"It was incredible then, and it still is," says Hentgen.
So he built a 6,048-square-foot house -- and now it's on the market for $2.1 million.
Hentgen had envisioned the two-story home as a private place where he could park his boat and have an easy commute to the Jays' spring training facilities. The exotic wildlife nearby also piqued his interest.
"The wildlife is awesome. Deer, turkey, armadillo, alligators, and every type of Florida bird," he says. It was the perfect seasonal retreat for Hentgen, a native of Detroit.
The five-bedroom home has an open floor plan and is designed for entertaining. The back of the house is almost entirely glass, allowing full-on sunset views of Lake Tarpon.
Also out back is a spa-and-pool combo, situated underneath a screened-in lanai. This outdoor area is the heart of the property -- the house forms a horseshoe shape around it. The patio area is accessible from the billiard room, office, and master bedroom -- "pretty much from anywhere," says Hentgen.
Walk about 200 feet from the pool area down a paved pathway, and you'll reach the waters of Lake Tarpon, where Hentgen constructed a covered boat dock, which juts roughly 80 feet into the lake. There are two bench seats, where Hentgen recommends you sit for a "beer or coffee."
When he needs to bring his boat indoors, he moves it into the 1,500-square-foot, double-sided garage. While it's big enough to store a boat, it doubles as a storage space -- something Hentgen was concerned about, because basements in Florida are basically nonexistent.
Over his 14-year career in the big leagues, Hentgen recorded 1,290 strikeouts. We had to get his thoughts on the toughest guys he faced from the mound, and he reeled off some legendary names.
"With Derek Jeter you had to throw strikes at that dude. You didn't want to walk him and get to murderer's row behind him. Wade Boggs was good. Frank Thomas was tough 'cause he had power and could spray the ball. And Bernie Williams -- I've faced Bernie Williams more than any other guy. We played in the American League East for 10 years."
But, if he had to pick one guy who was the toughest out, he says it'd be the Hall of Famer Boggs.
As for the sale of his Florida house, he hopes it's much easier than staring down Boggs. Hentgen says he put the home on the market about four years ago, but he received only one lowball offer, which he rejected. This time around, he's upped the curb appeal, giving the exterior a new coat of paint and resealing the roof.
"The location is great. I've just got to get people out there," he says.
It's been on the market only five days, and listing agent Denise Warner of Producers Realty Corp, is showing the property this week.
The life of an itinerant big leaguer means Hentgen has traveled to a number of cities around the country. He said two of his favorites are Anaheim, CA, and Chicago, although those cities weren't enough to pry him away from his home state.
He and his wife have lived in the same Michigan home since 1994, and his three daughters attend college in the area. Although he's offloading his luxurious Florida home, he's not moving out of the Wolverine State -- as he says, he's "a Michigander, brother."
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