Roch Around the Clock

Roch Around the Clock

December 23, 2005|By ROCH KUBATKO

When the Orioles redesigned their clubhouse before last season and moved the coaches into their own office, secluded from the players, one man chose to stay at his old locker.

One man preferred to slip into his uniform with everyone else, interact with the younger crowd that made up part of his extended family, and remain readily available to anyone who needed his attention or sought counsel. He was always ready to give them a little love, even the tough kind.

The team charter has a section at the front reserved for the manager and coaches. One man would leave his seat empty and join the players at the back of the plane.

Elrod Hendricks was close friends with the coaches, especially Ray Miller, but it always seemed like he was most happy when surrounded by the guys on the 25-man roster. He was a father figure to many, and the thought of him dying is more than I can comprehend at this moment.

Something just isn't right. He was supposed to outlast us all. Forget his past health issues, his age. Elrod was such a fixture at the ballpark and in the community, I just figured he'd be around forever, even after the club relieved him of his coaching duties. ...

Nothing else really matters today with the Orioles, does it? The need for pitching help? The inability to make a significant trade? Free agents signing elsewhere? Perspective sometimes comes to us in tragic ways.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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