Rickey Henderson will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame today (July 26, 2009). Even though it was announced that he was voted in back on January 12th, I could not let this day past without at least recognizing it in a small way. You see, Rickey is my favorite baseball player of all time and I could probably make this one of the longest issues of Kickin' it Old School if I wanted to with all of the things I could say about him. I won't put you through all of that and I will give you an abbreviated version.
It is commonly agreed on that Rickey Henderson is the greatest leadoff hitter of all time, but I will go as far to say that he is one of the greatest offensive baseball players of all time, period. Rickey rubbed some people the wrong way, but to me he was simply the greatest. Some people considered him a hot dog or cocky, but when you can back it up I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. He changed the game in a way no player before him really had or any player since him for that matter. There is a great tribute to Rickey being aired right now on the MLB Network titled Rickey Henderson: Leadoff Legend which is very much worth watching for any baseball fans out there. You can find it on YouTube as well (divided into eight parts).
Rickey Henderson began his major league career in 1979 and went on to dominate the 80s and much of the 90s before finally reluctantly calling it quits after the 2003 season. Rickey is the all-time leader in career stolen bases with 1,406 and career runs scored with 2,295. If you ask him which he thinks is more impressive, he will say the runs scored because "You have to score to win." Rickey also holds the record for most home runs to lead off a game with 81 demonstrating another way that he could quickly change a game and the uncommon combination of skills that he possessed.
Rickey broke Lou Brock's single season record for stolen bases (118) back in 1982 when he ended up with 130 and his career record (938) back in 1991. Here is a link to watch the MLB video of the great moment when Rickey stole number 939. He retired with an amazing 468 more stolen bases than Brock who is still in second place on the list. During the 2001 season, Henderson broke three major league career records and reached an additional major career milestone. He broke Babe Ruth's record of 2,062 career walks (which had stood since 1935 & since broken by Barry Bonds), Ty Cobb's record of 2,246 career runs (which had stood since 1928), and Zack Wheat's record of 2,328 career games in left field (which had stood since 1927) and on the final day of the season collected his 3,000th career hit. Rickey ended his career with an on-base percentage of .401 which a statistic that is both underrated and under-reported. He led the league in stolen bases 13 times and averaged over 100 runs scored per season for his entire career. Simply amazing!
Rickey Henderson is a 2x World Series champion (1989 with Oakland and 1993 with Toronto) and was a major contributor to both of those titles. He was the 1990 American League MVP and a 10x All-Star during his illustrious 25-year career. I read a particular quote that I really liked from current Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman who was a teammate of Henderson's in San Diego (and a futer Hall-of-Famer himself), "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." I whole-heartedly agree that Rickey deserves to be in that group of the greatest to ever play the game.
Here is a short video that was produced by a California newspaper regarding Henderson's entrance into the Hall of Fame...
So today, Rickey Henderson will take his rightful spot among the greatest baseball players of all time. The only thing that delayed this day from coming was Rickey's refusal to retire from the game he loved to play. I still cannot believe he was not a unanimous choice for the HOF though he did receive 94.8% of the vote. Those voters that did not choose Rickey should have their voting priviledges taken away from them (and their eyes checked). Rickey is known for talking about himself in the third person and having some interesting speeches and interviews, so his induction speech is highly anticipated. For me, it is highly anticipated for many reasons and the best is that he was my baseball hero growing up. In my opinion, Rickey Henderson was definitely the greatest baseball player of the 80s and even moreso, I would say he was one of the elite baseball players of all time. Like I said, I could have gone on and on about how great a ball player Henderson was, but I will end it with this simple statement. Congratulations, Rickey on your career achievement and thank you for being my baseball hero all these years.
That will do it for this Hall of Fame issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading. If you are interested in reading any of my other 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on "Become a Fan". Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. You can also now follow Old School on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.
Check this out: I did an entire issue on "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" back on Rupert Holmes' last birthday. You should definitely go back and check that one out if you missed it. Now, there is a Taco Bell commercial I like that has been playing for the last couple of months that uses that song. I thought I would share that with you here in case you have not fully appreciated it yet...
Quote of the day: When asked if he thought Rickey Henderson was a Hall of Famer, statistician and baseball historian Bill James replied, "If you could split him in two, you'd have two Hall of Famers."
posted by: Slappy (reply)
post date: 07.27.09 (1:40 am)
Rickey is a brilliant ballplayer, thank you for this post.
posted by: bawdy (reply)
post date: 07.27.09 (11:43 pm)
I hated him when he played for Oakland but had no choice but to root for him when he was a Jay. He sure was a terror on the base paths and every at bat was an adventure. He definitely deserved first ballot induction.
Got a large charge out of the Pina Colada!! song and commercial!!! Thanks!!!
posted by: Campinggear (reply)
post date: 08.02.10 (11:33 pm)
Brilliant stuff! Your article is really good, Im glad you took the time to share it.Thanks for sharing your opinion.
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