Honoring Rickey Henderson and Major Sports' Top 10 Natural Athletes

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Honoring Rickey Henderson and Major Sports' Top 10 Natural Athletes

I've been an Oakland A's fan for as long as I can remember.

In 1992, my dad took me to my first A's game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. And the events that transpired will forever live in Turner family lore.

The A's got off to a horrendous start, falling behind 6-0 after Cal Ripken blasted a fourth inning grand slam. But the A's battled back to tie the score 6-6 heading into the ninth.

And with two out in the bottom of the ninth, Rickey Henderson began a slow stroll off of third base that morphed into full speed haul within two steps.

Before half the crowd knew what was going on, Rickey swiped home for the victory. From there I began a life-long appreciation for his one-of-a-kind talent, career and personality.

Rickey epitomizes a natural athlete, because he has the god-given ability to perform at a high-level on multiple sports stages. Plus, his skills combine pure power with the smoothest of ease.

During the mid-70s, Rickey owned the Bay Area high school sports scene. At Oakland Tech, he played both baseball and basketball, and was an All-American running back who received over two dozen football scholarship offers.

But he turned them down once the A's drafted him in the fourth round in 1976.

Now we all know Rickey as the best lead-off hitter, and one of the greatest players to ever step on the diamond. But he would have been great at any sport.

So in honor of my all-time favorite athlete,I would like to present my list of the top natural athletes from the past 30 years.

Why 30 years?

It's because Rickey began his professional career in 1979, plus there's just too many names to fit on such a short list.

So apologies to Jim Thorpe, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Gordie Howe, Wilt Chamberlain, Pete Maravich and Jim Brown.

Also, just remember this list contains professional athletes from the three major sports (baseball, basketball and football).


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