- Rickey Henderson
] [citation |url=http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/pinchhits/2001-04-18-pinchhits.htm |title=Henderson tops list of leadoff hitters |newspaper=USATODAY.com |author=Nate Davis |date=
In 1982, he set the modern major league single season record for stolen bases at 130. He set the modern major league record for career stolen bases on May 1, 1991.cite web |url=http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/261179/Rickey-Henderson#tab=active~checked%2Citems~checked&title=Rickey%20Henderson%20--%20Britannica%20Online%20Encyclopedia |title=Rickey Henderson |publisher=Britannica Online Encyclopedia |accessdate=2008-02-17|format= |work= ] At the time of his last major league game in 2003, Henderson ranked among the sport's top 100 all-time home run hitters; he was also the all-time leader in walks with 2,190, a record since surpassed by
Barry Bondsin 2007.
Henderson was the leadoff hitter for two World Series champions: the 1989 Oakland Athletics (A's) and the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays. He played for seven other teams during his career, including the
New York Yankees, the San Diego Padres, and the New York Mets. Henderson was a 12-time stolen base champion, and led the league in runs five times.
When asked if he thought Rickey Henderson was a Hall of Famer,
statistician Bill Jamesreplied, "If you could split him in two, you'd have two Hall of Famers." [cite web |url=http://www.baseballmusings.com/archives/003774.php |last=Pinto|first=David|title= Neyer On Sabermetrics and Race|publisher=Baseball Musings (via Internet Archive)|accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ]
Early years and personal life
Henderson was born Rickey Nelson Henley, named after musician
Ricky Nelsoncite web |url=http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070721&content_id=2100450&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb |title=Notes: Henderson's rockin' past |accessdate=2008-03-09 |format= |publisher=MLB.com ] to John L. and Bobbie Henley in Chicagoon Christmas Day, 1958, in the back seat of a 57 Chevyon the way to the hospital.cite web |url=http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070721&content_id=2100450&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb |title=Notes: Henderson's rockin' past | MLB.com: News |accessdate=2008-08-16|last=Noble|first=Marty |date=July 21, 2007 |work= |publisher=MLB.com] His father left home when he was two years old, and the rest of his family moved to Oakland, Californiawhen Henderson was seven. [cite book|last=Henderson|first=Rickey|coauthors=John Shea|title=Off Base: Confessions of a Thief|pages=22–23|publisher=HarperCollins|month=June | year=1992|id=ISBN 0-0601-7975-9] His father died in an automobile accident when he was 12. When he was a junior in high school, his mother married Paul Henderson and the family adopted his surname. When first learning to play baseball in Oakland, Henderson learned to bat right-handed even though he was a natural left-handed thrower — a rare combination for baseball players, especially non-pitchers. Only two other such players with careers of more than 4,000 at-bats, Hal Chaseand Cleon Jones, bat right and threw left.cite web |url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/archives/date/2008/03/page/2 |title=Stat of the Day » 2008 » March |accessdate=2008-08-16 |author= |date=March 21, 2008|publisher=Baseball-Reference.com |work= ] Henderson later said, "All my friends were right-handed and swung from the right side, so I thought that's the way it was supposed to be done."cite book|last=Henderson|first=Rickey|coauthors=John Shea|title=Off Base: Confessions of a Thief|pages=52-53|publisher=HarperCollins|month=June | year=1992|id=ISBN 0-0601-7975-9]
He graduated in 1976 from Oakland Technical High School, where he played baseball,
basketball, and football, in which he was an All-American running back. He received two dozen scholarship offers to play football, but turned them down. [cite web|title=The Baseball Report. V (1). (via Internet Archive)|last=Frankel|first= Michael|year=2001|publisher=The Baseball Report|url=http://web.archive.org/web/20041109095208/http://baseballreport.tripod.com/The+Baseball+Report+Volume+V+Issue+1.htm|accessdate=2007-06-24] Henderson was drafted by Oakland Athleticsin the fourth round in 1976. [cite web|url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/index.cgi?year_ID=1976&round=4&draft_type=junreg|title=4th Round of the 1976 June Draft|accessdate=2007-06-25|publisher=Sports Reference, Inc] In each of his four minor league seasons, he batted .309 or better, with an on base percentage of .417 or better, and more walks than strikeouts.cite web|url=http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/H/rickey-henderson.shtml|title=Rickey Henderson Baseball Statistics|accessdate=2007-06-25|publisher=The Baseball Cube] In May 1977, Henderson stole seven bases in one game, tying the minor league record. [cite web|url=http://www.sportsmemorabilia.com/player/Rickey_Henderson |title=Rickey Henderson Memorabilia |accessdate=2008-06-25|publisher=SportsMemorabilia.com, LLC.] Henderson played the 1978–1979 winter season for the Navojoa Mayos of the Mexican Pacific League, which won its first championship in 30 years. [cite web |url=http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.terra.com/deportes/articulo/html/fox175218.htm&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=9&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3DHenderson%2B%2BNavojoa%2BMayos%2B%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26channel%3Ds%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26hs%3Dm8z%26sa%3DG |title=Rickey Henderson looking back |author=Jesus Alberto Rubio |publisher=Terra |accessdate=2008-03-13 |format= |work= ]
Henderson married his high-school sweetheart, Pamela. They have three children: Angela, Alexis, and Adriann. [cite web |url=http://www.answers.com/topic/rickey-henderson |title=Rickey Henley Henderson: Biography and Much More from Answers.com|publisher=Answers.com|accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ]
Oakland Athletics (1979–1984)
Henderson made his major-league debut with Oakland on June 24, Baseball Year|1979, going 2-for-4 with a stolen base. Henderson batted .274 with 33 stolen bases in 89 games. [cite web |url=http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet.com/attachments/14026.pdf |title=A Resolution Authorizing the Renaming of Lucky A's Baseball Field in Arroyo Viejo Park Located at 7701 Krause Avenue, Oakland to the Rickey Henderson Baseball Field|author=Office of Parks and Recreation |publisher=City of Oakland |date=2006-07-13 |accessdate=2008-03-18 |format= |work= ] A's owner
Charlie Finleyhired Billy Martinas manager in Baseball Year|1980, and Martin's aggressive "Billy Ball" philosophy helped catapult Henderson into stardom. [cite web|title=Rickey was a run walking|publisher=ESPN|accessdate=2008-08-25|last=Wiley|first=Ralph|url=http://espn.go.com/page2/s/wiley/011005.html] Henderson became the 3rd modern-era player to steal 100 bases in a season ( Maury Wills(104) and Lou Brock(118) had preceded him).cite web|url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/SB_leagues.shtml|title=Year-by-Year League Leaders & Records for Stolen Bases|publisher=Baseball-Reference.com|accessdate=2008-08-25] His 100 steals set a new American Leaguerecord, surpassing Ty Cobb's 96, set in 1915. That winter, Henderson played in the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League, where his 42 stolen bases broke that league's record as well. [cite web |url=http://www.minorleaguenews.com/baseball/affiliated/aaa/pcl/features/articles2004/041404.1.html |title=Carlos Bernier - Pacific Coast League (PCL) 2004 Hall of Fame |accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |publisher=Minor League News ]
Henderson was a serious Most Valuable Player candidate a year later, in a season shortened by a players' strike. He hit .319, fourth in the American League, led the league in hits with 135, and in steals with 56. Finishing second to Milwaukee's
Rollie Fingersin the MVP voting, Henderson's fielding that season also earned him his only Gold Glove Award. Rickey Henderson later became known for his showboating "snatch catches," in which he would flick his glove out at incoming fly balls, then whip his arm behind his back after making the catch. [cite book|last=Henderson|first=Rickey|coauthors=John Shea|title=Off Base: Confessions of a Thief|pages=1-10|publisher=HarperCollins|month=June | year=1992|id=ISBN 0-0601-7975-9]
In Baseball Year|1982, Henderson broke
Lou Brock's modern major league record by stealing 130 bases, a total which has not been approached since. He stole 84 bases by the All-Star break; no player has stolen as many as 84 bases in an entire season since 1988, when Henderson himself stole 93. Tim Raineshad the next highest stolen base total in 1982 behind Henderson's 130 steals, with 78. [cite news | url=http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=Lou_Brock_1939 | title=The Ballplayers - Lou Brock | publisher=Baseball Library | year=2006 | accessdate=2008-03-19] As his muscular frame developed, Henderson continued to improve as a hitter. He developed an increased power-hitting ability, which would eventually lead to the record for home runs to lead off a game. For his career, he would hit more than 20 home runs in four different seasons, with a high of 28 in by|1986 and again in by|1990.cite web |url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/h/henderi01.shtml |title=Rickey Henderson Statistics|publisher=Baseball-Reference.com |accessdate=2008-03-10 |format= |work= ]
Henderson adopted an exaggerated crouch as his batting stance, which reduced his
strike zonewithout sacrificing much power. In 1982, he described his approach to Sports Illustrated::"I found that if I squatted down real low at the plate... I could see the ball better. I also knew it threw the pitcher off. I found that I could put my weight on my back foot and still turn my hips on the swing. I'm down so low I don't have much of a strike zone. Sometimes, walking so much even gets me mad. Last year Ed Ott of the Angels got so frustrated because the umpire was calling balls that would've been strikes on anybody else that he stood up and shouted at me, "Stand up and hit like a man." I guess I do that to people." [cite web|url=http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1125503/4/index.htm |title=The defensive brilliance shared by A's outfielders - 05.10.82 - SI Vault |publisher=Vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com |author=Ron Fimrite |date=May 10, 1982 |accessdate=2008-10-09] Sportswriter Jim Murray described Henderson's strike zone as being "smaller than Hitler's heart."http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1029027/6/index.htm]
New York Yankees (1985–1989)
In by|1985, Henderson was traded to the
New York Yankeesfor five players. [cite web |publisher=Baseball-Reference.com|url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/New_York_Yankees |title=New York Yankees - BR Bullpen |accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ] That year he led the league in runs scored (146) and stolen bases (80), was fourth in the league in walks (99) and on base percentage (.419), and had 24 home runs while hitting .314.cite web |url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL_1985.shtml |title=1985 American League (AL) Statistics and Awards |accessdate=2008-08-16 |work= |publisher=Baseball-Reference.com |date= ] He also won the Silver Slugger Award, and was third in the voting for the MVP. His 146 runs scored were the most since Ted Williamshad 150 in Baseball Year|1950. [cite web |url=http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=Rickey_Henderson_1958 |title=Rickey Henderson |accessmonthday=March |accessyear=2008 |author= |date= |work= |publisher= Baseball Library] Henderson became the first player in Major League history to reach 80 stolen bases and 20 home runs in the 1985 season. He matched the feat in 1986, as did the Reds' Eric Davis; they remain the only players in Major League history who are in the "80/20 club".cite web |url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/d/daviser01.shtml |title=Eric Davis Statistics |accessdate=2008-08-16 |publisher=Baseball-Reference.com |date= |work=]
In by|1986, he led the AL in runs scored (130) and stolen bases (87) for the second year in a row, and was 7th in walks (89).cite web |url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL_1986.shtml |title=1986 American League (AL) Statistics and Awards |accessdate=2008-08-16 |publisher=Baseball-Reference.com |date= |work= ] In by|1987, he had an off-season by his standards, fueling criticism from the New York media, which had never covered Henderson or his eccentricities kindly. [cite book|last=Henderson|first=Rickey|coauthors=John Shea|title=Off Base: Confessions of a Thief|pages=90–91, 164–165|publisher=HarperCollins|month=June | year=1992|id=ISBN 0-0601-7975-9] Yankees owner
George Steinbrennerissued a press release claiming that manager Lou Piniellawanted to trade Henderson for "jaking it" (playing lackadaisically). [cite web |url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1208/is_22_224/ai_62650037 |title=Mariners hope Rickey helps lead them back to the playoffs - Brief Article|publisher=The Sporting News|accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ] Still, Henderson had his best on base percentage(OBP) to that point in his career (.423), and was fifth in the AL in stolen bases (41) despite playing only 95 games.cite web |url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL_1987.shtml |title=1987 American League (AL) Statistics and Awards |accessdate=2008-08-16 |publisher=Baseball-Reference.com |date= |work=] In by|1988, Henderson led the AL in stolen bases (93), was third in runs scored (118), fifth in OBP (.394), and seventh in walks (82), while hitting .305. While only in New York for four and a half seasons, Henderson stole 326 bases, still the Yankees franchise record.cite web |title=New York Yankees Batting Leaders|publisher=Baseball-Reference.com|url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/NYY/leaders_bat.shtml|accessdate=2008-08-25]
Back to Oakland (1989–1993)
Following a mid-season trade to Oakland in by|1989, Henderson reasserted himself as one of the game's greatest players, with a memorable half-season in which his 52 steals and 72 runs scored led the A's into the postseason. His 126 walks for the year were the most for any AL hitter since by|1970. With a record 8 steals in five games, Henderson was MVP of the American League Championship Series; he hit .400 while scoring 8 runs and delivering two home runs, 5
runs batted in(RBI), 7 walks and a 1.000 slugging percentage. Leading the A's to a four-game sweep over the San Francisco Giantsand the franchise's first World Series title since 1974, Henderson hit .474 with a .895 slugging average (including two triples and a homer), while stealing three more bases.
A year later, Henderson finished second in the league in batting average with a mark of .325, losing out to George Brett on the final day of the season. Henderson had a remarkably consistent season, with his batting average falling below .320 for only one game, the third of the year. Reaching safely by a hit or a walk in 125 of his 136 games, his on-base average was a league-leading .439. With 119 runs scored, 28 homers, 61 RBI and 65 stolen bases, Rickey Henderson won the 1990 MVP award and helped Oakland to another pennant. He again performed well in the World Series (.333 batting, .667 slugging, 3 steals in 4 games), but the A's were swept by the underdog
Cincinnati Reds. [cite web |url=http://www.baseball-almanac.com/ws/yr1990ws.shtml |title=1990 World Series by Baseball Almanac|publisher=Baseball Almanac |accessdate=2008-08-16 |date= |work=]
In July by|1993, the Athletics traded Henderson to the playoff-bound
Toronto Blue Jaysfor Steve Karsayand José Herrera. He was involved in the final play of the World Series that year, as he and Paul Molitorscored on Joe Carter's Series-ending walk-off home run. [cite web|title=Home Sweet Homer|publisher=Sports Illustrated|url=http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/features/1998/wsarchive/1993.html|accessdate=2008-08-28|date=1993-11-01|last=Rushin|first=Steve] After winning his second World Series ring with Toronto, he re-signed as a free agent with Oakland in December by|1993.
In by|1994 and by|1995, Henderson finished in the top 10 in the league in walks, steals, and on base percentage. [cite web |url=http://www.thebaseballpage.com/players/henderi01.php |title=Rickey Henderson |publisher=The Baseball Page |accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ] His .300 average in 1995 marked his sixth and final season in the American League with a .300 or better average. He signed with the San Diego Padres in the offseason, where he had another respectable year in by|1996, again finishing in the top ten in walks, OBP and steals, and runs.cite web|url=http://media.www.dailytexanonline.com/media/storage/paper410/news/2001/04/25/Sports/Stolen.Base.King.Rickey.Henderson.Knots.Up.Ruths.Walk.Mark-700155.shtml|publisher=Daily Texan Online|title=Stolen base king Rickey Henderson knots up Ruth's walk mark|accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ] In August by|1997, he was traded by the Padres to the Anaheim Angels for
Ryan Hancockand Stevenson Agosto; his brief stint as an Angel was uneventful. In January by|1998, he signed as a free agent with the Oakland Athletics, the fourth different time he played for the franchise. That season he led the American League in stolen bases (66) and walks (118), while scoring 101 runs. [cite web |url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Kevin_Towers |title=Kevin Towers - BR Bullpen |publisher=Baseball-Reference.com|accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ]
A year later, Henderson signed as a free agent with the
New York Mets. In by|1999, he batted .315 with 37 steals and was 7th in the National League in on base percentage — his .423 OBP was his 9th year in a row above .400. [cite web|title=1999 On Base Percentage Leaders: Top 25 in the National League|publisher=Baseball-Reference.com|accessdate=2008-08-25|url=http://www.baseball-almanac.com/yearly/top25.php?s=OBP&l=NL&y=1999] Nonetheless, Henderson and the Mets were an uneasy fit. Following the Mets' loss in the 1999 NLCS, the New York press made much of a card game between Henderson and Bobby Bonilla. Both players had been substituted out of the lineup, and they reportedly left the dugout before the playoff game had concluded. [cite web|url=http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/news/1999/10/21/mets_ap/|title=Card game: Henderson, Bonilla show up Valentine in Game 6|publisher=Sports Illustrated|accessdate=2008-08-25|date=1999-10-22] In May by|2000 he was released by New York, and quickly signed as a free agent with the Seattle Mariners. Despite the late start, he finished fourth in the AL in stolen bases (31). [cite web|url=http://www.baseball-almanac.com/yearly/top25.php?s=SB&l=AL&y=2000|title=2000 Stolen Bases Leaders: Top 25 in the American League|publisher=Baseball-Reference.com|accessdate=2008-08-25]
A free agent in March by|2001, he returned to the
San Diego Padres. During the Baseball Year|2001 season, Henderson broke two major league records and reached a career milestone. He broke Babe Ruth's all-time record for walks, Ty Cobb's all-time record for runs, [cite web|title=Henderson Breaks Cobb's Record in Style|publisher=New York Times|accessdate=2008-08-28|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9505E4D9173CF936A35753C1A9679C8B63|date=2001-10-05] and on the final day of the season, he had his 3,000th career hit. [cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C04EEDB133CF93BA35753C1A9679C8B63|title=Henderson: It's an Even 3,000 Hits|publisher=New York Times|accessdate=2008-08-28|date=2001-10-08] That final game was also Padre legend Tony Gwynn's last major league game, and Henderson had originally wanted to sit out so as not to detract from the occasion, but Gwynn insisted that Henderson play. [cite web|title=A Credit to Cooperstown|first=Al|last=Doyle|publisher=Baseball Analysts|url=http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2007/01/a_credit_to_coo.php|accessdate=2008-08-28|date=2007-01-25] At the age of 42, in his last substantial major league season, Henderson finished the year with 25 stolen bases, ninth in the NL. It also marked Rickey Henderson's 23rd consecutive season with more than 20 steals. Of the ten top base stealers who were still active as of by|2002, all nine of the others stole fewer bases in 2002 than the 42-year-old Henderson. [cite web |url=http://bss.sfsu.edu/tygiel/hist490/statistics/stolen_base_leaders_19472002.htm |publisher=San Francisco State University|title=Stolen Base Leaders 1947-2002 |accessdate=2008-03-10 |format= |work=Course Outline - History 490: The History and Literature of Baseball ]
In February 2002, he signed as a free agent with the
Boston Red Sox, where he became the oldest player to play center field in major league history when he stood in for starter Johnny Damon. Henderson's arrival was marked by a statistical oddity; since his debut season in 1979 through the 2001 season, he had stolen more bases by himself than his new team had: 1,395 steals for Henderson, 1,382 for the Boston franchise. At 43, Henderson was the oldest player in the American League. [cite news | url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/Oldest_leagues.shtml | title=A Year-by-Year League Leaders & Records for Oldest Player | publisher=Baseball-Reference.com | date=2007-10-28 | accessdate=2007-11-27]
As the by|2003 season began, Henderson was without a team for the first time in his career. He played in the independent
Atlantic Leaguewith the Newark Bears, hoping for a chance with another major league organization. After much media attention, the Los Angeles Dodgerssigned him over the All-Star break. [cite web |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0DE1DF1F3AF931A25751C1A96E958260 |title=BASEBALL; Mets and Henderson Are Closing In On Deal|author=Diamos, Jason|publisher=The New York Times |accessdate=2008-03-09]
Before the 2003 season, his last, Henderson discussed his reputation for hanging onto his lengthy baseball career:
Henderson played his last major league game September 19, by|2003; he was hit by a pitch in his only plate appearance, and came around to score his 2,295th run. Though it became increasingly unlikely that he would return to major league action, his status continued to confound, as he publicly debated his own official retirement from professional baseball. [cite web |url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2005/12/07/SPGALG46E51.DTL|title=Rickey's retirement plans: will he or won't he?|author=|accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |publisher=San Francisco Chronicle] After leaving the Dodgers, Henderson started his second consecutive season with the
Newark Bearsin the spring of 2004. In 91 games he had a .462 OBP, more than twice as many walks (96) as strikeouts (41), and stole 37 bases while being caught only twice. On May 9, 2005, Henderson signed with the San Diego Surf Dawgsof the Golden Baseball League, a Class-A independent league. This was the SurfDawgs' and the Golden Baseball League's inaugural season and Henderson helped the SurfDawgs to the league championship. In 73 games he had a .456 OBP, 73 walks while striking out 43 times, and 16 steals while being caught only twice. [cite web |url=http://www.goldenbaseball.com/SanDiego/PlayersBio.aspx?PlayerID=280&SecID=397 |title=San Diego Surf Sawgs|publisher=Golden Baseball League|accessdate=2008-03-09 |format= |work= ]
Henderson would not accept the end of his MLB career. In May 2005, he was still insisting that he is capable of playing in the major leagues.
NBCand ESPNreported that Henderson had announced his much-delayed official retirement on December 6, 2005, but his agent denied the report the following day. On February 10, 2006, Henderson accepted a position as a hitting instructor for the New York Mets, while leaving the door open to returning as a player. In July 2006, Henderson discussed an offer he'd received to rejoin the SurfDawgs for the 2006 season, which would have been his 31st in professional baseball, but suggested he'd had enough. But six weeks later, on August 11, Henderson claimed "It's sort of weird not to be playing, but I decided to take a year off," adding, "I can't say I will retire. My heart is still in it... I still love the game right now, so I'm going to wait it out and see what happens." [cite web |url=http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=5417&mode=print |title=The Week In Quotes: August 7-13|last=Erhardt|first=John|publisher=Baseball Prospectus|date=August 14, 2006 |accessdate=2008-03-10 |format= |work= ]
On May 8, 2007, Henderson again expressed his unquenchable desire to return to major league action: "I see Roger [Clemens] can come back and play. I can come back and play. They say I've done too much... I might come out with some crazy stuff, a press conference telling every club, 'Put me on the field with your best player and see if I come out of it.' If I can't do it, I'll call it quits at the end... I just want a spring training invite... I'm through, really. I'm probably through with it now. It's just one of those things. I thank the good Lord I played as long as I played and came out of it healthy. I took a lot of pounding."cite web|title=Henderson would like one more chance to make a big league team|author=McCauley, Janie|publisher=Associated Press via Yahoo! Sports|date=May 8, 2007|url=http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ap-rickeyhenderson-anothergo&prov=ap&type=lgns|accessdate=2007-06-24]
On May 18, 2007, the
San Francisco Chroniclereported that Oakland general manager Billy Beanewas considering adding Henderson to the roster for one game in September, provided it did not "infringe on the integrity of the roster or of the season," so that Henderson could retire as an Oakland A's player. [cite news|title=A Rickey Reunion?|last=Slusser|first=Susan|publisher=San Francisco Chronicle|date=May 18, 2007|url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/18/SPG11PTFL91.DTL|accessdate=2007-06-24] A month later, Henderson appeared to reject the overture, saying, "One day? I don't want one day. I want to play again, man. I don't want nobody's spot... I just want to see if I deserve to be out there. If I don't, just get rid of me, release me. And if I belong, you don't have to pay me but the minimum — and I'll donate every penny of that to some charity. So, how's that hurtin' anybody?... Don't say goodbye for me... When I want that one day they want to give me so bad, I'll let you know." [cite web |url=http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070701/SPORTS/707010404 |title=Rickey not ready for token farewell|publisher=The Times Herald Record|date=2007-01-01|author=Associated Press|accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ]
Contrary to speculation, [cite web |url=http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2056132 |title=Henderson signs contract to play in San Diego - MLB|publisher=ESPN |accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ] [cite web |url=http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/18/SPG11PTFL91.DTL |title=A Rickey Reunion?|author=Slusser, Susan|publisher=San Francisco Chronicle |accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ] [cite web |url=http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20050509/news_1s9rickey.html|title=Rickey to play for Surf Dawgs | The San Diego Union-Tribune|author=Kenney, Kirk|publisher=The San Diego Union Tribune |accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ] Henderson's refusal to officially retire was not delaying his eligibility for Hall of Fame induction; the five-year waiting period is based on major league service only. Henderson will become eligible for the 2009 induction vote, provided he does not return to major league play. [cite web |url=http://bleacherreport.com/articles/6187-the-class-of-2009-who-will-join-rickey |title=The Class of 2009: Who Will Join Rickey?|publisher=Bleacher Report |accessdate=2008-03-06 |format= |work= ] Henderson finally conceded his "official retirement" on July 13, 2007: "I haven't submitted retirement papers to MLB, but I think MLB already had their papers that I was retired." Characteristically, he added, "If it was a situation where we were going to win the World Series and I was the only player that they had left, I would put on the shoes." [cite web |url=http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070714/SPORTS/707140340 |title=Mets name Henderson new first-base coach; HoJo replaces Down as hitting coach |publisher=The Times Herald Record|author=Associated Press |accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ]
New York Metshired Henderson as a special instructor in 2006, primarily to work with hitters and to teach basestealing. Henderson's impact was noticeable on José Reyes, the Mets' current leadoff hitter. [cite news|work=Sports Illustrated|title=Untitled|pages=57|publisher=Time Inc.|date=May 7, 2007] "I always want to be around the game," Henderson said in May 2007. "That's something that's in my blood. Helping them have success feels just as good."
On July 13, 2007, the New York Mets promoted Henderson from special instructor to first base coach, replacing Howard Johnson, who became the hitting coach. [cite web |url=http://www.sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ti-metshittingcoach071307&prov=yhoo&type=lgns |title=Mets to name Johnson hitting coach |name=Tim Brown |date=
2007-07-13|accessdate=2007-10-03 |publisher=Yahoo Sports] Henderson was not retained as a coach for 2008.
Illeism, malapropism and anecdotes
Henderson was known for being an
illeistby referring to himself in the third person; teammates reported seeing Henderson standing naked in front of a mirror before a game, practicing his swing, and declaring, "Rickey's the best! Rickey's the best!" During one off-season, Henderson called Padres general manager Kevin Towersand left the message "Kevin, this is Rickey. Calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball." In 2003, he discussed his unusual phraseology, saying, "People are always saying, 'Rickey says Rickey.' But it's been blown way out of proportion. I say it when I don't do what I need to be doing. I use it to remind myself, like,`Rickey, what you doing, you stupid....' I'm just scolding myself." Henderson was capable of the first person pronoun, such as the time he defended his position during a contract dispute: "All I'm asking for is what I want." [http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1029027/2/index.htm]
There are many anecdotes about Henderson. A Padres teammate (variously reported as
Steve Finleyor Tony Gwynn) once offered him a front seat on the team bus, saying that Henderson had tenure. Henderson replied, "Ten years? What are you talking about? Rickey got 16, 17 years." Jon Heyman of The Sporting Newsstated he is willing to believe an apocryphalstory of Henderson being so proud of one of his paychecks that he framed it instead of cashing it, thus losing several months interest on a $1 million check. [cite journal|title=Henderson's antics tarnish his brilliant career|author=Heyman, Jon|journal=The Sporting News via FindArticles|pages=1|date=April 17, 2000|url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1208/is_16_224/ai_61933906|accessdate=2007-06-24 | volume = 408 | doi = 10.1038/35046237] In 2002, Henderson had an argument with El Duque and stated, "He needs to grow up a little bit. I ain't a kid. When I broke into the game, he was crawling on his hands and knees. Unless he's as old as I am. He probably is."cite news|url=http://www.newsday.com/sports/columnists/ny-spjim0712,0,934826.column|title=The best of Rickey being Rickey|last=Baumbach|first=Jim|date=07-12-2007|publisher=Newsday.com|accessdate=2008-08-19]
One widely reported story, however, was a fabrication which began as a clubhouse joke by a visiting player.cite news | url=http://archive.salon.com/people/bc/2001/10/09/henderson/print.html | title=Rickey Henderson | first=Allen |last=St. John | publisher="
Salon.com" | date=2001-10-09 | accessdate=2008-03-17] While playing for Seattle in 2000, Henderson supposedly went up to John Olerud, and remarked on Olerud's practice of wearing a batting helmet out on the field, noting that he used to have a teammate in Toronto who did the same thing, to which Olerud was said to have replied, "That was me." The two men had been together the previous season, with the 1999 New York Mets, as well as with the 1993 World Champion Blue Jays. Several news outlets originally reported the story as fact. [cite web|title=Henderson-Olerud Story Never Happened|publisher=Baseball Library|date=2002-04-01|last=Patterson|first=Harry|url=http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/submit/Patterson_Harry1.stm|accessdate=2008-08-25] [cite web|title=The List: Baseball's biggest rumors|publisher=ESPN|last=Merron|first=Jeff|accessdate=2008-08-25|url=http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/baseballrumors.html] [cite web|publisher=Sports Illustrated|url=http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1019504/3/index.htm|accessdate=2008-08-25|date=2000-06-19|first=Stephen|last=Cannella|title=Baseball]
quote= It took a long time, huh? [Pause for cheers] First of all, I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity. I want to thank the Haas family, the Oakland organization, the city of Oakland, and all you beautiful fans for supporting me. [Pause for cheers] Most of all, I'd like to thank my mom, my friends, and loved ones for their support. I want to give my appreciation to
Tom Trebelhornand the late Billy Martin. Billy Martin was a great manager. He was a great friend to me. I love you, Billy. I wish you were here. [Pause for cheers] Lou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing. But today, I'm the greatest of all time. Thank you.
source=—Rickey Henderson's full speech after breaking Lou Brock's record. [cite book|last=Henderson|first=Rickey|coauthors=John Shea|title=Off Base: Confessions of a Thief|pages=153–154|publisher=HarperCollins|month=June | year=1992|id=ISBN 0-0601-7975-9] |
On May 1, by|1991, Henderson broke one of baseball's most famous records when he stole the 939th base of his career, one more than
Lou Brock. However, Henderson's achievement was somewhat overshadowed because Nolan Ryan, at age 44, set a record that same night by throwing a no-hitteragainst Toronto, the seventh of his career. Two years earlier, Ryan had achieved glory at Henderson's expense by making him his 5,000th strikeout victim. Henderson took an odd delight in the occurrence, saying, "If you haven't been struck out by Nolan Ryan, you're nobody." [cite web |url=http://www.smackbomb.com/nolanryan/art-imjustaman.html |title=The Nolan Ryan Express|publisher=The Nolan Ryan Express|author=Associated Press |accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |work= ]
Henderson's speech (at right) after breaking
Lou Brock's all-time steals record was similar to the standard victory or award speech. Henderson thanked God and his mother, as well as the people that helped him in baseball. The "I'm the greatest of all time" quote has been taken by many to support the notion that Henderson is selfish and arrogant, [cite web|title=Meet the Real Rickey Henderson|author=Zingler, David|publisher=Simply Baseball Notebook|month=September | year=2002|url=http://z.lee28.tripod.com/sbnscoverstories/id12.html|accessdate=2007-06-24] although years later, Henderson revealed that he had gone over his planned remarks ahead of time with Brock, and the Cardinals Hall of Famer "had no problem with it. In fact, he helped me write what I was going to say that day." [cite web|url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FCI/is_2_62/ai_95915327|accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |title=One on one with Rickey Henderson: future Hall of Famer - Interview |work= Baseball Digest]
Henderson has mixed feelings about his comments:quote|As soon as I said it, it ruined everything. Everybody thought it was the worst thing you could ever say. Those words haunt me to this day, and will continue to haunt me. They overshadow what I've accomplished in this game.
Asked if he believes the passage of time will improve his reputation, Henderson said:
As it now stands, however, Henderson has 468 more stolen bases than Brock. For his career, Henderson has 50% more stolen bases (1,406) than the sport's all-time runner-up (938). [cite web|title=Career Leaders & Records for Stolen Bases|url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/SB_career.shtml|accessdate=2008-08-28|publisher=Baseball-Reference.com] In 1993, Henderson stole his 1,066th base, surpassing the worldwide record established ten years earlier by
Yutaka Fukumotofor the Hankyu Bravesin the Japanese Baseball League. [cite web |url=http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/oak/history/timeline5.jsp |title=History: Athletics Timeline |accessdate=2008-03-09 |format= |publisher=MLB.com ] In his prime, Henderson had a virtual monopoly on the stolen base title in the American League. Between 1980 and 1991, he led the league in steals every season except 1987, [cite web|url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/SB_leagues.shtml|title=Year-by-Year League Leaders for Stolen Bases|accessdate=2007-06-25|publisher=Baseball-Reference.com] when he missed part of the season due to a nagging hamstring injury, [cite news|last=Martinez|first=Michael|title=Henderson Placed on Disabled List|accessdate=2007-06-05|date= 1987-08-02|publisher= New York Times|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE1D7173CF931A3575BC0A961948260] allowing Seattle Marinerssecond baseman Harold Reynoldsto win the title. He had one more league-leading season after that stretch, when his 66 steals in 1998 made him the oldest SB leader in baseball history. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Henderson also owns the record for times caught stealing (335). Due to incomplete recordkeeping for that statistic, though, it is unknown whether Henderson is the actual career leader. [http://www.baseball-statistics.com/Leaders/glossary.htm Glossary of terms; Baseball Statistics.com] - Caught stealing totals went largely unrecorded until 1920; it is therefore statistically likely that Eddie Collins(7th in steals) was thrown out more times than Henderson.] However, Henderson's overall 81% success rate on the basepaths is among the highest percentages in history. ( Tim Rainesranks first among players with at least 300 career attempts, with 84%.) [cite web|url=http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6604|accessdate=2008-02-17 |publisher=Baseball Prospectus |title=Prospectus Q&A|work= ] On July 29, by|1989, Henderson stole 5 bases against the Seattle Mariners' left-handed Randy Johnson, his career high, and one shy of the single-game MLB record. Unusually, Henderson was 0–0 in the game (he had four walks). Henderson had eighteen 4-steal games during his career. In August by|1983, in a 3-game series against the Brewers and a 2-game series versus the Yankees, Henderson had 13 stolen bases in 5 games.
Charlie Metroremembered the havoc caused by Henderson: '"I did a lot of study and I found that it's impossible to throw Rickey Henderson out. I started using stopwatches and everything. I found it was impossible to throw some other guys out also. They can go from first to second in 2.9 seconds; and no pitcher catcher combination in baseball could throw from here to there to tag second in 2.9 seconds, it was always 3, 3.1, 3.2. So actually, the runner that can make the continuous, regular move like Rickey's can't be thrown out, and he's proven it." [cite web|url=http://www.baseball-almanac.com/quotes/quohenr.shtml|accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |title=Rickey Henderson Quotes|publisher=Baseball Almanac ] Baltimore Orioles third baseman Floyd Rayforddescribed the confusion he felt during a particular game, when Henderson was leading off first base and signalling him with two fingers. Henderson quickly stole second base, then third, and Rayford understood the gesture.http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1029027/9/index.htm]
Henderson was a headfirst slider. In September 2008, Henderson discussed his basestealing technique at length with
Sports Illustrated::"I wanted to know how to dive into the base because I was getting strawberries on my knees and strawberries on my ass... I was thinking about head-first versus feet-first, and wondering which would save my body. With head-first I worried about pounding my shoulders and my hands, and with feet-first I would worry about my knees and my legs. I felt that running was more important to me, with my legs, so I started going head-first. I got my [low-to-the-ground] technique from airplanes...I was on a plane and asleep and the plane bounced and when we landed we bounced and it woke me up. Then the next flight I had the same pilot and the plane went down so smooth. So I asked the pilot why, and he said when you land a plane smooth, you get the plane elevated to the lowest position you can and then you smooth it in. Same with sliding... If you dive when you're running straight up then you have a long distance to get to the ground. But the closer you get to the ground the less time it will take... I was hitting the dirt so smooth, so fast, when I hit the dirt, there wasn't no hesitation. It was like a skid mark, like you throw a rock on the water and skid off it. So when I hit the ground, if you didn't have the tag down, I was by you. No matter if the ball beat me, I was by you. That was what made the close plays go my way, I think." [cite web|url=http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/baseball/mlb/09/10/ballard.hendersonrollins/index.html |title=Chris Ballard: More from Rickey Henderson and Jimmy Rollins on the art of the steal - MLB - SI.com |publisher=Sportsillustrated.cnn.com |date= |accessdate=2008-10-09]
San Diego Padres closer
Trevor Hoffmansaid, "I don't know how to put into words how fortunate I was to spend time around one of the icons of the game. I can't comprehend that yet. Years from now, though, I'll be able to say I played with Rickey Henderson, and I imagine it will be like saying I played with Babe Ruth." [http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1029027/index.htm] Padres general manager Kevin Towerssaid, "I get e-mails daily from fans saying, 'Sign Rickey.' ...I get more calls and e-mails about him than anybody... We've had some special players come through San Diego. But there's an aura about him nobody else has." [http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1029027/10/index.htm]
Tony LaRussasaid, "He rises to the occasion—the big moment—better than anybody I've ever seen." [http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1029027/8/index.htm] Coach Rene Lachemannsaid, "If you're one run down, there's nobody you'd ever rather have up at the plate than Rickey." Sportswriter Tom Verducciwrote, "Baseball is designed to be an egalitarian sort of game in which one player among the 18 is not supposed to dominate... Yet in the past quarter century Henderson and Barry Bondshave come closest to dominating a baseball game the way Michael Jordancould a basketball game."
In July 2007,
New York Sunsportswriter Tim Marchmanwrote about Henderson's accomplishments:
As of 2008, Henderson ranks 4th all-time in games played (3,081), 10th in at-bats (10,961), 20th in hits (3,055), and first in runs scored (2,295) and
stolen bases (1,406). His record for most walks all-time (2,190) has since been broken by Barry Bonds; Henderson is now second. He also holds the record for most home runs to lead off a game, with 81; Houston's Craig Biggiohas the second-most ever, with 53. During the 2003 season, Henderson surpassed Babe Ruth for the career record in secondary bases (total bases compiled from extra base hits, walks, stolen bases, and hit by pitch). In 1993, he led off both games of a doubleheader with homers. At the time of his last major league game, Henderson was still in the all-time Top 100 home run hitters, with 297. Bill Jameswrote in 2000, "Without exaggerating one inch, you could find fifty Hall of Famers who, all taken together, don't own as many records, and as many "important" records, as Rickey Henderson." [cite book|last=James|first=Bill|authorlink=Bill James|title=The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract|publisher=Free Press|year=2001|isbn=0-684-80697-5|pages=Unknown page]
Henderson's eight steals during the
1989 ALCSbroke Lou Brock's postseason record for a single series. [cite web|title=Cardinals postseason history|publisher=MLB|url=http://www.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20041002&content_id=879243&vkey=news_stl&fext=.jsp&c_id=stl|accessdate=2008-08-28|date=2004-10-02] [cite web|title=Position-by-position: Yanks in 6|publisher=USA Today|url=http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/00play/fs037.htm|date=2000-10-10|accessdate=2008-08-28] His record for the most postseason stolen bases was broken by Kenny Lofton's 34th career steal during the 2007 ALCS; [cite web|title=Kenny Lofton sets postseason record for stolen bases|publisher=ESPN|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=mlb&id=3066983|date=2007-10-27|accessdate=2008-08-28] however, Lofton accomplished his total in 95 postseason games as compared to Henderson's 60. [cite web|title=Career Batting Postseason Leaders|url=http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/leaders_career_bat.shtml|accessdate=2008-08-28|publisher=Baseball-Reference.com] Henderson is the only American Leagueplayer to steal more than 100 bases in a single season. [cite web|title=Single Season Leaders for Stolen Bases in the American League|publisher=Baseball Almanac|accessdate=2008-08-26|url=http://www.baseball-almanac.com/hitting/hisb2al.shtml] , and he is the all-time stolen base leader for two different franchises: the Oakland A's [cite web|title=Celebrating 40 Years of Oakland Athletics|publisher=MLB|url=http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/oak/fan_forum/anniversary.jsp|accessdate=2008-08-29] and the New York Yankees.
In 1999, before breaking the career records for runs scored and walks, Henderson was ranked number 51 on "
The Sporting News"' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. In 2005, " The Sporting News" updated their 100 Greatest Players list, and Henderson had inched up to number 50. [cite web |url=http://www.baseball-almanac.com/legendary/lisn100.shtml|title=Baseball's 100 Greatest Players|author=|accessdate=2008-02-17 |format= |publisher=Baseball Almanac ] Asked to choose the best player in history, Henderson declined, saying, "There are guys who have done different things very well, but I don't know of anyone who mastered everything." Offered the chance to assess his own placement among the game's greats, he said, "I haven't mastered the homers or RBI. The little things, I probably mastered." Of his various records and achievements, Henderson values his career runs scored mark the most: "You have to score to win."
3000 hit club
List of Major League Baseball players with 2000 hits
List of top 500 Major League Baseball home run hitters
List of Major League Baseball leaders in career stolen bases
List of Major League Baseball players with 400 doubles
List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBIs
List of Major League Baseball players with 300 stolen bases
List of Major League Baseball runs scored champions
List of Major League Baseball stolen base champions
Major League Baseball titles leaders
* [http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/baseball/archive/2005/08/rickey_the_earl.shtml Manager Tom Trebelhorn on Henderson's minor league days]
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