Remember this Soft-Tossing Lefty: Mark Hendrickson

 Thanks for the feedback from the Ron Anderson piece. It was enough to make me write another one.




Name: Mark Hendrickson 

College: Washington St.

Believable Dialogue from 1997:


"Mark Hendrickson is starting tonight."




Sixers Run: 1996-1997


Mark Hendrickson Facts: Mark Hendrickson dyed his hair for the role of Toni Kukoc in the straight-to-DVD movie, The Tall Waiter.


When I was ten, like a lot of kids, I wanted to be an NBA Basketball player. But alas, 4’7" gritty point guards with no off-hand can barely sniff the court for their CYO team, let alone back-up Dana Barros.  


At age eleven, I switched gears. Told my parents I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I had just gone 3 for 4 against the Trevose Pizza Cardinals. It was a Tuesday. I was really seeing the ball well. Turned out to be a mirage, however – just some shoddy Cardinals defense and a generous scorekeeper.


Reality set in. So I turned my sights to other careers. By age twelve, I wanted to be a doctor. A veterinarian. Then a comedian. Then a doctor again. Maybe a firefighter. My career aspirations then became incredibly short-sighted. At sixteen, I just wanted to lose my virginity. At age twenty, I just wanted to have sex a second time.


You see, at some point when he was young, Mark Hendrickson wanted to be an NBA player. And I’m sure at another time; he wanted to play professional baseball. Incredibly, admirably even, Hendrickson accomplished both.


Mark Hendrickson was selected by the Sixers in the 1996 NBA Draft along with a certain diminutive scoring guard and Oklahoma’s Ryan Minor (The answer to which player took over for Cal Ripken Jr. in Baltimore. Ryan Minor, like our main character, also switched to baseball). Hendrickson was a 6’9" forward – a speculative pick really – a player Sixers brass hoped could stretch the floor. In hindsight, Hendrickson was overmatched in the NBA. He played just one, quiet and forgettable season for the Sixers and head coach, Johnny Davis. Hendrickson then bounced around the league for a couple years, including a stint with New Jersey as part of the Sixers / Nets  Student Exchange Program in the 1990's.


(Yeah, after further research it looks like Hendrickson wasn’t traded to New Jersey. Allow me some creative license here).


The left-hand pitching Hendrickson made his debut for the Blue Jays in 2002. Despite Big Mark’s towering stature on the mound, Randy Johnson he was not. Big Mark was a soft-tosser, a guy whose 86 M.P.H. fastball made even Chad Ogea blush. In baseball cliché speak, Hendrickson survived ten seasons in the Major Leagues on craftiness and guile – a taller Repo Man, a modern day Matlock. Mark Hendrickson will never be mistaken for Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson. Yet Mark, too, is a card-carrying member of the exclusive two-sport fraternity. Hendrickson played in the NBA. Quit. Then joined the Major Leagues. He did what so many people can only dream of. And he did it twice.


Hell, I still can’t dribble with my off-hand.

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