Dave Henderson, who spent parts of 14 seasons as a major-league outfielder and authored one of the most famous postseason home runs in history, has died at the age of 57. MLB announced his passing on Sunday.
According to Bob Nightengale, Henderson died one month after receiving a kidney transplant. A number of Henderson’s former Oakland teammates told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the cause of death was a heart attack.
The Mariners originally chose Henderson out of Dos Palos High School, about an hour outside Fresno, with the 26th-overall pick of the 1977 draft — the franchise’s first-ever draft selection. Seattle was able to persuade Henderson to forego a possible football career, and by 1981 he was the M’s Opening Day center fielder.
Henderson didn’t quite live up to the press clippings in Seattle, and in August of 1986 he was traded to the Red Sox as part of a six-player swap. Some seven weeks later in the ALCS against the Angels, he did this, with Boston one strike from elimination.
If there’s anything that captures the ebullience and sense of play with which Henderson went about his business, it’s that joyful spin upon hitting the ball deep into the seats at Anaheim Stadium. To hear those who knew Dave Henderson tell it, that was fully in keeping with the way he played baseball and lived his life.
From there came a trade to the Giants and then a free agent contract with Oakland, where Henderson enjoyed the best years of his career. Henderson retired following a brief stint with the Royals in 1994. He ended his career with a 108 OPS+, 197 home runs, 1,324 hits, more than 9,000 defensive innings in center field, and one All-Star appearance. In 36 career postseason games, Henderson batted .298/.376/.570 with seven home runs.
In 2012, Henderson returned to Seattle to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before a game against the Rangers