Thursday, May 1, 2014

Interview Part 3: Randy Hennis, Stat Line


Brevard County Manatees in the St. Lucie dugout in 2011. Randy Hannis played and coached for Brevard County. (G21D Photo)
Part 1: Biggest Jolt | Part 2: Worked For | Part 3: Stat Line

Randy Hennis' major league stat line lends itself to positive comparisons.

A 0.00 career ERA will do that.

But Hennis knows there's more to it than the simple number. Namely, backing that ERA was just 9.2 innings of big league work as a September call up in 1990.

"If I pitched 200 innings in the big leagues, I promise you, I would have given up a lot more hits and definately more runs, that's for sure," Hennis told The Greatest 21 Days recently. "But it's kind of a unique and interesting thing to look at and talk about."

Sometimes he even jokes about it.

"'Hey, I know when the right time to retire is, before you give up a run in the big leagues,'" Hennis recalled. He then added a bit of the reality, "even though that wasn't the case. It was an injury that did it to me."

That injury was one to his throwing shoulder. He suffered it the next season back at AAA. At first it seemed minor. In all, it forced him from the game for a year and a half. While he returned to the field, he never made it close to the bigs again.
A Brevard County Manatee pitcher readies for his delivery in 2011 in St. Lucie, Fla. Randy Hennis pitched for Brevard County in 1994. (G21D Photo)
Hennis spoke to The Greatest 21 Days by phone recently from his adopted home state of Florida.

Hennis told of turnin pro and working his way through the minors before breaking through in September 1990. He also told of that time in the bigs, three total outings, one start, where he gave up a single hit and no runs.

He also told of his efforts to get back to the bigs, efforts derailed by that shoulder injury. Then came several years as a coach in the minors, before settling in away from the game in Florida.

After pitching so well in that September call-up the previous year, Hennis hoped he'd get another shot in 1991. He knew he likely wouldn't make Houston out of spring training, but the hope was he'd work his way back.

"I knew I was going to kind of have to reprove myself over again," Hennis said.

That spring, though, he didn't pitch well. Starting the year back at AAA Tucson,  he seemed to pitch well. But there was also something going on with his arm. About two months in, something popped in his shoulder.
The former White Stadium in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Randy Hennis played at White played in the Florida State League in 1988, 1993 and 1994. (G21D Photo)

Hennis had never really been hurt before and, at first, this seemed minor. After a minor surgery, he was supposed to be back for winter ball.


By the next spring, his shoulder wasn't better. Then it was time for major surgery. He missed all of 1992.

"Everyone deals with it differently," Hennis said, "because there are a lot of different emotions with it, a lot of uncertainty, worry and concern."

Hennis said he approached it with a simple mindset: Do what the doctors and trainers told him to do so he could get back on the field.

"It can be very much an emotional roller coaster," Hennis said, "especially when your livelihood and your dreams are based upon how one little part of your arm functions."

He tried to stay positive as much as possible.

When he finally made it back to the field, it was a field in the high-A Florida State League. In 14 starts, he went 0-3, with a 3.31 ERA. He moved to the Marlins system for 1994, getting six outings, four starts at high-A Brevard County. They were the last outings of his career.
Brevard County on deck. Randy Hennis won a World Series ring coaching with the Marlins at Brevard County in 1997. (G21D Photo)
With the Marlins, talk turned to coaching. It was something Hennis had always wanted to try. But he also wanted to pitch.

"That's when I decided I needed to make the move and just have a little reality talk with myself," Hennis said.

"You never want to give up playing," Hennis added. "You never want to stop playing, because that's the ultimate thing you can do, being out there and being competitive and everything else that goes along with being a professional athlete."

So, in 1995, started coaching in the minors with the Marlins. He did that for seven years. In 1997, the year the Marlins won the World Series, he served as coach back at Brevard County. For his efforts, Hennis received a championship ring.

Before he was done, Hennis made it as high as AAA Calgary.

Hennis said the move to coaching was definitely an adjustment, moving from trying to better himself to trying to better his players.
Roger Dean Stadium in West Palm Beach in 2011. Randy Hennis played and coached in the Florida State League. (G21D Photo)
"Having them appreciate what you're doing and thank you is kind of the ultimate compliment you can get as a coach," Hennis said. "As a coach, it's all about the players. It's about them. It's making sure they're on the right track."

After his seven years with the Marlins, Hennis stayed in Florida, but left the pros to go into another profession, the car business. He's done just about everything, including sales. He's now working in car insurance, in a dealership.

He is married to his wife of three and a half years, Lena. Together, they have four kids, two each from previous marriages.

Hennis also still does the odd baseball lesson on the side.

Hennis said he was content with leaving the pros and moving on, and he still is.

"I'm able to say I pitched in the big leagues, albeit very, very briefly," Hennis said, noting his other accomplishments as a coach. "So I was content enough at the time to be able to walk away from it and not feel full remorse or regret for leaving.

"Even though it never really leaves you," Hennis continued, "there's always a part of you, no matter what, that would like to be a part of the game or still be involved in the game. But there are other ways you can still be a part of the game."

Part 1: Biggest Jolt | Part 2: Worked For | Part 3: Stat Line

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