Auburn Doubledays

The Terminator's nephew

2012-07-01T03:00:00Z 2016-01-12T10:09:19Z The Terminator's nephewBen Meyers The Citizen Auburn Citizen
July 01, 2012 3:00 am  • 

Travis Henke’s uncle is "The Terminator."

Oh a, Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101 Version 2.4, Skynet design, cybernetic organism powered by a neural net learning CPU processor?

Well, no. That isn’t Tom Henke.

Tom Henke was a 14-year major league closer for the Blue Jays, Rangers and Cardinals with 311 career saves, but he was dubbed “The Terminator.”

Travis Henke, a relief pitcher with the Auburn Doubledays, talks to his uncle a lot as the younger Henke follows, remarkably close to the elder’s footsteps.

“We call each other about once a week. If not, more,” Travis Henke said. “He gives me little tips here and there about what to expect, what I am going through, he always has an answer for something.”

So, Travis Henke’s uncle was a robot assassin covered by organic human flesh so it could travel back through time in an attempt to terminate Sarah Connor in 1984 and save John Connor in 1995 and 2003?

Not at all.

Tom Henke terminated more than 22 games per season from 1982 to 1995 for Toronto, Texas and St. Louis. He saved 34 games in 1987 and 40 in 1993. He picked up the sci-fi nickname in 1985 for his physically imposing size, at 6-5, and his ability to end games with a hard fastball and forkball. Tom Henke ended 9.8 at-bats via strikeouts per nine innings in his career. He was the closer for the 1992 World Champion Blue Jays and retired in 1995.

Travis Henke, born in 1988, saw his uncle pitch in the big leagues near the end of his career.

“I was too young to remember exactly what it was,” Travis Henke said. “I do remember going to ball games and seeing him pitching.”

Travis Henke, who stands 6-5 himself, is in his second summer with the Auburn Doubledays. Last year, he was 4-2 with a 5.40 ERA over 16 appearances with one save. For most players, one time around the New York-Penn League is enough. The second time around started well for Travis Henke with a win in the 8-7 win over Batavia as he worked 2.1 innings of one-hit relief.

He came back down giving up four runs and getting no outs in his second outing. Then he was back up with three ground outs in a non-save situation against Jamestown.

A second year can be a trial in perseverance.

Just like it was for Tom Henke.

After playing in Short Season Single-A with Ashville of the South Atlantic League in 1980, Tom Henke had a second season with the Tourists, going 8-6 record with 3 saves and 2.93 ERA in 92 innings, in 1981. He moved on from there to terminate a lot of baseball games and at-bats.

Same path, same position, for same sized guys with the same last name.

“He is a tremendous competitor first and foremost. With his background here then he is going to help us in some critical parts of ballgames,” said Washington Nationals director of player development Doug Harris about Travis Henke. “He has been around the game for a long time. He has a good fastball and the key for him is managing the strike zone.”

“Travis is a true professional. He is a guy that you want to have on your team every year regardless of the results,” Manager Gary Cathcart said. “He is a quality teammate; a quality person. As far as the baseball part with his uncle, I am sure he has leaned on him and why wouldn’t you? You have a Hall of Fame closer there.”

So Travis Henke’s uncle is the cyborg, portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, known for the lines: “I’ll be back,” “Come with me if you want to live,” and “Hasta la vista, Baby?”

No, that isn’t his uncle.

Tom Henke is known for his wide rimmed glasses that made him look more math professor then All-Star closer.

“Oh yeah,” Travis Henke said about if he had ever heard about his uncle’s specs. “I have had people tell me to put on some fake ones and see what happens. It is great that people know him for that, but also for his pitching.”

They also know him for his nickname.

Sports writer Ben Meyers can be reached at 282-2257 or at ben.meyers@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenMeyers.

Copyright 2016 Auburn Citizen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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