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Thursday July 26, 2012
Jim Henderson has become the first-ever Dawg to play in the MLB, retiring three straight batters in the sixth inning on Thursday against the Washington Nationals.
By: Avery Buye
A Wednesday night phone call has validated years of hard work and determination for Dawgs’ alumnus Jim Henderson.
After 24 years of baseball, including six years of little league, five years playing for the Dawgs program, three years of college ball and ten years in the minor leagues, he has earned the opportunity of a lifetime.
Henderson has been called up by the Milwaukee Brewers as a member of their pitching staff as the team begins a four-game home series tonight against Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals.
As he took the mound in the sixth inning on Thursday evening, he earned the distinction as the first Dawg to play in the MLB. Henderson took full advantage of his first big league experience as he struck out the first batter he faced on a 97 mph fastball. He would finish the inning with only nine pitches thrown as he retired the side with a groundout to short and a flyout to centre.
“The Dawgs as an entire organization are so incredibly proud of Jim. From our management to our coaches to our J Dawgs players, we all feel like we will be with him as he takes the mound in Milwaukee,” said Dawgs managing director, John Ircandia.
His numbers are undeniable. The 29-year-old reliever has been impressive for the AAA Nashville Sounds, posting a 1.69 ERA over 35 relief appearances during the 2012 Pacific Coast League season
Henderson has dealt 56 strikeouts over 48 innings pitched for Nashville, while allowing only 36 hits and nine earned runs. His 15 saves rank him fourth amongst league pitchers.
“I have always had the mentality that I'm going to get to the big leagues,” said Henderson in an interview with www.dawgsbaseball.ca on June 4th. “I did put a bit more stress on getting off to a good start this year - last year I got off to a rough start and couldn't recover. I'm not getting any younger so I’ve got to make a push.”
Such impressive numbers landed him a spot in the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 11th in Buffalo, New York. He entered the game with two outs in the eighth inning, striking out the lone batter he faced, who also happened to be last year’s Triple-A player of the year.
Going back to his roots, Henderson has always been the consummate Dawg. He was a member of the original Dawgs Youth Team dating back to the late 1990s where he started as an 11-year-old. The team played 90+ games on the road every season to get the best possible competition.
He continued with the Dawgs Youth Club through high school until he earned his scholarships to Midland College in Texas and later to Tennessee. He was also a member of the inaugural Dawgs summer collegiate club in Calgary.
“It says a lot about what kind of player he was that even after the draft he continued to play for the club right up until he signed a professional contract,” added Ircandia about his time with the Dawgs.
His loyalty to the Dawgs program did not stop there. For the past several off-seasons Henderson has returned to Okotoks to train and coach the J Dawgs Academy.
“Jimmy has been a shining role model and mentor to this new generation of J Dawgs on what it takes to reach the highest level of the sport,” acknowledged Ircandia. “This is a dream come true for Jim and his commitment to the Dawgs Program over so many years has generated an absolute ton and support from Dawgs everywhere.”
This incredible feat is certainly well deserved as this hurler has paid his dues battling it out in the minor league system. Over the past five years, Henderson has faced uncertainty, injuries and organizational politics playing on a variety of teams and leagues ranging from Class-A to Triple-A ball.
Ircandia colourfully added, “I note that the Brewers have given him jersey #51, the number of another pretty good closer, Trevor Hoffman. We hope that bodes well for Jimmy as he continues to realize on his dream. As Jim's mother as signs off on her emails, ‘Go Brewers...Go Dawgs and J Dawgs!’”
Henderson was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 26th round of the 2003 amateur MLB entry draft. He was then selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft and was signed by the Brewers to a minor league contract in the spring of 2009.