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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.

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After four years at WSU, Hendrickson was selected in the second round of the 1996 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. He spent one year in Philly, one in Sacramento, one-and-a-half in New Jersey, and closed out the 1999-2000 season with Cleveland. Some of Mark's teammates during his basketball career included Allen Iverson, Jerry Stackhouse, Mitch Richmond, Stephon Marbury, Sam Cassell, and Shawn Kemp. He played with an ex-Globetrotter (Benoit Benjamin), a man charged & acquitted of killing a limo driver (Jayson Williams), and a man who co-starred with Billy Crystal in a terrible movie (Gheorghe Muresan).

That run was enough to ruin anyone's NBA dreams, and Major League Baseball was still interested in Mark. In fact Hendrickson was drafted each year from 1992 through 1997, and finally said 'yes' (mental note, ladies, persistence pays off with Mark Hendrickson) to Toronto in 1997. Mark spent the first four years of his professional baseball career slowly progressing through the Blue Jays' farm system. He finally made the Show in 2002, and authored his first major league start on September 7 at Fenway Park (a no decision). Hendrickson spent one more year with the Blue Jays, then was traded to Tampa Bay after the 2003 season. To this day, Mark Hendrickson is the only Blue Jay pitcher in franchise history to hit a home run.

After two-and-a-half uneventful seasons in Tampa Bay, Hendrickson was dealt to the Dodgers midway through 2006 along with Toby Hall in an uneventful trade for Dioner Navarro and Jae Seo. Hendrickson (2-7, 4.68) and Hall (0 HR, 8 RBI in 57 AB) both contributed negligibly to the Dodgers playoff run in 2006, but managed to pull down a combined $5 million in the process (nice one, Ned Colletti!!)

Hendrickson is essentially the 'emergency' starter for the Dodgers this year. Given the propensity to injury of so many of the Dodger starting pitchers (Schmidt, Wolf, Penny), Hendrickson should see plenty of time in the rotation this year. Thus far in 2007, he's done fairly well, posting a 1.62 ERA and 13 K's in only 16 innings.

Mark is planning to finish out July with the Dodgers. He then plans to catch on in training camp as a backup quarterback with the Green Bay Packers, thus becoming the only man besides Bull Shannon to play in all three major American sports leagues.

AP Photo by Jack Dempsey

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Thanks to baseballreference.com, thebaseballcube.com, dodgers.com, and basketballreference.com for the handy information. And thanks to Larry Henry's 2003 article in the Snohomish County Herald for the background info on Mr. Hendrickson. Viva Colbert.