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Ex-NBAer and former MLB player who is now a grandfather has tryout with Orioles

Orioles Spring Baseball

In a quintessentially inspirational example of an athlete refusing to give up on his dreams, Mark Hendrickson is attending a Baltimore Orioles minicamp this week in the hopes of resuming his Major League Baseball pitching career.

Hendrickson, 40, may be getting up there in years — as evidenced by the fact that he became a grandfather last fall — but after the left-hander put up some pretty decent numbers in the Independent Atlantic League with the York Revolution last year (1.54 ERA in 55 appearances), he wants to give it yet another go.

“I’m a grandfather, for goodness’ sake, and that was two months ago,” Hendrickson said, according to School of Roch, via the New York Post. “Now there’s extra motivation. How many active grandfathers have been in the big leagues? Well, that right there is motivation in itself.”

Most folks, when happening upon Hendrickson, take note that he is one tall drink of water. He stands at 6-foot-9, which partly explains how he spent several years playing the journeyman role in the NBA.

Hendrickson was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the 1996 NBA Draft and later was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the MLB Draft the following year.

He opted to pursue his NBA dreams first instead of continuing his baseball career, playing in 114 games over a period of several seasons where he played for the 76ers, Kings, Nets and Cavaliers.

After he was unable to find consistent work in the NBA, Hendrickson opted to return to baseball, making his major league debut for the Blue Jays in August of 2002. After a few seasons with the Blue Jays, he bounced around the big leagues, playing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins and finally, parts of three seasons with the Baltimore Orioles.

His time in the big leagues with Baltimore ended in 2011, when he appeared in only eight games.

And now, Hendrickson is back on the hunt. He requested a tryout with the Orioles in a letter written to Buck Showalter. The Orioles skipper, who previously recommended that Hendrickson alter his arm slot and go to pitching sidearm, accommodated the 40-year-old’s request. It is his second tryout in three years with the Orioles.

“This is me taking my career by the horns, so to speak, and doing what I need to do,” Hendrickson said. “Realistically, the biggest hurdle for me is getting past the age factor and getting people who are front office people to not look at age and say, ‘Well, forget him.’ It’s about relationships that I have, reaching out to Buck.

“He’s a straight shooter. He’s not doing a charity case. If he doesn’t think I can help, then I’m not going to be here.”

Hendrickson’s reasons for attempting to defy the odds and make a comeback are simple: He misses the game.

“I miss it,” he said. “This is a challenge, what I’m doing. When Buck mentioned to me about dropping down, my whole intent of dropping down was to get to the big leagues. That’s the whole reason I did it and that’s why I’m still playing. That’s the challenge that I have at 40.”

Irrespective of how this most recent tryout goes, it’s entirely possible this isn’t the last we hear of Hendrickson and his big league dreams. There’s always next year.

(photo credit: Baltimore Orioles)