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Blue Jays All-Star Memories: Tom Henke in 1987

Tom Henke

We had a pretty good team back in 1987. The less said about the end of the season the better, particularly since I really don’t want to relive it. Pointing out that they had been 19-5 in September, before the wheels fell off, doesn’t really help.

There were 3 Jays on the 1987 team. George Bell was voted onto the starting lineup and Tony Fernandez and Tom Henke were named to the team by John McNamara. George and Tony had very forgettable games, but Henke had a great night. We’ll save the best for last.

George Bell: George was in the middle of his MVP season. At the break he was hitting .293/.322/.609 with 29 home runs and 76 RBI. His season continued to go great, he finished at .308/.352/.605, with 47 hr and 134 RBI. George started the game, playing LF and hitting cleanup. He went 0 for 4.

Tony Fernandez: Tony was having his usual great season. At the break he was hitting .310/.380/.429, with 54 runs, 40 RBI and 23 stolen bases. The rest of the season went well for him too, at least until Bill Madlock slid through him breaking up a double play. He finished the year hitting .322/.379/.426, with 90 runs, 67 RBI and 32 steals. 1987 was the 2nd of 5 All-Star appearances. He replaced Cal Ripken at short in the top of the 5th and went 0 for 2 with a sac bunt. Who bunts in an All-Star game? Well, John McNamara. The AL bunted 3 times, in an All-Star game with a DH. Who wants to watch an All-Star bunt?

Tom Henke: Henke was having his usual great season. At the break he was 0-4, 17 saves and 2.81 ERA in 40 games. On the season he had 34 saves, a 2.49 ERA, 0-6. He pitched 94 innings in 72 games, 128 strikeouts, 2 walks. Also 10 home runs allowed. In case you think he was perfect, I’ll also note that he finished with 8 blown saves. It was Henke’s first of two All-Star appearances, but he made the most of this one.

Henke came into the game with 1 out in the 9th and Tim Raines on third base, in a 0-0 game. Tom got Juan Samuel to fly out to short right field. It must have been a really short fly not to score Raines from 3rd. Then he got Jeff Leonard to pop out to the catcher to end the inning.

In the pre-Selig days they played extra innings in All-Star games. Henke came back out for the 10th inning. He got Tim Wallach to ground out, give up a single to Keith Hernandez. Ozzie Virgil flied out and Pedro Guerrero lined out to end the inning.

Henke came back to pitch the 11th, getting Hubie Brooks to fly out, Willie McGee to ground out. Tim Raines singled, before Tom struck out Juan Samuel to end the inning.

Henke pitched 2.2 innings, giving up 2 hits and getting 1 strikeout, keeping the 0-0 tie into extra innings. His WPA was .589, the highest WPA for any Jay player in any All-Star game.

Can you imagine what would happen now if an All-Star manager used contending team’s closer for 2.2 innings? It would be all anyone talked about.

Anyway, the game went on for 2 more innings after Henke left the game. Tim Raines won the game for the NL in the 12th with a 2 run triple. Tim had a great game, going 3 for 3, with the triple, 2 RBI and a stolen base. He won the All-Star MVP award, the 3rd time an Expo picked up the award in the 80’s.