Dawgs guest speaker named to Team Canada roster
Baseball: Milwaukee Brewer Jim Henderson to pitch in World Baseball Classic
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 06:00 am
The guest speaker at the Okotoks Dawgs banquet fulfilled his dream last spring when he was called up to the Milwaukee Brewers. However, Jim Henderson has also fulfilled option B at the top of his dream list.
Henderson, a graduate of the Dawgs Academy was named to Team Canada’s pitching staff for the upcoming World Baseball Classic (WBC).
“I always wanted to play in the WBC,” Henderson said on Monday, shortly after arriving back to Calgary from the Milwaukee Brewers Fanfest.
“I thought if I didn’t make the big leagues, the WBC would be my chance to face big league hitters and play in big league parks.
“To have the chance to play in the big leagues and the WBC is just awesome.”
Henderson is the guest speaker at the banquet Feb. 2 at the Foothills Centennial Centre. The six-foot-five right-hander toiled in the minor leagues for 10 years before getting the call to join the Brewers from the Triple A Nashville Sounds last summer.
Spend a decade riding buses in the minors before flying first class in the major leagues, you wind up with a lifetime of stories, not just the 20 minutes or so Henderson will have at the banquet.
“I will be talking about the ups-and-downs I had to go through and the perseverance to get to the big leagues,” Henderson said with a laugh.
“I’ll also make fun at John a little bit (Dawgs executive director
Henderson will be leaving for Milwaukee the day after the banquet to prepare for the Brewers’ spring camp.
After a short stint with the Brew Crew, he’ll be joining Team Canada for the Classic.
The WBC is kind of a World Cup of Baseball featuring the best players in the world representing their respective countries. The past two WBCs, held in 2006 and 2009, were won by Japan.
Some of the players on the Canadian’s roster will include pitchers Jesse Crain of the Chicago White Sox, Chris Leroux of the Pittsburgh Pirates and John Axford, who like Henderson, comes out of the pen for the Brewers.
Some of the hitters include new Pirate Russell Martin, the Minnesota Twins’ Justin Morneau, the Toronto Blue Jays’ Brett Lawrie and possibly the Cincinnati Joey Votto.
Canada is ranked sixth in the WBC, behind perennial powers like Japan, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and the United States. Team Canada opens the tournament on March 8 in Phoenix.
Having “CANADA” across his chest is nothing new for the hard-throwing right-hander. Henderson last played for Team Canada at the 2011 Pan Am Games in Mexico when they stunned the Americans in the final to win the gold medal. Okotoks resident Emerson Frostad was also a member of that team. As was former Okotoks Dawgs pitcher Mark Hardy.
However, unlike the Pan Am Games, this time Henderson will be pitching against big league hitters — something he now has experience doing.
“One of the most exciting things is Team Canada will play an exhibition game against the Brewers,” Henderson said. “That will be kind of fun to face those guys.”
Henderson was called up on July 25 from the Nashville Sounds and pitched the next day for the Brewers against the Washington Nationals. He had a 1-2-3 inning.
He went on to pitch 30.2 innings in 36 games. He had a 1-3 record but most importantly for a set-up man had three saves and 15 holds. His ERA was 3.52 striking out 45 batters.
Henderson, a graduate of the then Calgary Dawgs, credits the organization with getting him ready for the big leagues. He came back to Okotoks to train at the Dawgs’ Duvernay Field House and to help coach their young players.
In fact, he has thrown to a few catchers to get ready for the big leagues. They were able to handle his approximately 92 miles per hour pitches. Henderson will be up to 98 miles per hour when the major league season starts in April.
Henderson won’t be the only Dawg on Team Canada for the WBC. Mark Hardy, the 2008 Dawgs pitcher of the Year, was also selected for the team.
Hardy posted a 2.65 ERA with the San Antonio Missions last summer, a Double A team in the San Diego Padres’ organization. He had 17 strikeouts in 17 innings.
Tickets to the Dawgs banquet on Feb. 2 are available by calling 403-262-DAWG (3294). For more information go to www.dawgsbaseball.ca