Sunday, November 8, 2009

Final Card: Bill Henry

(Now that the World Series is over, I'm putting away my Yankees and Phillies cards, and will focus on players' final cards for awhile.)

In an era filled with pitchers like Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale, Whitey Ford, Denny McLain, Jim Kaat, and Sam McDowell, Bill Henry (#239) isn't someone I (and probably most others) ever gave a second thought about. But by the time he retired in 1969, he had put together a 16-year career as a fine relief pitcher.

Here are his minor-league stats, which Topps sometimes leaves out for space reasons. We see that Bill started in 1948 with the Class C Clarksdale Planters. Before the 1952 season, he was acquired by the Red Sox, and pitched for them for 4 seasons, as a starter and reliever.

After spending 1956 and 1957 in the minors, Bill returned in 1958 with the Cubs, as a full-time reliever. From 1959 to 1963, Henry collected double-digit saves each year. After 2 seasons with the Cubs, he was traded to the Reds for 3B/1B/OF Frank Thomas following the 1959 season.

He was traded to the Giants in May 1965. Beginning in 1966, he was pitching fewer innings per game. It seems that he was probably used as a situational lefty.

Midway through the 1968 season, the Giants sold Henry to the Pirates. He was released in August and not signed by another team. (This explains why he has no 1969 baseball card.)

After a stint in the Seattle Pilots' training camp, the Astros signed him at the end of May 1969, and released him a month later, ending his career. For his last 2 seasons, he pitched in 17 games in 1968 and 3 games in 1969.

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