Dave Henderson dies at 57
Posted on December 27, 2015
Dave Henderson #42 of the 1989 Oakland A’s celebrates their World Series championship 25 years ago, before a game against the Baltimore Orioles at O.co Coliseum on July 19, 2014 in Oakland, California. Henderson is carrying a rose that he will lay down at the pitcher’s mound in remembrance of Bob Welch, who died June 9. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
Dave Henderson, the beloved center fielder of the great Oakland Athletics teams that played in three consecutive World Series in 1988, 89, and 90 and beat the San Francisco Giants to win it all in 1989, died Sunday morning in Seattle at 57. Henderson broke into the big leagues with the Seattle Mariners in 1981 but made his mark on the national stage with his incredible postseason heroics for the Boston Red Sox in the 1986 American League Championship Series against the California Angels. I will never forget watching on television with my dad when Henderson hit the two-out, two-strike home run in the top of the ninth inning in Game 5. Trailing 5-4 in the game and down three games to one in the series, Henderson’s home run gave Boston a fighting chance. They went on to beat the Angels in seven games to advance to the World Series, where they lost in equally dramatic fashion to the New York Mets in seven games.
I began photographing Major League Baseball in 1987 when I was a 22-year-old college intern at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had the chance to shoot several San Francisco Giants home games on Fujichrome RDP 100 and I have the slides to prove it, including this very rare image of Henderson during one of his 15 games wearing the orange and black at the end of the 1987 season.
In 1988 Henderson joined the A’s as their center fielder and began the best stretch of his career wearing the green and gold while playing in front of huge crowds of adoring fans for the best team in baseball. Henderson played with some of the biggest stars in the game on those A’s clubs. His teammates included Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco, Dave Parker, Mark McGwire, Dave Stewart, and Dennis Eckersley, yet Hendu seemed to be the glue that held the club together. Henderson was one of those guys you took for granted sometimes, but he was a real winner and his teammates loved him.
Former A’s pitcher Stewart told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that Henderson was his best friend, and marveled at his ability to anchor an outfield that included two outsized personalities in Rickey Henderson and Jose Canseco.
“Hendu was a great communicator,” Stewart said. “He knew how to walk in every circle and communicate every message that needed to be heard. He found a way to keep Jose and Rickey on the same page, and that’s a very talented outfield field with very strong personalities. He was outstanding at that.
Looking through my archive of Henderson pictures today I was disappointed I did not have more images. I shot most of my stuff of him in 1990 and 1991 on color negative film when I was working for The National Sports Daily and I did not get much of that film back when we went out of business. Henderson was always such a joy to photograph. His smile was amazing and he always seemed to be having fun out there playing a kids game.
Henderson is the second member of those great A’s ball clubs to die recently. Last year I wrote about the passing of pitcher Bob Welch, who also died at age 57. I don’t enjoy writing about ball players when they die, but when guys like Henderson pass away they deserve to be remembered, and if I have some photographs of the man that will help fans remember this special player it is my job to share them. RIP Hendu.