The Obit For Tommy Henrich

Tommy Henrich, whose heroics with NY Yankees earned him the nickname 'Old Reliable,' dies at 96

By Marc Carig/The Star-Ledger
December 01, 2009, 3:09PM
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Tommy Henrich, whose 11-year career with the Yankees earned him the nickname "Old Reliable," died in Dayton, Ohio, early Tuesday morning. He was 96 and was believed to be the oldest living Yankee.

Henrich, an outfielder, won seven World Series championships with the Yankees from 1937-42 and 1946-50, his service to the team interrupted only by his military service in World War II.

"Tommy was a darn good ballplayer and teammate," former Yankees teammate Yogi Berra said in a statement. "He always took being a Yankee to heart. He won a lot of championships and did whatever he could to help us win. When I came up in 1947, he taught me little nuances about playing the outfield. Being around Tommy made you feel good, whether playing cards or listening to him sing with that great voice. He was a proud man, and if you knew him, he made you proud too."

In his career, Henrich hit .282 with 183 homers and 795 RBI. He also finished with 73 triples, twice leading the American League in that category.

Henrich was the first player to hit a walk-off homer to win a World Series game, homering off the Dodgers' Don Newcombe to give the Yankees a 1-0 victory in the opening game of the 1949 series.

“Tommy was a terrific player," former teammate Dr. Bobby Brown said in a statement. "What made him so special was that he always played well in big games. You get him in a close or important game and he would always show up ready to play. It seemed like he never made any mistakes in the outfield. He was a true professional and an ultimate Yankee.”

Jerry Coleman, a former teammate, said Henrich's "Old Reliable" nickname perfectly described an uncanny ability to come through in big spots.

"My first year with him was 1949, and it seemed like every home run he hit won the game," Coleman said in a statement. "His career stats might not show it, but he was a great clutch player. When he hit, it counted. He was also a fine defensive player in the outfield.”

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Virgil Trucks, 92, is now believed to be the oldest living Yankee.

Henrich's family will hold a private memorial service on Saturday. They ask that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Henrich's name to the Baseball Assistance Team, an organization devoted to helping former players in need.

Tom Henrich

News Death Notice

Published in the Dayton Daily News on 12/2/2009

HENRICH, Tom Tom Henrich, formerly of Massillon and Prescott, AZ, passed away peacefully on December 1 at the age of 96. Eileen, his beloved wife of 68 years, died in March.

He was the last of the six children of Edward and Mary Elizabeth Henrich.

Although well known for his career with the New York Yankees from 1937 to 1950, his friends will remember most his love of music and happiness with life. Baseball was a favorite of the entire Henrich family, and Tom always said he was a fortunate man to be able to make a living doing what he enjoyed.

After his playing days, he was a coach, a broadcaster, a restaurateur, and later a representative for Diebold of Canton.

Modest about his own achievements, he wrote the book Five OClock Lightning, his account of the thrill and fun of being in the Big Leagues during what many consider its best time.

As much as he delighted in baseball, his love of music defined him. There was always singing at home and wherever there was a piano and someone who knew the words. When they lived in NYC, he and Eileen frequently could be found at jazz clubs, where he would often sit in on piano. During the years they lived in Prescott, he often joined local groups at several clubs.

He is survived by his five children Patricia (Phil Usrey) of Dayton; Ann (Durward) Erwin of Salinas, CA; Tom of Mexico; Mary of Columbus, OH; and Paul of Dewey, AZ; three grandchildren; and three great grandchildren.

The family wishes to thank the staffs of Sterling House of Beaverceek and Crossroads Hospice for their affectionate care of Tom and Eileen and for their support of the family.

Arrangements in care of Newcomer Funeral Home in Beavercreek, OH.