He has gotten an education, nonetheless. For three years now he has carried more A's than any honor student. When Hendu missed 27 games with torn cartilage in his right knee last August, both Stewart and third baseman Carney Lansford called the loss Oakland's most significant of the past three years—this on a team that had been without Canseco, Rickey Henderson, Eckersley, McGwire and most everyone else at one time or another during that span.
That is because Hendu's time is what hack announcers call Crunch Time, but what Hendu himself calls Game Time. "I've learned life from football," he says. "Game time? I worked on that in football practice. I learned that in high school. The Fourth Quarter, we called it. When we were dead tired and could barely move, that was when we would go practice the Fourth Quarter. That's one of those things you learn and never lose."
If Williams thought a smile meant that Henderson didn't care—well, it has come to mean quite the opposite to Henderson's opponents. "I have never seen him get mad," says Langston. "I have never even seen him lose his composure."
"I would like to get that straight," says Henderson. "Me having fun takes nothing away from me doing my job. In fact, I'm probably the most concentrated guy out there."
Which is why even the game's most intense, granite-mugged performer speaks honorifically of Hendu. "The Field General!" Stewart says upon learning, to his delight, that Hendu will be getting some national pub. "It's tough to get recognition on this team, because everybody wants to focus on the big sluggers, Canseco and McGwire. But then Dave sort of comes out in the postseason, and that's when people have to take notice."
But he has come out in April this year, and seeing his shadow pursued by the shadows of several minicams, he has occasionally felt inclined to crawl back in. He only likes "50 billion people" watching him when he's on the field. Outside the park, he guards his privacy, and in the off-season he retreats to Bellevue to be with his wife, Loni, and their two young sons.
"I wouldn't want to be Canseco," Henderson says. "His face is everywhere. I mean, at least I can still go to McDonald's with my kid and not be recognized." Then he smiles that smile that covers more ground than any centerfielder ever could. "I can still have a Happy Meal," Hendu says. "I like that."