On this day 89 years ago promising Cardinals outfielder Austin McHenry passed away due to a brain tumor.
McHenry, 27, made his major league debut with the Redbirds in 1918 and hit .261 in 80 games. A career .302 hitter, he enjoyed his best season in 1921 when he batted .350 with 17 homers and 102 RBI.
In July 1922 McHenry was batting .302 when he began to suffer from blurred vision and feared that he was going blind. But the truth turned out to be much worse. McHenry Played his last game on July 31 of that year and was dead less than four months later.
The years have made the memories of his short career fade. But at the time of his death McHenry, who played mostly left field, was considered to be one of the best all-around corner outfielders in the history of the game.
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McHenry started his minor league career at Portsmouth, Ohio in 1919 where the local paper, The Portsmouth Times, wrote about him:
“It seemed that no one could hit it over his head and he was a genius on coming in for short line-drives over the infield. He had the uncanny intuition of playing for this and that batter and it was not long until Manager Gableman made him a regular. From that day on McHenry by his consistent playing began to make baseball history for himself.”
The Portsmouth Times continued:
“McHenry) was not on speaking terms with the finer points of the national game. But what he lacked in knowledge he made up for with hustle, eagerness, enthusiasm, and a determination to succeed. Soon he was drawing comparisons to Ed Delahanty and Ty Cobb and was said to have 'an arm of steel' and he could flat out hit."