Sports Outside the Beltway

Former MLB pitcher Bill Henry dead at 83 alive at 79

From Sports Illustrated-

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Bill Henry, who pitched in the majors for more than 15 seasons, has died. He was 83.

Henry died Aug. 27 at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, two days after he suffered a heart attack, his stepdaughter Debbie Lee said.

Born William Rodman Henry in Alice, Texas, the left-hander made his major-league debut in 1952 with the Boston Red Sox. Henry later pitched for the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants before ending his career in 1969 with the Houston Astros.

Henry had a career record of 46-50 and pitched in two 1961 World Series games with the Reds.

Since I was born in 1961, my memories of Henry come from playing past seasons with the baseball games made by Strat-O-Matic. Bill Henry, a left-handed relief pitcher, wasn’t really one of those one out lefty relief specialists we see today. In Henry’s most productive years, from 59-62 he averaged over an inning per relief appearance. Even two innings per game in 1959. For 1961, he was the Reds number two man coming out of the bullpen when they went to the World Series. Henry and Jim Brosnan saving the same amount of games(16), but with Brosnan having the heavier inning work load of the two.

What did Mark Twain once say, the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. That applies to Bill Henry. From today’s Miami Herald.

They lived 961 miles apart and never met.

One was a retired salesman living in Central Florida. The other, a big-league ballplayer who pitched in the 1961 World Series before settling down outside Houston.

All they shared was a common name, a square jawline and an affection for baseball.

But for 20 years, Bill C. Henry the salesman purported to be Bill R. Henry the baseball player. His wife and friends believed him — they had no reason not to — and the guy he pretended to be was none the wiser.

Until last week, when the 83-year-old former salesman died of a heart attack in Lakeland. Newspapers across the country ran obituaries announcing the death of the left-handed pitcher, recounting highlights of his 16-season career.

But that Bill Henry is still very much alive.

”I’ve been right here this whole time,” Henry, 79, said Thursday night from his home in Deer Park, Texas. “It was kind of a shock to hear people say they thought I was dead.”

A baseball historian read an obituary for the Lakeland man and noticed the birth dates and hometowns listed were different than what was on his Bill Henry memorabilia. The historian called Henry in Texas, who confirmed he was still living.

I’m glad you’re still alive Bill. People impersonating former major league relief pitchers. Welcome to Florida! The rules are certainly different here.

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