Did a line drive lead to Austin McHenry’s Death?

Austin McHenry by J. Scott Pedley

Reader John Coulson was glad to see this painting of St. Louis Cardinal Austin McHenry. McHenry had a very short, if memorable, career that was cut short by a tragic brain tumor.

To back up a bit, Austin McHenry was a son of Ohio, born in September of 1895. His talent was evident as a youngster and he began playing professionally for the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association in 1916. The following spring he was invited to training with St. Louis but a ball off the bat of Sherry Magee broke his nose and sent him to the hospital. It took a month before he was ready to play again. Having lost his opportunity to impress, he was sent back to Milwaukee for the rest of the season.

Austin made the Cardinal team the following year and by 1921 had blossomed into one of the biggest stars in all of baseball. That season he appeared in 152 games, batting .350 with 102 runs batted in. It looked as if his future was assured. The following season, however, McHenry began to have double vision and would often feel unsteady on his feet. Fly balls became a challenge and his batting suffered. In June he was sent home to undergo tests. A brain tumor was discovered and operated on but the procedure was not successful. He died in November of 1922.

Since the beginnings of his serious troubles there has been speculation that the hard foul off the bat of Sherry Magee was responsible for the tumor.

2 thoughts

  1. Im just now doing research on this young man. It states that he died in blue creek, ohio, however, I have found several newspapers that report that he died in Mt. Orab, Ohio. Can anyone confirm either place?


  2. So glad you posted this story. What a tragedy. I feel the Cardinals would have won a National League title before 1926 if McHenry had lived. With Hornsby, McHenry and Bottomley in the middle of the Redbirds’ batting order they would have challenged the Giants for league supremacy. Thanks! Most people do not know of him.


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