Thursday, December 10, 2009

#456 Bill Henry

#456 Bill Henry
I actually know a guy named Bill Henry. No relation. True story. Not interesting, but true.

Fun facts about Bill Henry:

-A native of Alice, TX, Bill attended the University of Houston and pitched in the independent minor leagues from 1948-1952 before being signed by the Red Sox.

-When he debuted in Boston, he became the first UH Cougar to play in the majors.

-Henry spent parts of four seasons in Beantown, going 15-20 with a 3.80 ERA in 75 games (42 starts).

-Returned to the minors for all of 1956 and 1957 before reemerging with the Cubs as a reliever; would start only two games during the rest of his career. He was rejuvenated in Chicago, posting ERAs of 2.88 and 2.68 and WHIPs of 0.98 and 1.02. In 1959, he led the National League with 65 games pitched and notched nine wins and a dozen saves.

-The Cubs traded Bill and two other players to the Reds for Frank Thomas. In 1960, the lefty was an All-Star in his first season in Cincy. He had a career-high 17 saves, ranking third in the N.L. in that category; it was part of a five-year run in which he ranked seventh or better in saves.

-He excelled again in 1961, putting up a 2.19 ERA and 16 saves for the N.L. champs. However, in his only taste of postseason play, he was hit hard in the decisive fifth game of the World Series.

-Bill rebounded from two straight subpar seasons to put up an absurdly low ERA (0.87) and WHIP (0.83) in 52.1 innings in 1964.

-Pitched until he was 41, spending the tail end of his career with the Giants, Pirates, and Astros. Overall, he was 46-50 with a 3.26 ERA and 90 saves in parts of 16 seasons.

-Held Hall of Famer Frank Robinson to one hit in 17 career at-bats (.118 OPS).

-Oddly enough, he discovered in 2007 that he had been a victim of identity theft when a Florida resident who had taken his name died and a SABR researcher put the pieces together. Bill is still alive and well in Deer Park, TX.
#456 Bill Henry (back)


  1. Hi Kev,

    There was also another pitcher named Bill Henry who had a few cups of coffee for the Yankees in the mid-1960s. (I think he's on a '68 or '69 Yankees rookie card.)

  2. I live right across the bridge from him. Drive past his street every day. That plus the fact he's a fellow UH Cougar make this a cool card to me.

  3. Bouton comments in "Ball Four" that Henry had the expansion Pilots ballclub made out of spring training in 1969, but suddenly retired, stating that he didn't want to take a roster spot away from a younger ballplayer since his better days as a player were behind him. Pretty classy by Bill Henry.

  4. Jim - I wonder if the second Bill Henry is offended that his identity wasn't stolen as well.

    Bob - That is cool! I don't believe I live near any major leaguers, but Dave Johnson (the pitcher/MASN analyst) and I used to share a dentist.

    Brox - I'd forgotten about that. Good catch!