Sunday brought with it sad news for the Oakland A's family, as legendary centerfielder Dave Henderson passed away in Seattle at age 57 of cardiac arrest. "Hendu", as he was known throughout his career, had had a kidney transplant a month ago.
Hendu spent six seasons with the A's, joining Oakland as a free agent before the 1988 season. From 1988-1991, Hendu amassed 20.7 WAR, a total that ranked second only to teammate Rickey Henderson during that time span. Hendu hit .263 with 104 homers and 377 runs batted in during his time with the A's, which included three AL pennants and one World Series title.
Hendu also won an AL pennant with the Boston Red Sox in 1986 and he hit one of the most famous homeruns in post-season history with Boston, a two-out, two-strike homerun in the top of the ninth inning of Game Five that prevented the California Angels from winning their first AL title. The Red Sox would go on to win the ALCS that season before losing to the New York Mets in seven games in the World Series. Hendu was a career .298 hitter with seven homers and 20 RBI in 36 career post-season games.
Hendu was more than just an outstanding player, however. He was one of the most popular players on the A's during his time with the team. The A's passionate bleacher fans named an area in the centerfield bleachers 'Henduland'. Hendu was known around the game for gap-toothed smile and his always cheerful personality. His death brought forth a wave of grief around social media from players, coaches, fans and writers:
Hendu was always a favorite of mine growing up. I had an opportunity to meet Hendu briefly at two card shows when I was a kid. At both shows, Hendu took extra time to talk to this star-struck kid despite having a million other things to do. My 1989 World Series champion shirt with Hendu's signature on it is one of my most cherished childhood possesions. It was an honor to watch him play and to have even shared a moment of his time. My thoughts are with his many, many friends and family.