High School/Youth Player
By Josh Boyd
To say Drew Henson did it all in high school would be an understatement. In addition to his prodigious powerHenson hit a national record 70 home runshe drove in more runs (290) and scored more runs (259) than any high school player in history.
Henson singlehandedly carried Brighton High to the Michigan 1-A semifinals by hitting .608-22-83 as a senior shortstop in 1998. The All-America righthander carved up the competition on the mound, too, going 14-1, 0.86 with 174 strikeouts in 82 innings.
Henson also put his powerful arm to work on the football field, amassing 5,662 yards and 52 touchdown passes to go along with several state records.
Michigans Golden Boy wasnt finished there. He averaged 45 yards a punt, was all-state in basketball, scored a 1360 on his SAT and was Brightons co-valedictorian.
Hensons stellar prep career began when he homered on the first pitch he saw as a freshman. In his second game, he outdid himself by crushing two grand slams. He went on to establish another national record with 10 grand slams. After all, with the bases loaded, opponents were forced to pitch to him.
He was a man among boys, instilling fear in his opponents. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder drew 129 walks in four years and was once intentionally walked seven consecutive times in a doubleheader before hitting a homer in his eighth at-bat. Henson was walked intentionally again in his next trip to the plate. Adding another weapon to his arsenal, Henson made teams pay for walking him by stealing 43 bases in 44 attempts.
All told in his high school careeer, Henson batted .527 and compiled a 40-7, 1.67 record on the mound. He awed scouts with his tape-measure home runs and evoked memories of the power of Mike Piazza.
With a scholarship to play quarterback at Michigan in his back pocket, Henson was selected in the third round of the 1998 draft by the Yankees. He was a top 10 pick based on talent, and the Yankees may have been the only organization that could afford his services.
They agreed on a $2 million bonus, but Henson didnt surrender his dream of leading the Wolverines on Saturdays in the fall. Then he was sent to the Reds in a surprising trade for veteran lefthander Denny Neagle in 2000.
The Yankees reacquired Henson from the Reds after he hinted at retiring from baseball. It wasnt until spring 2001and another $17 millionthat Henson finally walked away from a potential NFL career to concentrate on reaching his potential as the Yankees third baseman of the future.
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