This year’s Hall of Fame ballot will include Rickey Henderson. “Rickey”, as he refers to himself should be a first ballot selection, and the numbers have no problem backing that up. The persona he portrayed around and away from the game could just as easily influence his chance of being selected as it could deter it. Henderson was as well-known around the league for talking to himself and spouting quotes as he was for his unparalleled base stealing ability and great bat speed. If I had a vote, and I don’t, I would select “The Man of Steal” without hesitation.
Rickey was the 1990 American League MVP, a 10-time All-Star, he ranks first in career runs scored, second in walks… and oh yeah, he stole 1406 bases during his career to rank first, and led the league in that category a remarkable 12-times. Even Rickey referred to himself as “the greatest of all time”.
We loved Rickey, because Rickey was f’n crazy. Want to know how out of this world Rickey Henderson really (is) was? Check this small sample of Rickey stories and quotes:
* Supposedly, during Rickey’s first stint with the Oakland Athletics, he asked a teammate how long he thought it would take him (Rickey) to drive to the Dominican Republic.
* Henderson was notoriously heard talking to himself. When a reporter asked him if he spoke to himself, he responded with the following: “Do I talk to myself? No, I just remind myself of what I’m trying to do. You know, I never answer myself so how can I be talking to myself?â€
* Another one from his days with the Athletics in the 80’s: The Oakland accounting department noticed that their books were off by $1,000,000. It was later determined that Rickey Henderson had not cashed a million dollar check he received as a bonus; he had framed it and hung it on his wall.
* Remember when Ken Caminiti estimated that at least 50% of Major League Baseball players were using steroids? When Rickey was asked what his thoughts were on the comment, he replied with; “Well, Rickey’s not one of them, so that’s 49 percent right there.â€
* Following the 2001 season with the San Diego Padres, where Rickey at age 42 hit only .226 but still swiped 25 bases, General Manager Kevin Towers claimed he received the following voice mail message from Rickey; “This is Rickey calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball.â€
Reporters with a minimum 10 years of consecutive service to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America are eligible to vote on the Hall of Fame ballot, the results will be announced on January 12th. Run Rickey run.