The cushy life of the backup catcher.

The cushy life of the backup catcher.

The stadium scene.
May 10 2004 11:44 AM

Last Man Crouching

The cushy life of the backup catcher.

(Continued from Page 1)

All backups take their cue from Elrod Hendricks, the patron saint of erstwhile catchers. Hendricks nailed the role so well he never left. Best known to baseball purists for getting in a minor league fight with Pat Jordan, recounted in Jordan's A False Spring, Hendricks spent a brief period as a starter, a few years as Mike Cuellar's personal catcher (then an occasionally activated bullpen catcher), and for the past two decades he's been the Orioles' bullpen coach. At 63, the man still wears shin guards on special occasions. He has survived a stadium, Arthur Lee Rhodes, and Cal Ripken's streak. Four years ago, I saw him hitting on the ladies at the Boston Sheraton. Ever the backup catcher, he still seemed to be going 0 for 4.

Stephen Rodrick is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and Men’s Journal. This essay is adapted from The Magical Stranger: A Son’s Journey Into His Father’s Life published by Harpers. For more information: themagicalstranger.com

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