 HR and 23 RBI in 1968, following that with a .244/.333/.383 line behind 12 HR and 38 RBI in 1969. In 1970, Hendricks contributed a .242/.317/.382 line with 12 HR and 41 RBI. then batted .250/.334/.386 with 9 HR and 42 RBI in 1971. The Orioles played in the World Series three straight years from 1969 to 1971, and Hendricks played in all three Fall Classics. He hit .364 with a home run as the Orioles defeated the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970 World Series. Hendricks split the 1972 season with the Orioles, batting .155 (13-84) with 4 RBI before being traded to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Tommy Davis on August 18th. He finished the year with the Cubs batting .116 (5-43) with 2 HR and 6 RBI.
Following the end of that injury-plagued season, Hendricks was traded back to the Orioles for catcher Frank Estrada on October 27th. In 1973, Hendricks batted .178 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in 66 games. Playing more in 1974, Hendricks batted .208 with 3 HR and 8 RBI in 66 games. Hendricks appeared in 85 games in 1975, and batted .215/.319/.377 with 8 HR and 38 RBI. During those years, first Earl Williams and then Dave Duncan were the Orioles' main receivers, with Etchebarren still around the first couple of seasons.
In 1976, Hendricks appeared in 28 games with the Orioles, batting .139 (11-79) with 1 HR and 4 RBI before being traded to the New York Yankees, with pitchers Doyle Alexander, Jimmy Freeman, Ken Holtzman, and Grant Jackson for pitchers Dave May, Tippy Martinez, Dave Pagan, Scott McGregor, and catcher Rick Dempsey. Hendricks finished the year with the Bronx Bombers batting .226 (12-53) with 3 HR and 5 RBI. The Yankees reached the World Series that year, although Ellie was only used as a pinch-hitter in the postseason, with Thurman Munson getting all the starts at catcher. In 1977, Hendricks spent most of the year with the AAA Syracuse Chiefs, batting .281 with 11 HR and 37 RBI, and only played 10 games with the Yankees, batting .273 (3-11) with 1 HR and 3 RBI.
The Yankees let Hendricks go as a free agent after the 1977 season, and the Orioles signed him on November 23rd. By this time, Hendricks was a coach but was activated twice, once in 1978, as Weaver needed a fill-in while outfielder Gary Roenicke was temporarily sent to the minors. Ellie batted .333 in 13 games, also pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings and giving up only one hit in a 24-10 blowout loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1979, Hendricks made one last playing appearance, going 0 for 1 in 1 game.
Hendricks finished his 12-year major league career with a career .220 average, 62 HR and 228 RBI.
Following his full-time retirement as a player, Hendricks maintained the role of Orioles bullpen coach. He held this position for 28 seasons, starting in 1978 and continuing through 11 changes of manager. Ellie was mentioned as a managerial candidate himself on several occasions, but he only ever served a couple of stints as acting manager in 1988 while Frank Robinson had a bad back.
A son from his first marriage, Elrod Hendricks, Jr., was signed to a minor league contract in 1983. Two sons from his second marriage, Ryan Hendricks and Ian Hendricks, played in the minors in the 1990s.
Ellie was re-assigned by the Orioles after the end of the 2005 season. He had suffered a mild stroke that April. In December 2005, Hendricks died of a heart attack, one day before his 65th birthday. No Oriole has worn his #44 since his passing.
- Orioles Information And Record Book 2001