Last Man Crouching
The cushy life of the backup catcher.
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.