Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 89

Walter "Butch" Henline was a catcher with the Phillies from 1921- 1926. Henline, a veteran of the first World War, was a solid hitting backstop throughout his professional career.

After breaking into the Major Leagues and playing just one game with the New York Giants in 1921, he was traded, along with Curt Walker and cash for outfielder Irish Meusel. After debuting with the Phillies and posting a .306 batting average in 33 games with the club that year, Henline won the starting catcher's job.

The Indiana native, Henline, had his best year with the Phillies in his first full season in the Majors. In 1922, Henline batted .316, slammed 14 homeruns and knocked in 64 runs to go along with his .859 OPS in 125 games. The rookie also led all National League catchers with a .983 fielding percentage.

The following season, the right-handed hitting Henline's offensive production held steady. He served up a boost in batting average, hitting a career high .324, which was second best among National League catchers in 1923.

However, the arrival of a rookie, future all-star catcher and native Philadelphian Jimmie Wilson, would soon cut into Henline's playing time and he did not play in more than 100 games in a season after 1925.

In 576 career games with the Phillies, Henline, who occasionally played first base and outfield, was a .304 hitter, with 36 homeruns, 231 RBI and 226 runs scored.

Prior to the 1927 season, the Phillies saw fit to deal Henline and sent him away as part of a three-team deal with the Brooklyn Robins and the New York Giants. Henline went to Brooklyn, while the Phils acquired pitcher Jake Scott and second baseman Fresco Johnson. With Brooklyn, Henline was a second string catcher.

Henline closed out his big league playing career as a member of the Chicago White Sox, where he played sparingly for two season.

After his playing days were through, Henline went on to become a minor league and Major League umpire. He was an active official for the 1947 MLB All-star Game. Henline also went on to become the supervisor of umpires in the now defunct Florida International League from 1949 to 1954.

Henline passed away at the age of 62 in 1957.

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