Ronald Baxter Henry was born in Chester, Pennsylvania on August 7, 1936 and passed away on May 14, 2016 in Denver, Colorado at the age of 79 from cardiovascular disease and end stage renal disease. Ron Henry played professional baseball for 15 seasons between 1954 and 1968 but his only time in the big leagues was in 1961 and 1964 when he served as the teams third catcher.
In 1954 Henry was acquired by the Milwaukee Braves from the Boise Pilots in the Pioneer League in some fashion and played in their minor league system through the 1960 season but after that season ended he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1960 Rule 5 draft which required him to spend the 1961 season with the Twins or to be returned to Milwaukee. In 1961 Henry served as the teams third catcher behind Earl Battey and Hal Naragon and made his big league debut at the age of 24 on April 15 at Memorial Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles as a pinch-hitter for Ted Sadowski in the fifth inning with the Twins trailing 6-0. Henry faced Oriole starter Steve Barber and hit into a 1-6-3 double play. Henry only appeared in 20 games that season getting just 31 plate appearances and had 4 hits and 3 RBI. Henry spent the next two seasons learning his trade in the minors before he got another shot with the Twins in 1964 and again he was the third catcher behind Battey and Jerry Zimmerman. In 1964 Henry, who according to the 1964 Twins media guide was known as “Scratch” appeared in 22 games and in those 43 plate appearances he had a double, triple and two home runs.
Although his short stints in the majors did not show it, Henry was a very good hitter in the minor leagues where he played in 1,119 games and hit .260 with 126 home runs and 41 triples. Behind the plate Henry was a good catcher and one of the reasons the Twins selected him in the Rule 5 draft was his strong throwing arm. Henry played in the Twins minor league system until he was sent to the Houston Astro’s in mid 1967 in an unknown transaction. Henry played in the Astro’s system until he walked away from baseball after the 1968 season at the age of 31.
After his baseball career ended, which had been interspersed by a short stint in the U. S. Army, Ron settled in Denver, Colorado where he became a well-known and respected local singer and actor. Ron packed Denver nightclubs for 35 years. During his career he appeared in many of Denver’s hot spots. His acting career encompassed various venues, including Armando’s, Rodney’s and a turn at the Country Dinner Playhouse in “Damn Yankees”.
During his life journey, Ron was married to Diane Chalmus, of Sicklerville, NJ; Sarah Saunders of Denver, CO and Leslie Henry , Raleigh, NC. After moving to Raleigh, he received a heart transplant at Duke University Hospital more than 10 years ago. Ron returned to his beloved Denver in 2008 where he lived for the remaining years of his life among family and close friends.
Ron had a larger than life personality that attracted numerous friends and fans. He had a gift for gab that included storytelling, putting smiles on faces and making people laugh. He was a fan of TV and talk radio and developed strong opinions on many subjects which he would debate and defend until the end.
Thank you for the memories Ron Henry and rest in peace.