Pasadena Loses A Sports Legend; Bill Henry Dead at 86

Pasadena Loses A Sports Legend; Bill Henry Dead at 86
Posted on 04/16/2014
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Bill Henry (right) receives his Pasadena ISD Athletics Hall of Fame portrait from Hall of Fame President Terry Brotherton during induction ceremonies in 2012.
sideBill Henry, who starred on Pasadena High’s state championship basketball team in 1946 before embarking on a 16-year career as a major-league pitcher, passed away last Friday (April 11) in Round Rock.

Henry, 86, pitched for six big-league teams, most notably the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds. While with the Reds, he pitched in the 1960 All-Game and in the 1961 World Series.

Two years ago, he was among the first group of former Pasadena ISD athletes and coaches to be inducted into the district’s new Athletics Hall of Fame.

Henry, who lived in Deer Park, had planned to attend the Hall of Fame’s third annual induction banquet on Saturday and the grand opening of the Hall of Fame Museum held in conjunction with the banquet. He suffered a heart episode last week and died shortly after being transported to a medical facility in Round Rock.

A moment of silence was held at the banquet in Henry’s honor.

As a Pasadena High senior in 1946, Henry earned basketball all-state honors while helping lead the Eagles to the state championship – the only state title ever won by a Pasadena ISD squad in basketball, football or baseball.

After high school, he turned his attention to baseball, a sport not offered in most Texas high schools at the time. He earned a spot on the University of Houston’s first baseball team and became the first UH baseball product ever to reach the major leagues.

A tall left-hander, Henry broke in with the Boston Red Sox and eventually developed into a relief specialist. With the Cubs in 1959, he enjoyed one of the best seasons of any reliever in the 1950s. He led the National League with 65 appearances, posted a 9-8 record with 12 saves and a dazzling 2.63 ERA.

Traded to the Reds that winter, Henry was named to the National League All-Star team in 1960. In the 1961 World Series, he made two relief appearances for the Reds against the New York Yankees, striking out baseball’s new home-run record- holder, Roger Maris, in one of them. The Reds lost the Series in five games.

For his career, Henry appeared in 527 games, compiled 90 saves and posted an ERA of 3.26.

He also pitched for the San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros. He appeared in three games for the Astros, all in 1969, before deciding to retire.

Henry is survived by his wife of 69 years, Betty Lou Sabo-Henry; his four sons: Charlie, Jack, Billy and Mark; his grandchildren: Brian, Matt, Sarah and Gus; and a brother, Jack.

Henry was born Oct. 15, 1927, in Alice. After his retirement from baseball, he worked for the Houston Boatmen, ILA Local #1438.

A public viewing is scheduled for Thursday, April 17, from 5-8 p.m. at the Pasadena Funeral Home, 2203 Pasadena Blvd. A funeral service is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m. at the Pasadena Funeral Chapel.

A graveside service and internment will follow at South Park Cemetery, 1310 N. Main, in Pearland.