SAN DIEGO PREP BASEBALL : UCLA Scouts San Diego Postmarks : Patrick Henry Coach Spreads the Word on Hennis, Karros


The letter describing Randy Hennis mentioned everything UCLA Coach Gary Adams wanted in a pitcher.

He’s a hard-throwing right-hander; he’s 6-feet 5-inches tall, and he’s a good student. “If it weren’t for that letter, I don’t know how we ever would have heard about him,” said Adams.

It’s no wonder. Hennis played his high school baseball in San Diego at Patrick Henry High. Not that far away from UCLA, but far enough in the world of college baseball recruiting.


“Once we heard about Hennis through the letter, we started asking scouts about him,” Adams said. “Then we went down to look at him ourselves.”

That worked out so well that Adams started paying close attention to his mail.

The next year he got another letter which, like the first letter, was written by Patrick Henry baseball Coach Bob Imlay. It was about an infielder. Eric Karros, who had helped lead Imlay’s team to the CIF San Diego Section finals, wound up walking on at UCLA and is playing for the Bruins this season.

“It’s definitely very rare to have two kids from the same high school playing on your team,” said Adams, who is in his 12th year at UCLA. “It’s real rare that the two kids would come from a school so far away. But thanks to the good communication we had with their coach, we have them.”

At least the two kids from the same high school took different roads to Westwood.

Hennis, the hard-throwing kid featured in the first letter, starred in basketball and baseball at Patrick Henry in 1983-’84. He was named to The Times’ All-County basketball team in 1984, but he found even more success with baseball.

“It seemed like all of the schools that recruit baseball players took a look at Randy,” Imlay said. “He took all of the alloted trips. The thing that was best was that he kept his grades up and he always knew he wanted to get an education. That’s why he was able to go to UCLA.”

Hennis played a little in his first season with the Bruins and became a member of the starting rotation this season. Hennis, the No. 2 starter, is 6-7. He beat Arizona State in Tempe for UCLA’s first victory there in three years. He also pitched five straight complete games, including victories at California and Arizona.


“That’s why I came (to UCLA),” Hennis said. “I knew I’d get a chance to pitch a lot right away. It’s a nice area, and I’m not too far away that my friends and family can’t come and see me pitch.”

The year after Hennis went to UCLA, Karros--a 6-5 third baseman--hit over .400 to lead the Patriots to the City Eastern League championship and the No. 1 ranking in the state.

After the season, however, there were few offers for his services--none with a scholarship attached. Time for some more letters.

“I sat down with Eric and he told me all of the places he wanted to go,” Imlay said. “We sent the letters out, and UCLA sent back and told him he could walk on.”

Said Adams: “When I got the letter about Karros being from Patrick Henry, of course I asked Randy about him. He didn’t say anything negative.”

Hennis said he also talked with Karros.

“He called me a few times, but basically it was his decision,” Hennis said. “I told him that I thought he would fit in with us.”


Karros has still spent most of his freshman season on the bench. Through the season’s first 47 games, he had batted only eight times with two hits, both singles.

Last Wednesday, however, against UC Irvine, he hit his first collegiate home run to help the Bruins beat the Anteaters, 18-6. Hennis was the winning pitcher.

Besides the two players at UCLA, Imlay has three players at San Diego State (Scott Middaugh, Kasey McKeon and Danny Martinez) and another player, outfielder Kevin Pahan, at Stanford.

And don’t think for a moment that he isn’t keeping an eye on them.

“How’s Matt Nokes doing?” asked Imlay, about the former Patriot who is now in the Detroit Tigers organization. “He’s my only major leaguer so far, and I’ve got to keep up with those things.”

Said Adams: “I think (Imlay’s) interest had a lot to do with those two kids being here. A lot of high school coaches don’t take the full responsibility for what happens to their players.

“I know that I’ll keep in touch with him because he’s sent me a couple of fine kids who are fine ballplayers. Hennis has as good of an arm as anybody in our league, and Karros shows a lot of promise for the future.


“Still, in the final analysis, I’d have to say it’s probably more of a coincidence than anything else that we happen to have two kids from the same school on our team.”