USA News

In left-center field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, lasting memories create ‘Elrod’s Corner’ in honor of longtime coach

It still surprises Lindsay Barnes, all these years later. Back then, an elementary school student visiting Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the batting practice stop at the bullpen was a mandatory part of the trip. But Barnes didn’t expect a connection with a coach, particularly one who had such a long major league career.

Even still, he handed an Orioles cap down into the bullpen. The coach asked where he was from and what grade he was in. And then that player-turned-coach handed the cap back.

The cap read: Elrod Hendricks, No. 44.

“Fan for life, from that point forward,” Barnes said. “Couldn’t be nicer.”

Hendricks played 11 years with the Orioles and spent an additional 28 years as the club’s bullpen coach. In 2001, he was inducted into the Orioles’ Hall of Fame, cementing his place as an ambassador of the organization before his death in 2005.

Each time Barnes and his family visited the ballpark, stopping at the bullpen to see Hendricks became a mandatory stop.

When Barnes noticed the renderings for the new left field wall at Camden Yards, the right angle in the alley by the bullpen caught his attention. Growing up, that’s where he’d stand during batting practice. That’s where he’d meet Hendricks and say hello.

So Barnes, now 38, had an idea. That new corner in left-center field along the bullpen? It needed a name. And that name could be “Elrod’s Corner,” commemorating the longtime catcher and bullpen coach who always had time for an elementary schooler with a cap to sign.

“It’s almost a bit like Pesky’s Pole at Fenway, that this particular area needs a name, and there could be nobody else after whom this could be named than Elrod Hendricks,” Barnes said. “That was his domain for so long, and it’s where so many Orioles fans and kids, like myself, had so many interactions with him.”

Barnes tweeted out the idea in January, hoping to drum up support for “Elrod’s Corner” by tagging the Orioles, the team’s chairman and CEO John Angelos, and the executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias.

He didn’t hear back, but momentum has since picked up. The club is unofficially using the name to reference the corner, and while Barnes doesn’t claim credit for coining the name, seeing Hendricks honored at Camden Yards is special — because Hendricks made Barnes’ trips to the yard special.

“He was as much a part of the ballpark experience as Boog’s Barbeque or any of the other things that make Camden Yards great,” Barnes said.

In the offseason, public appearances were frequent ways for players to cover expenses. Hall of Fame pitcher and MASN broadcaster Jim Palmer recalled how Hendricks was a common presence for the Orioles as the Virgin Islands resident turned Baltimore into his year-round home.

Palmer’s connection followed Hendricks to the Puerto Rican winter league, where he threw a no-hitter in 1968 to get his major league career back on track. Throwing to Hendricks was easy. Palmer would tell the catcher to put his glove on the outside corner, and he’d do it. The rest took care of itself.

“I miss him so much,” Palmer said. “If you wanted to get your pulse on what was going on with the Orioles, especially as a broadcaster, all you had to do was talk to Elrod.”

Palmer isn’t alone in missing Hendricks’ presence around the yard. When Barnes took his son to Camden Yards in 2019 for the first time, Hendricks wasn’t there. Instead, the Virginia resident described to his son, Teddy, how he used to visit the bullpen with his father to say hello to Hendricks.

“It felt very special to be able to share with him something that has brought our family together for so long, and something my father shared with me,” Barnes said. “And Elrod was a part of that. Stopping by the bullpen and saying hello to Elrod was absolutely something we had to do every time we went to the park.”

When Barnes takes his daughter, Charlotte, to Camden Yards for her first game, he’ll have something more to share than memories. He’ll be able to show her “Elrod’s Corner,” a legacy for where the catcher and bullpen coach left lasting impressions with a simple question, a smile and a signature on a hat.

()

File source

Tags
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button
Close