Rickey Henderson played in San Diego for almost three full seasons, and Rickey being Rickey, naturally set records as a Padre, entertaining the baseball world.
Rickey Henderson was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame on July 26th, and in his induction speech, Henderson hit upon the exact reason he was a great signing for the Padres, his drive to be the best.
Said Rickey, "I love the game of baseball. That's why it was so hard for me to walk away from the game. I thought if Satchel Paige can still play in major league baseball at the age of 45, then with my dedication, hard work and desire, I can play the game until my body said it was time to hang it up."
Henderson could still probably help some of the less talented teams in Baseball today, but his return is unlikely now.
Why Rickey is not the base running coach here in San Diego, is a mystery beyond my ability to comprehend. Rickey equals free press.
Tons of it, just like this.
Rickey came to the Padres from the Oakland Athletics in 1996, signing a two year, $4 million contract. Henderson's signing showed an aggressive attitude by the Padres new president, Larry Lucchino.
Lucchino knew that Rickey was closing in on several records, and what better way to get some exposure for the Padres, having Rickey set those records in San Diego. Brilliant.
If only the Padres had continued to use this philosophy...
Henderson had plenty of game left, and was among the National League statistical top 10 in several categories, during his first season as a Padre.
His enthusiasm for the game was just what the rebuilding Padres needed.
Henderson extended his streak of having at least 30 steals in a season to 17 with his performance as a Padre. Henderson helped lead the Padres to their first division title since 1984. Padre fans embraced Henderson as one of their own, from the first day that Rickey played here in San Diego.
Rickey took great delight in taunting Cardinal fans during the 1996 National League Divisional Series, leading them in booing Rickey.
Henderson led by example, and the Padres won games they had no business winning in 1996, with Rickey showing how its done, old school style.
Padre closer Trevor Hoffman knew he was a part of baseball history, saying "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."
Ryan Hancock and Stevenson Agosto.
That's who the Padres got in trade for Rickey Freakin Henderson. A future first vote Hall of Fame player, for Ryan Hancock and Stevenson Agosto.
If any of you readers can tell me anything these guys did as Padres, you are much smarter than I.
In Trade terms, the Padres got hosed. If I am listening to offers for Rickey, you had better be prepared to back up the truck. That was a give away.
Henderson left Anaheim after the 1997 season ended, and signed in Oakland again for the 1998 season. I never agreed with letting Rickey go, and I still don't understand why the Padres did it. Henderson was aging, but the intangibles Rickey brought to the table were irreplaceable.
Henderson returned to the Padres for the 2001 season, and Rickey did not disappoint in his second stint in San Diego, setting the MLB all time record for runs scored. Henderson passed legendary spikester Ty Cobb's record, which was set way back in 1928,. Henderson scored his 2,246th run, with a solo home run.
Henderson slid headfirst into home plate to celebrate the feat.
Said Henderson at the time "Going out and scoring so many runs, it's just not an individual record, It's a record that you've got to have your teammates help you out. Over 23 years, I have had some great teammates who have battled for me, have knocked me in and I've come across the plate to achieve this record."
Having Henderson set the record as a Padre was a great moment, and getting to watch Rickey play in the same outfield as fellow Hall Of Famer Tony Gwynn was a privilege that will never come again.
Henderson took the time to remember some of those who helped him in his long career, during his induction speech last week.
Said Rickey, "To the Haas family, Mr. Wolf of the Oakland A's, the City of Oakland, John Morris of the San Diego Padres, George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees and the other general managers and owners of major League baseball teams, I would not be here or the player that I became. Thank you for giving me the chance to play the game that I love so much."
We should ALL get such solid support... A good boss can make all the difference, everybody works hard, but its not always appreciated the way that it should be. Henderson's entire career is living proof that given support from the top, great things can happen. When he signed as a Padre, Henderson knew that management had his back., and he could just go out and play his game. The results speak for themselves.
Rickey dug deep into his memories while giving his Hall of Fame induction speech. He reflected on his childhood, and even had a Reggie Jackson story to tell.
Said Henderson, "As a kid growing up in Oakland, my heroes were Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson. What about that Reggie Jackson? I stand out on the ballpark in the parking lot waiting for Reggie Jackson to give me an autograph. Reggie used to come out all the time and I'd say, "Reggie, can I have an autograph?" He would pass me a pen with his name on it. He never gave me an autograph."
Now Reggie can ask for Rickey's autograph instead.
Henderson continued, "In 1976, my first year in the minor league, my coach, Tom Treblehorn, helped me develop my skill in base running and taught me to play the game hard. I had not perfected how to take a lead or how to slide. Tom asked me to come to practice early every day and work on my sliding and base running skill. I guess, Tom, that hard
work paid off for me, and I am very grateful".
"In June of 1979, I received a call from Charlie O. Finley. He wanted me to play in the big league for the Oakland A's. That was the most thrilling time of my life, playing the game that I loved in my home town in front of my family and friends was a dream come true. Charlie, wherever you at, and that donkey, I want to say thank you for the opportunity."
Given Rickey's obvious talent, I am sure that someone would have picked up on it eventually.
Later on, Henderson finished up, "In my career, I had the good fortune to play for nine teams. It was wonderful because this allowed me to meet fans all over the country. It's the fans that makes the game fun. To all the fans, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your wonderful support over all these years."
"I would like to thank everyone here and all over the country for sharing this special moment with me and my family. To all the kids out there: Follow your dream. Believe in your dream. Because dreams do come true."
"When you think of me, I would like you to remember that kid from the inner city that played the game with all of his heart and never took the game for granted. Thanks to everyone here for making my dream come true today."
"In closing, I would like to say my favorite hero was Mohammad Ali. He said at one time, "I am the greatest." That is something I always wanted to be. And now that the Association has voted me into the Baseball Hall of Fame, my journey as a player is complete. I am now in the class of the greatest players of all time. And at this moment, I am very, very humble. Thank you."
And Thank You Rickey!!!
( I set a personal record for most Rickey's in one story. )
On behalf of Padre fans everywhere—Rickey Rules!!!
Rickey Henderson holds the following all time MLB records:
Stolen bases 1,406
Caught stealing 335
Runs scored 2,295
Games led off with a home run 81
Unintentional walks 2,129
Stolen bases in a season 130 1982
Caught stealing in a season 42 1982
Stolen bases in a single postseason series 8 1989 ALCS
American League stolen bases leader 12 1980–86, 1988–91, 1998
Major league stolen base leader 6 1980, 1982–83, 1988–89, 1998
Major league runs scored leader 5 1981, 1985–86, 1989–90
American League walks leader 4 1982–83, 1989, 1998
Major league on-base percentage leader 1 1990
American League hits leader 1 1981
World Series Titles 2 1989 Oakland A's, 1993 Toronto Blue Jays
American League MVP 1990
American League Championship Series MVP 1989
Ten-time All-Star 1980, 1982–88, 1990–91
Gold Glove for the Outfield 1981
Three-Time Silver Slugger for Outfield 1981, 1985, 1990
The Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year Award 1999