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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Tom Henke, Good Memories - 28

Tom Henke made two All-Star teams over his career, helped the Blue Jays to a world championship and he ended on a campaign with the Cardinals that might have led others to return for more.

Regarding the ending, Henke told The Tulsa World later why he left the game when he did.

"At that point in my career I had accomplished everything I could in baseball and I wanted to see my (four) kids grow up," Henke told The World on the occasion of his induction into the AA Tulsa Drillers Wall of Fame. "It's also good to not stick around too long and retire when the fans still have good memories of you."

Henke picked up many good memories in his career, most of them at the end of ballgames as he saved them. Henke saved a total of 311 games over his career. He also saved two games in the 1992 World Series.

Henke's career began in 1980, taken by the Rangers in the fourth round of the June secondary phase of the draft out of East Central Community College in Mississippi.

Henke started with the Rangers between single-A Asheville and the rookie Gulf Coast League. He went 3-5 between them with a 3.54 ERA.

He made Tulsa for 15 games in 1981, then for 52 in 1982. That September, he debuted in Texas. He saw eight relief appearances and gave up two earned in 15.2 innings of work.

Henke returned for another eight games in Texas in 1983, then 25 in 1984. He saved one game in 1983 and two in 1984.

The Blue Jays then selected him as a free agent compensation pick for 1985 and Henke reached double-digit saves for the first time. He would see double digits for the rest of his career.

Henke saved 13 in 1985, then 27 in 1986. He led the league with 34 in 1987, and recorded his first All-Star selection.

He went on to save 32 in 1990, 32 again in 1991 and 34 in 1992. The combination of Henke as closer and Duane Ward as setup gave the Blue Jays a formidable bullpen in the playoffs that year.

"This is the way we've done it 50 or 60 times a year for the last five or six years," Ward told The Los Angeles Times after Henke's second World Series save. "It's almost academic--the eighth inning is mine and the ninth is Henke's."

Henke moved back to the Rangers for 1993 and 1994. He saved 40 games in 1993. He then signed with the Cardinals for what would be his final season.

Henke got into 52 games in relief that final year and turned in a 1.82 ERA. He also saved 36.

The Sporting News discussed Henke's Hall of Fame chances in 2017, suggesting that if he played a few more years, he would have gotten a closer look. Henke reflected on his final season.

"It's nice to be remembered in that light," Henke told The Sporting News. "People remember your last year and they remember how dominant and how good you were that year. They attribute it to the rest of your life, almost. That's a nice thing, it really is, instead of having people say, 'Well, you hung on too long.'"
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,099
Made the Majors:1,134-36.6%-X
Never Made Majors:1,965-63.4%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 469
10+ Seasons in the Minors:281

1 comment:

  1. What set is this from? I have this card myself and I have no idea where it comes from, and even if it is a legit card or not.