Home Page

Baseball Analysis Home  ONEMOREINNING


                                                                 Times Is Bad Now…But

Way back then, I didn’t think of no future. All you did was go out on the field and hit that ball and watch it sail high into the sky and my gosh that was really beautiful. We all played hard and we played hurt and we drank a lot too. There was always booze around. Sometimes the reporters, god bless them, would stake us to the drinks, but we gave as much as we got. Maybe even better. The reporter’s was good guy’s. You know you hear a lot about them doin’ this and doin’ that but I’ll tell you…and I’m talking from experience, they could keep secrets when they had too and it meant your career, and I don’t mean just with women.

The game’s was fun then. We didn’t walk around with no high hat, thinkin’ we was better than everyone else. We never got paid nothin’, the owner’s was real son’s of bitches, every single god damned one of ‘em and it was like pullin’ teeth from their mouth to get an extra buck. Son’s of bitches they was! I say to the guy, “I been playin’ hurt all year long, I’m the only good catcher you got on the team, my finger’s like broken twigs, maybe next year I can get some more money considering I had a good year batting .276 which is damned good for a catcher.” He offers me 300 more dollars. I tell him to go shove it and when I go back and tells him I thought it over and I would accept it he tells me, hell no, forget it, and I end up playin, for the same as the year before.

We had no protection then. No big million dollar contracts, no pension plans, no medical insurance, just nothin’ but the love of the game. And we all loved it. We couldn’t get enough of it that’s for sure! I’d come to Forbes Field (the Pirates, they was my first team) early in the morning and my goodness the grass smelled so good and then the fan’s would start coming in and they’d give me the raspberries. I didn’t mind it none. Catcher’s is always gettin’ that stuff. “Hey ugly, where’d you get that face? You look like a pickle. “ Hey meathead, yeah you. You struck out with a man on third in yesterday’s ballgame, potato face. Aaah, go back to the Minors!” I knew they didn’t mean no harm. I knew most of ‘em is good Joe’s. Like the first time Rose was in the hospital with Asthma. You shoulda seen that room. Flowers and get well cards. And then when I was traded to the Reds and came back to Forbes field for the first time. They gave me a standing ovation. I’ll never forget that, never.

I wasn’t much of a player. Nobody could say I didn’t try my best though. I was always there practicing and hustling because I knew other guys was better. Catchin’ aint easy and your knees and fingers get banged up. With me it was my back. Nobody then knew anything about backs in those days. Now they call what I got a slipped disc. I coulda had a longer career without that, but that’s OK.

What’s nice is my friend Shanty Hoak (you remember he played second base for Cincy for awhile) calls me last year and tells me we’re in the Baseball Encyclopedia. I say what’s that, and he says everybody that plays in the bigs is in the Encyclopedia. I go down to the bookstore and there’s this big book for about sixty dollars. I couldn’t afford that, but I thought I’d look for my name and that would be nice to see me in there, in a book like that. Well, I look under “H” and I can’t find my name listed. God they had names there I hadn’t thought of in years. Guys who played less than me (most of them is gone now, god rest their souls) but I wasn’t in there. I get back home and call Shanty and he tells me what I did wrong. It was a real whopper! I looked in the pitcher’s section, That’s why I couldn’t find no Henry Hinckey. Well I’m not feeling so good these days, so’s it took me awhile to get down there again. And there I was. Henry Hinckey, seven years, .253 BA, 18 HRs, 296 RBIs, and a lot of other stuff I didn’t understand. It was so nice seein’ that. It made me feel special. I wish I could of gotten that book. I looked for other guys I played with and they was all there too.

You’ll havta forgive my writin’ being so shaky. All those foul balls off my fingers and there’s my back bothering me all the time now, so I have trouble writing. It’s funny, I get up in the morning and my back hurts me a lot but later on it stops hurting but it’s hard for me to straighten out. It looks like I’m always crouching, getting ready to catch. Rose used to massage me and rub me in but now I try to do it myself.

Thank’s for your letter, I don’t get many now. Not that I ever got a lot of them. It’s a little hard for me to write back, because stamps isn’t so cheap anymore. I kind of have to watch my self now. Those bills is tough, even with medicare and social security and those pescriptions. Boy those medicines is a lot of money. That was the worst part after my career was over, keepin’ up with the bills, tryin’ to make ends meet. Never could save no money as a player, didn’t get no money to save. Never could meet expenses year after year and Rose was always in and out of hospitals. There was nothing left to put away. Baseball was all I knew. I tried managing in the Minors but that didn’t pay much and it kept me away from Rose and the boys, so I stopped and got work in a grocery store. I loved the game but maybe I shoulda thought what it would be like later on.

The money that player’s is gettin’ now is crazy. I guess they won’t have to worry about things after their career is over. I know some guys I played with that ended up in a bad way, but I never asked for nothing. Maybe someday we’ll get some money from the Players Pension Fund. Right now they tell us we’re not eligible for any of this. I don’t know if that’s right. We put in our turn in baseball. Don’t that count for anything? Mickey Rourke’s wife called up the people at B.A.T. and told them they couldn’t pay their bills and these people helped them out. I think they’re called the baseball assistance team and guys like Ralph Branca and Joe Garagiola are involved in it. Mickey never knew where the money came from. Mickey would never ask for help for himself, he figures you should work out problems on your own. Me too. I don’t want nobody giving me charity.

When Rose died I wasn’t ready for it. Sure I knew she had these Asthma attacks but suddenly there she was trying to breath and I was holding her trying to help and calm her down and her arms was stiff at her side and I kept saying, Rosie, Rosie, Rosie, and then she was gone. She was in my arms, her head hanging limply at her side and she was gone. And I was too.

I think of her now. How she was when I first met her, all soft, cream colored and so thin…and so smart. My gosh, what she saw in me I don’t know. She loved baseball…maybe that was it. She thought I was a special player  because I always gave everything in me to playing the game. And she knew her baseball. I got a kick seein’ her telling the new wives what a hit and run was  and explaining ERAs and why you shouldn’t slide into a base head first if you wanted to come out of it alive. She was special. Nobody was like her. All those girls you met on the road, they was nice and it was hard to stay away from that, but nobody was like Rose and that made it easy.

So many of my friends is gone now. I know it’s coming for me now too and pretty soon. I been thinking of death all the time now. It scares me. But you know what…death is part of life… I guess that’s a funny way of looking at it, and it catches up to you and that’s it.

I sit under the boardwalk now watching the water and the boats go by. Sometimes I feed the seagulls. There’s this one bird who comes up to me and eats from my hand. He has a brown spot on his side and before he eats he takes two steps back, always only two steps, and then he quickly pecks away at the bread. None of the other birds interrupt him. I guess he’s the leader. There’s always the smell of something burning and rotted timber. I guess that comes from the factories across the way.

Well Herb, I sure do thank you for asking for my autograph. It’s nice to be remembered. I’m 86 now and time is goin’ but I remember my playing days as if they was yesterday. They was great days. I saw and played with the best. The Rajah (I don’t guess you saw Hornsby play, he was really somethin’) and KiKi Cyler, and Chick Hafey, and that crazy guy Hack Wilson, and the great Carl Hubbell (I couldn’t hit him for nothin’), and Ethan Allen, and my good friend Wally Berger, and the Waner boys (I roomed with Paul), and “Old Hoss” Stephenson (could- n’t field a lick, but what a hitter), and maybe the best of them all, Bill Terry. They was the best and I played with them. I been outta baseball for a long time, but it don’t matter. Baseball even now is my life. Even now.

                                                     Sincerely Henry “Grunt” Hinckey









10923   1.845.362.7242




HomeGuru's Baseball Book StoreLink to UsBraintrust & Mailing ListsEmail the GuruContact InfoBaseball Analysis Home