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"But it wasn't until I saw Rickey that I understood what baseball was about. Rickey Henderson is a run, man. That's it. When you see Rickey Henderson, I don't care when, the score's already 1-0. If he's with you, that's great. If he's not, you won't like it."
- A's teammate Mitchell Page

Rickey Henley Henderson was born on December 25, 1958, in Chicago, Illinois. I am assuming that sometime between then and high school his family moved out to Oakland, California, for Rickey graduated from Oakland's Technical High School in 1976. There he played baseball, basketball and football. After graduating, Rickey received several offers and scholarships to play football, but Rickey turned them down. Rickey was drafted late in the June draft, in the 4th round, by the Oakland Athletics. In 1977 he played for Modesto in the California League, and had a then record 95 stolen bases and became the 4th professional baseball player to steal 7 bases in one game! Rickey would make his Major League Baseball debut on June 23, 1979. The next day he would steal his first of over 1400 bases.

His first full season was in 1980, and he started it off running. He broke Ty Cobb's single season American League stolen base record of 96 with an even 100 bases. In 1982 he set the single season record for stolen bases in the Majors with a whopping 130, shattering the previous record of 118 held by Lou Brock. However, Rickey would also set the Major League record for the most times caught stealing in a single season with 42. People appropriately enough started to refer to Henderson as The Man of Steal. Rickey's first tenure with the A's would come to a halt as he was traded to the New York Yankees alongside pitcher Bert Bradley for pitchers Jay Howell and Jose Rijo, outfielder Stan Javier, as well as minor leaguers Tim Birtsas and Eric Plunk.

Even though he was playing for a different team, it was the same old Rickey. On September 25, 1985, Rickey stole his 75th base of the season, breaking the Yankees record held by Fritz Maisel set back in 1914. In 1986, he became the only player since former Yankee Mickey Mantle to lead the American League in runs for consecutive seasons. He also led the league in steals for the 7th consecutive season. However, the 1987 season would be a rocky one for Rickey, as he suffered through various pulls and strains. On June 20, 1989, he was traded back to Oakland for Eric Plunk, Greg Cadaret and Luis Polonia.

Rickey helped the A's to dominate the late 80's and early 90's. His speed and ability to get on base helped the bash brothers drive in runs for the powerhouse A's. In 1989, Rickey was named the AL playoff MVP, and in the following year, he was named the Season MVP. On May 29, 1990, in his 11th season, Rickey Henderson stole base number 893, surpassing Ty Cobb as the All-Time AL leader. In less than a year, Rickey would break Lou Brock's all time record of 938 steals, and then go on to leave it far behind. It would take henderson two more seasons to surpass Yutaka Fukumoto, a player in the Japanese Leagues from 1970 to 1988 who held the World's Record of 1,065 career stolen bases. Rickey would need 4 fewer seasons to accomplish the feat. Can you say future hall of famer boys and girls? I knew you could.

He was traded to Toronto Blue Jays on July 31, 1993 for minor leagers Steve Karsay and Jose Herrera. On July 5th of that year, Rickey became the second player in MLB history to leadoff both games of a double header with a homerun, the player to do it before him was Harry Hooper for the Boston Red Sox, back in 1913. The two would later be joined by Baltimore Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson.

On August 13, 1993, Rickey gave teammate Turner Ward $25,000 to have number 24 on his back again. He claimed he wasn't hitting well as number 14. It wouldn't matter too much as on December 17, 1993, Rickey would be signed by the A's, for the third time. Rickey only played two years for the A's before he was signed by the San Diego Padres on December 29, 1995. He signed on for two years. On August 13, 1997, the Anaheim Angels would trade pitchers Ryan Hancock and Steven Agosto for the Style Dog. He would only play a short time for the Angels and the Athletics would pick Rickey up from the seas of free agency. This would mark the fourth different time Rickey played for the A's, a major league record. On September 27, 1998 Rickey Henderson becomes the oldest stolen base leader in major league history as he stole an American League leading 66 bases. Later in that year, free agent Rickey Henderson would sign with the New York Mets.

Rickey was a Met for two years before being released on May 13, 2000. Five days later he would be picked up by the Seattle Mariners. A month and a half before he would be traded, Rickey Henderson would join the Splendid Splinter as the only player to steal a base in four different decades. Later Tim Raines would join the two. On May 23, 2000 Rickey Henderson drew his 2,000th career walk, becoming the third player to do so, behind Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.

On March 19, 2001 the Padres sign Rickey Henderson and send him to Triple-A to get in shape. It is Rickey's first time in the minors since a 3-game rehab 16 years ago. Rickey became the all-time runs leader on October 4, 2001.

Like other great sports players Rickey has been known to slip into the third person at times. While he's not The Rock who refers to himself all the time, I wouldn't even consider him Bob Dole in his amount of third personage. Then again, no one uses it as much as The Rock, except for maybe Caesar, who originated the whole darn thing. After all "Rickey wants to play another year and he thinks he wants to play for you." Needless to say, much fun has been poked at Rickey over some of his more memorable quotes, as Orange Julius points out below.

Rickey has had a Hall of Fame career. I'd be surprised if there isn't a place set aside in Cooperstown for him already. He is the all-time leader in steals with 1402 at the time of this write up. He led the American League in steals a record 12 times. He leads the majors in runs with 2278, walks with 2168, and lead off home runs, with over 77. He will be the only player who has played on 8 teams (or more) who is in, or is an active player with a chance of getting into the hall of fame. Rickey was on the American League All Star Team in 1980, and from 1982 to 1991, a total of 11 times. He also won a Gold Glove for his fielding efforts in 1981.

Rickey was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009, his first year of eligibility. He received 94.8% of the vote.

Statistics:

Number: 24 most often; also 14 and 35
Position: Left Field
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 190
Bats: Right
Throws: Left

Season  Team   G   AB  R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS
1979    Oak   89  351  49  96 13   3   1   26  34  39  33  11 .274 .338 .336  .674
1980    Oak  158  591 111 179 22   4   9   53 117  54 100  26 .303 .420 .399  .819
1981    Oak  108  423  89 135 18   7   6   35  64  68  56  22 .319 .408 .437  .845
1982    Oak  149  536 119 143 24   4  10   51 116  94 130  42 .267 .398 .382  .780
1983    Oak  145  513 105 150 25   7   9   48 103  80 108  19 .292 .414 .421  .835
1984    Oak  142  502 113 147 27   4  16   58  86  81  66  18 .293 .399 .458  .857
1985    NYY  143  547 146 172 28   5  24   72  99  65  80  10 .314 .419 .516  .935
1986    NYY  153  608 130 160 31   5  28   74  89  81  87  18 .263 .358 .469  .827
1987    NYY   95  358  78 104 17   3  17   37  80  52  41   8 .291 .423 .497  .920
1988    NYY  140  554 118 169 30   2   6   50  82  54  93  13 .305 .394 .399  .793
1989    NYY   65  235  41  58 13   1   3   22  56  29  25   8 .247 .392 .349  .741
1989    Oak   85  306  72  90 13   2   9   35  70  39  52   6 .294 .425 .438  .863
1990    Oak  136  489 119 159 33   3  28   61  97  60  65  10 .325 .439 .577 1.016
1991    Oak  134  470 105 126 17   1  18   57  98  73  58  18 .268 .400 .423  .823
1992    Oak  117  396  77 112 18   3  15   46  95  56  48  11 .283 .426 .457  .883
1993    Oak   90  318  77 104 19   1  17   47  85  46  31   6 .327 .469 .553 1.022
1993    Tor   44  163  37  35  3   1   4   12  35  19  22   2 .215 .356 .319  .675
1994    Oak   87  296  66  77 13   0   6   20  72  45  22   7 .260 .411 .365  .776
1995    Oak  112  407  67 122 31   1   9   54  72  66  32  10 .300 .407 .447  .854
1996     SD  148  465 110 112 17   2   9   29 125  90  37  15 .241 .410 .344  .754
1997     SD   88  288  63  79 11   0   6   27  71  62  29   4 .274 .422 .375  .797
1997    Ana   32  118  21  21  3   0   2    7  26  23  16   4 .183 .343 .291  .604
1998    Oak  152  542 101 128 16   1  14   57 118 114  66  13 .236 .376 .347  .723
1999    NYM  121  438  89 138 30   0  12   42  82  82  37  14 .315 .423 .466  .889
2000    NYM   31   96  17  21  1   0   0    2  25  20   5   2 .219 .387 .229  .616
2000    Sea   92  324  58  77 13   2   4   30  63  55  31   9 .238 .362 .327  .689
2001     SD  123  379  70  86 17   3   8   42  81  84  25   7 .227 .366 .351  .717


Sources:
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/stats?statsId=1650
http://www.geocities.com/stolenbaseking/
http://www.infoplease.com/ipsa/A0109272.html
http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Dugout/2543/
http://espn.go.com/page2/s/questions/rhenderson.html
http://www.users.csbsju.edu/~sjfische/rickey.html
http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/H/Henderson_Rickey.stm
http://www.thebaseballpage.com/past/pp/hendersonrickey/default.htm

Major League Baseball Hall of Fame
Harry Heilmann | Rickey Henderson | Billy Herman

One thing you should know about Rickey Henderson... is that if anyone tells you that Rickey is a selfish player, or that he's a "cancer in the clubhouse", or any of that nonsense... they don't know a thing about Rickey Henderson. Does Rickey have a high opinion of himself? Yes. Does he say goofy shit from time to time? Yes. But this is a guy who plays for $3,000 a month in the Atlantic League, picks up balls during BP, and gives all of the free equipment and apparel that he gets to his teammates. He is also one of the quirkiest and most quotable players since Yogi Berra...


Rickey... on referring to himself in the third person

"Listen: People are always saying, 'Rickey says Rickey.' But it's been blown way out of proportion. People might catch me, when they know I'm ticked off, saying, 'Rickey, what the heck are you doing, Rickey?' They say, 'Darn, Rickey, what are you saying Rickey for? Why don't you just say, 'I?' But I never did. I always said, 'Rickey,' and it become something for people to joke about."


Henderson once received a $1 million dollar signing bonus from the Oakland A's. When a few months later the accounting department found their balance sheets off by about, oh, a million dollars, they asked Rickey about it. He had framed the check and hung it on his wall without cashing it.


Rickey... to himself, after swinging and missing at a pitch

"That's not how Rickey swings."


Henderson boarded the team bus in San Diego and was scouting out a seat. Outfielder Steve Finley told him that he had tenure and could sit anywhere he wanted. "Ten years? What are you talking about? Rickey got 16, 17 years."


Rickey... to his bats

"Which one of you bad boys got some hits in you?"


Henderson once missed a game because of frostbite... in August. Rickey fell asleep with an ice pack on. Still, it's not quite as bad as Kevin Mitchell, who once injured himself while eating a cupcake.


Rickey... on contract negotiations

"All I'm asking for is what I want!"


In an early spring game in 2000, Henderson hit a long fly ball and broke into a home run trot. The ball bounced off the wall and Rickey was held to a single. When asked about it after the game, Rickey replied, "I hit it out, but it didn't go out."


Rickey... on the answering machine of Padres' GM Kevin Towers

"Dude! This is Rickey! Representin' Rickey! Dude, you need an outfielder! You need to sign me!"


The Padres held a 14-7 lead in a meaningless game against the Mets, and Rickey was sent up to pinch hit in the eighth inning. Henderson came to the plate, hit a two run home run, immediately disappeared into the clubhouse, changed, and left the stadium. The reason for his departure? "I had to get to this Chinese restaurant," he said. "They closed at midnight. Best Chinese food I've ever had." Rickey went to praise the fine sushi the restaurant served. It was a Japanese restaurant.


Rickey... on diet

"There's a way to eat. You can eat anything you want to eat. But you can never overstuff yourself. Well, that's the key to it all. If you eat a... grape, and you hadn't had nothin' all day, almost, and you ate a grape, and it busted in your stomach and you felt full, you shouldn't eat nothin' else until that grape wears off."


Rickey... on sharing his birthday with Christmas

"I used to get cheated. Now the rule is they got to bring me two presents. I don't care if it's the smallest thing in the world, you gotta get me two. My kids say, 'We don't know what to get you!' They say I already got everything. Naw, I don't care if you go out and get me bubble gum. But you gotta get me two bubble gums, you can't get just one. I been cheated too long!"


Henderson always checks into hotels under a pseudonym to avoid attracting attention. When the Padres needed to contact him, Towers and his aid took turns guessing Rickey's pseudonym. After several incorrect guesses, Towers finally got the name right. To avoid attracting attention, Rickey had checked into the hotel as Richard Pryor.


Rickey... on travel...

"How long will it take me to drive to the Dominican (Republic)?"


Henderson, who played with the Red Sox in 2002, called the team on a Thursday to ask if he could get tickets for Game Six of the 2004 World Series. When told there was no game, Rickey asked, "Why?". The Red Sox had completed a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals the night before Rickey's phone call.


Rickey... on how many times he'd slid headfirst in his career

"Oh, man, Rickey done dove headfirst a lot!"


And the final story, although probably the best, is also untrue...

Rickey Henderson signed with the Seattle Mariners in late May 2000. Shortly after joining the team, he approached John Olerud and asked him why he was wearing a batting helmet on the field. Olerud was a bit puzzled by the question, but told Rickey that he had a brain aneurysm when he was nine, and a sharply hit ball to the head could kill him without the helmet. "I used to play with a dude in New York who had the same problem," Rickey said. To which Olerud replied, "I know, Rickey. That was me."


Culled from various sources

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