Former Oriole Elrod Hendricks passed away at age 64.
Hendricks was a catcher with the Orioles in the 1960s and 1970s, and then was the bullpen coach for 28 years, with his tenure as bullpen coach for Baltimore ending only this past October.
I've probably talked about this before, so if I'm repeating myself, I apologize, but one of my real vivid memories as a child was going to a Rangers game with my mother and two little brothers at some point around 1982 or 1983 -- I was about 12 years old or so -- and sitting in the first row behind the visitor's dugout along the third base line at old Arlington Stadium.
It was one of your typical early-80s Rangers games -- the team was bad, and there probably wasn't more than 15,000 folks there -- but I remember Hendricks and Oriole reliever Tim Stoddard spending much of the game chatting with us, joking with my brother Sam (who brought his glove and kept telling batters to hit one to him), and generally acting like normal folks out at the ballgame. I'm sure we were obnoxious little kids -- we would have been about 12, 9 and 5 -- but Hendricks was friendly and gracious through the whole game, and gave us each a baseball to take home afterwards.
I've been a fan for as far back as I can remember, but that's the only time I've ever experienced anything like that at a ballgame, and Hendricks and Stoddard's friendliness really stuck in my mind.
The article I linked talks about how Hendricks came back last season after an early April stroke in large part because he was so respected in the clubhouse, and indicates that the organization wanted him to have an off-field role going forward because of how popular he was in the community.
Just about everything I've read about Hendricks over the years indicates that he was one of the really good people involved in the game. I'm sure the Orioles team, players and fans are going to miss him.
Update [2005-12-22 14:44:7 by Adam J. Morris]: -- Some thoughts on Hendricks from the folks at Camden Chat...