Astros in the Sky
Born: Oct 15, 1927
Relievers Bill Henry and Don Elston inspired Chicago sportswriter Jerome Holtzman in 1959 to develop a formula for determining what constitutes a save. Holtzman mused that the numbers of the Cubs duo would be comparable to those of the Pirates' Roy Face - although the Cubs relievers could hardly match his flashy 18-1 record. "So on a bus ride from Chicago to St. Louis I worked out the formula for the save," recalled Holtzman.
Nickamed "Gabby" because of his terseness, William Rodman Henry started his baseball career in 1948 with Clarksdale of the Class C Cotton States League. He also performed in the minors with Greenville, Shreveport, San Diego, Louisville, Charleston, Memphis, and Portland.
In 1952, he finally made it to "The Show" with the Boston Red Sox. After four mediocre seasons, Henry returned to the minors. The Cubs brought him back as a reliever in 1958, and he led the National League with 65 appearances in 1959. Traded to Cincinnati before the 1960 season, he responded with a career-best 17 saves.
Henry performed in the 1960 All-Star Game and, with fellow reliever Jim Brosnan, aided the Reds to their 1961 pennant. Traded to San Francisco in May 1965, he landed with Houston in 1969, posting an 0.00 ERA in three relief appearances. Henry later scouted for the Astros.
His name resurfaced in the headlines in August of 2007 when his death in Florida was reported....only it wasn't him. An imposter using Henry's identity passed away. The imposter's wife dutifully spread the information which was then picked up by the wire services. The real Bill Henry had not kept in touch with many baseball people but one reporter decided to try the last home number he had for them in Texas as an attempt to offer condolences to his widow.
When Mrs. Henry answered the phone, she was surprised at the news. "No," she said, "he's sitting right here in the kitchen. Do you want to talk to him?" That's when the story of the imposter began to unfold. The genuine Bill Henry passed away in April, 2014 at age 86. In his later years, he was honored by the Pasadena (TX) High School Sports Hall Of Fame for his athletic contributions.