Dec. 22, 2005 St. Thomas-born baseball star Elrod "Ellie" Hendricks died Wednesday of a heart attack in Baltimore, Md., just one day short of his 65th birthday.
"He was a great pops," his son, St. John resident Elrod Hendricks Jr., said.
He said his father always had a smile on his face and was always willing to help people.
Hendricks Jr. said that he met a lot of tourists who came to visit because his father told them about the Virgin Islands.
Hendricks Sr. is survived by his wife, Merle, and children Elroy, Abigail, Berecia, Monin, Ian, and Ryan, and Elrod.
Hendricks Jr. said funeral arrangements are pending.
Hendricks retired in October as the bullpen coach of the Baltimore Orioles after suffering a stroke in April. He spent a total of 37 years with the team, first serving as a player before going on to coach.
Orioles owner Peter Angelos said in a news release that the Orioles lost a great friend, a superb player and an extraordinary athlete. "There shall never be another Ellie," he said.
Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said that with Hendricks, what you saw was what you got there was no agenda. "When you talked about the Orioles, you talked about Elrod," he said.
Former Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson called Hendricks the most beloved baseball player of all time.
"Every ballpark that we would go into, he'd be the first one on the field signing autographs and saying 'hello,'" he said.
Condolences also poured in from the territory's leaders.
"Hendricks distinguished himself as one of major league baseball's greats and one of our local legends as a catcher for the Orioles in three consecutive World Series from 1969 to 1971," Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen said Thursday.
Hendricks played in the major leagues from 1968 to 1979. Most of those years were spent with the Orioles, but he played several seasons with the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees.
Earlier he played with teams in Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Milwaukee Braves minor league team.
He finished his career with a .220 batting average.
Hendricks operated baseball camps for the past 21 summers and often participated in club and community events. Just this week, he played Santa at a club Christmas party.
Christensen, who called Hendricks a role model, said "His legend will continue to inspire V.I. sports enthusiasts well into the future."
Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone said that Hendricks was a notable and charismatic individual. "He was a pioneer in his own rights as a brilliant baseball player who commanded the attention of not only his peers but internationally as well," Malone said.
Sen. Lorraine Berry said that Hendricks signed on to play professional ball when he was just 17.
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