(In honor of Rickey Henderson being named to the Hall of Fame today, I will refer to him as Rickey and only Rickey throughout this article. There will be no pronouns in this article.)
Today the single greatest leadoff man in the history of baseball was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Rickey Henderson was voted in by appearing on almost 95 percent of the ballots. Here is my ode to Rickey, a man who changed every game he appeared in.
Sure, many of us today think of Rickey as an old man who probably stayed in the league longer than many of us think Rickey should have. Rickey played for the Newark Bears and the Portland Sea Dawgs in an effort to play in Major League Baseball again. But Rickey was better than that. Rickey kept playing because Rickey loved the game.
Rickey was being Rickey way before Manny was being Manny. Rickey Henderson was known for standing in front of the clubhouse mirror naked saying, "You the man Rickey."
Rickey once spoke to John Olerud saying Rickey had played with a man who wore a batting helmet in the field before. Little did Rickey know both times it was John Olerud whom Rickey had played with on the same team on two occasions. Rickey spoke to Rickey's bats and was never shy when speaking to the media.
Rickey was a 10-time All-Star, being selected in 1980, 1982-1988, 1990, and 1991—six times as an Oakland Athletic and four as a member of the New York Yankees.
Rickey won two World Series, one with the Oakland A's and one with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1989 Rickey was back in Oakland and led that team to a World Series title and won the ALCS MVP award. In 1993 Rickey was one of the players who scored on Joe Carter's legendary home run off Mitch Williams.
Rickey won three Silver Sluggers: two with the Oakland A's (1981, 1982) and one with the New York Yankees (1985). In 1981, Rickey stole one hundred bases even and walked 117 times to 54 strikeouts and hit .303. In 1982, Rickey played 50 fewer games and still managed to hit 16 points higher and had three more triples (seven).
In 1985, the bright lights of NYC didn't scare Rickey, as Rickey hit .314 (his second highest average to this point), stole 80 bases, and walked 34 more times than Rickey struck out.
Rickey was a Gold Glover in 1990 once again for the Oakland Athletics. Rickey committed five errors and had five outfield assists and had a fielding percentage of .983.
In 1990 Rickey won the AL MVP award. In that year Rickey had Rickey's best average (.325), tied Rickey's personal record with 28 homers, stole 65 bases while only being caught 10 times, walked 37 more times than struck out, and had Rickey's highest on-base percentage with .439.
In 1999, trying to show Rickey wasn't washed up, Rickey won the Comeback Player of the Year Award. In that season Rickey had the most hits Rickey had had since 1993. Rickey had 30 doubles, Rickey's most since '95. Rickey hit .315, Rickey's highest average since 1990. Rickey's OBP was the highest it had been since 1993.
Rickey holds tons of records and interesting facts. Rickey is the all-time steals leader with 1,406, and the distance between Rickey and Lou Brock, the second-place man on the list, would be in the top 50 of all-time stolen base leaders. Rickey's been caught stealing the most as well. Rickey's scored the most runs: 2,295. Rickey's led off 81 games with a homer.
Single season records include 130 steals and caught 42 times in 1982. Rickey stole eight bases in the 1989 ALCS.
When Rickey signed with the Red Sox, Rickey had more stolen bases than their entire franchise! 1,395 to 1,382. Rickey's the oldest player to start a game in center field. Rickey was Nolan Ryan's 5,000th strikeout. Rickey at Rickey's prime was so good Frank Robinson refused to throw when Rickey stole a base, because Rickey was going to be safe anyway. Why risk the throw?
Rickey obviously knew Rickey was the greatest. Bleacher Report should recognize Rickey's greatness, so Michael Mulraney wrote this article. Enjoy like Rickey would want you to.