Former Mariners player and broadcaster was active in the Seattle community
By Greg Johns
SEATTLE -- Dave Henderson, who began his baseball career as the first player ever drafted by the Mariners and later became a postseason hero as an outfielder with the Red Sox and A's, passed away at the age of 57 on Sunday.
The man known throughout baseball as "Hendu" died of a heart attack at Harborview Hospital. Henderson had a kidney transplant about a month ago. He is survived by his wife Nancy, sons Chase and Trent, as well as former wife Loni.
"On behalf of the Seattle Mariners, I want to extend our deepest sympathies to Chase and Trent and Nancy and to Dave's many friends," Mariners team president Kevin Mather said. "He was a devoted father to his two sons and always willing to help someone in need."
After a 14-year playing career that included dramatic playoff moments with the Red Sox and A's, Henderson worked in real estate, as a player agent and as a color commentator for the Mariners from 1997-2006. He also filled in for several games in the Mariners' booth in 2011. He remained active with the Mariners and Seattle community, including his work with Rick's Toys For Kids, a charity he co-founded with longtime Mariners radio play-by-play announcer Rick Rizzs.
Henderson, renowned for his positive attitude and huge smile, spent much of his adult life raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support research into Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects his son, Chase.
Henderson was a first-round Draft pick (No. 26 overall) of the expansion Mariners in 1977 out of Dos Palos (Calif.) High School, and he played for the Mariners, Red Sox, Giants, A's and Royals during his Major League career from 1981-94. He was an American League All-Star with the A's in 1991 and played in four World Series with the Red Sox in 1986 and A's in 1988, '89 and '90.
"Dave was one of the most popular Mariners in our history, but Dave was also one of the most popular players in Red Sox and A's history," Mather said. "He had a special ability to connect with people, both inside the game and in the communities in which he lived. I never saw him at the ballpark, or on the golf course, without a big smile on his face."
While he hit .258 with 197 home runs and 708 RBIs in his career, Henderson was best known for his clutch postseason performances. He delivered one of the biggest home runs in Red Sox history in 1986. Boston was one strike away from elimination in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series against the Angels when Henderson -- who had been hitless in the series -- blasted a go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning. The Red Sox would go on to win the game and the series.
Henderson also played an important role for the A's teams that went to three consecutive World Series. His best season came in 1988, when he hit 24 home runs and set career highs in RBIs (94), batting average (.304) and OPS (.887).