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Better Know a Dodger . . . Mark Hendrickson

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With a 5-3 loss last night to San Francisco, the Los Angeles Dodgers' lead in the National League West has narrowed to one game over the Padres. The next two games at Dodger Stadium will be key, as a No Cal sweep over So Cal would move the Giants into a virtual tie with the Dodgers in the NL West. One player who will have absolutely no impact in either of the remaining games against the Giants is pitcher Mark Hendrickson (he's scheduled to start Saturday against the Pads). And given his lack of immediate importance, it's no coincidence that Mark is the subject in Part 5 of our 436 Part Series, Better Know a Dodger.

Mark Allen Hendrickson was born June 23, 1974 in Mount Vernon, Washington. He attended Mt Vernon High (The Fightin' Bulldogs!) and then Washington State University (The Fightin' Cougars!!) where he excelled in both baseball and basketball. His father Tom, a Washington State patrolman, was killed by a hit-and-run driver when Mark was only 5 months old. Mark's grandfather Clair helped his mother Barbara raise the boy from an early age.

One of the more unique aspects of Mark Hendrickson's path to the major leagues is that it included a stop in the NBA. For four seasons (1996-2000), Mark patrolled the paint as a forward for the 76ers, Kings, Nets, and Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association. He was not particularly good, averaging 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game for his NBA career.

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Per basketballreference.com, the NBA player with a career most similar to Mark's was journeyman early '90s shooting guard Brian Oliver. Per baseballreference.com, the Major League Baseball player with a career most similar to Mark's was mid '80s journeyman pitcher Chris Codoroli. And per IMDB.com, the sitcom star with a career most similar to Mark's was early '80s journeyman bailiff Bull Shannon from Night Court.

OK, that's not entirely true. But much like Bull Shannon, Hendrickson is tall. 6'9" in his stocking feet, which means there are only 5 major leaguers in history that have been taller (Chris Codoroli is not one of them).

There are 53 Mark Hendrickson items available for purchase on the ebays. None have to do with his basketball career. The most expensive is a baseball Mark has autographed "in the sweet spot!" ($22.99! Buy it Now!!).

Mark has been affectionally dubbed "Lurch" by some of his fans. He carries 230 pounds on his 6'9" frame, and both throws and bats left-handed. He is slated to make over $2.9 million dollars in 2007 for the Dodgers. Oh, and ladies, if you're interested in a 6-foot-9, three-million dollar man with well-groomed facial hair, Mark Hendrickson is single.

More on Mark's baseball (and basketball!) career after the jump.