Oakland A’s: Remembering Rickey Henderson’s greatness
By David Hill
Rickey Henderson completely changed the game. Let’s look back at the Oakland A’s legend on his 62nd birthday.
We may never see another player quite like Rickey Henderson. He was a formidable presence on the basepaths, the idea of him leading from any base enough to give catchers nightmares. While there were plenty of other speedsters during Henderson’s time, none were the same type of player, as he combined his solid power to become a completely different leadoff hitter than the game had ever seen before.
Henderson’s numbers do not even tell the full story. The MLB career leader with 2295 runs scored and 1406 stolen bases, Henderson also accumulated 3055 hits and 297 homers while producing a .279/.401/.419 batting line. He led the league in steals 12 times, with that final time happening when he was 39 years old.
Understandably, he received quite a few accolades during his career. A ten time All Star and three time Silver Slugger, Henderson was also named the 1990 AL MVP and finished in the top three two other times. The Hall of Fame came calling in 2009, with Henderson joining the ranks of the immortals.
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Although known for his speed, Henderson’s power put him in elite company. He is one of four players to hit a home run in four different decades in the majors, joining Ted Williams and Willie McCovey as the only players that had done so. Omar Vizquel later joined that group.
His stolen base record is likely one of the few truly unbreakable records in the game. Imagine a player stealing 60 bases a season for 23 years. That player would still come up short of Henderson’s 1406 steals. As the game has changed, and teams have moved away from making the stolen base a key part of their offense, Henderson’s record is safe.
He was also known for his different persona. Henderson referred to himself in the third person at all times, a trait that rubbed many the wrong way. He was also known for his different stories, such as not cashing his first million dollar check because he had it framed on his wall. Or when Henderson missed two games due to frostbite – in August.
There will never be another player like Rickey Henderson. Happy birthday to the Oakland A’s legend.