Amnesty by Aravind Adiga

and

Edie Richter Is Not Alone by Rebecca Handler

Amnesty is a line drive in the gap where the batter hustles down the line and around first trying to decide the entire time whether to risk going for two or not, and then right when he thinks he’ll have to settle for a single, the RF bobbles the ball just enough for the runner to push it and end up just beating the throw for a sliding double.

Edie Richter Is Not Alone is more like a pop up down the right field line where the batter doesn’t even leave the box for several beats before realizing that the ball is going to drop just inside the line and just out of everybody’s reach for a single.

This wasn’t the most amazing bookmark choice. Basically, Amnesty is set in Australia, so I looked for an Australian-born player, and Liam Hendriks was the first one I found. Then, when my very next book Edie Richter Is Not Alone turned out to be about a couple who moves from the Bay Area to Australia, I just grabbed the same card that was already out on my coffee table and doubled down on the two-time All-Star.

Luckily, there was just enough to justify the choice beyond the Australian connection. In Amnesty, Dhananjaya “Danny” Rajaratnam is a Sri Lankan immigrant who overstays his student visa in Sydney but wholly embraces his new home, learning all about the ways of the natives, Australian rugby football (never call it rugby), even going so far as dying his black hair bright blond. Similarly, Liam Hendriks has embraced not only his adoptive American home in Fort Myers, Florida, but thanks to his Canadian wife, he has a self-described “obsession” with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

Edie Richter Is Not Alone provides the better justifications for choosing a Hendriks card. Edie Richter lives in San Francisco before moving to Perth, Australia, where Hendriks was born and lived before signing with the Minnesota Twins at 18. But Hendriks also spent time in the Bay Area where he pitched for the A’s for five years and turned himself into one of the premier relievers in Major League Baseball, twice making the All-Star team and also winning the AL Reliever of the Year Award.

Writing about Liam Hendriks is at least enjoyable, as he has had an interesting career so far and has also been active in multiple charities. In 2018, the A’s squared off against the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game. The A’s lacked a clear ace in the rotation, so they opted to use Hendriks as an “opener” in the game (Becoming the first Australian-born player to start a postseason game). I texted my friend Michael and said, “You can’t feel good about having Liam Hendriks start this game.” He responded that I didn’t know how good he had been pitching. And he was right, I didn’t. To me, he was still the same pitcher that had pitched briefly for the Royals in 2014, when his 4.66 ERA was actually the lowest of his career. To me, he didn’t look much better with a 4.13 ERA for the A’s in 2018. But I was also right, Michael shouldn’t have felt good about Hendriks starting a must-win game, because he ended up allowing 2 runs and taking the loss in the Wild Card game. Since then, however, Hendriks has been very good. He has been an All-Star two of the three seasons since that game, had an ERA under 2.00 each of the following two years, and was AL Reliever of the Year in 2020, which helped him earn a 3 year, 54 million dollar free agent contract from the White Sox before the 2021 season.

Hendriks has been active in mulitple charities. He and his wife Kristie are involved in an animal rescue program called “Players For Pits” which rescues pit-bulls and helps find them homes. He also runs an anti-bullying campaign called “Strike Out.” And when he was with the A’s, he was the team’s Roberto Clemente Award (given annually to the MLB player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual’s contribution to his team.”) nominee for his involvement with Big League Impact and Striking Out Poverty, two groups that focus on ending poverty in the Dominican Republic.

In the end, the best summary of Liam Hendriks comes from Michael again: “He’s from Australia, they make em different there.”

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