It was announced today that Rickey Henderson received 94.8 percent of the vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and he will now be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on July 26, 2009. For me, this is thrilling news.
As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m a big fan of Rickey Henderson. In fact, back in the 1980′s, when I last played ball, Rickey Henderson was the player that I wanted to be…which is funny – because I can’t run a lick. But, I wore my stirrups just like Rickey did in the ’80′s – and had white spikes like him too. And, when I would lead-off base, I would tap my toes into the ground like Rickey did when he took his lead…
It wasn’t always this way for me. In the 1970′s, I was more of a Thurman Munson and George Brett guy. And, actually, the Brett thing stayed with me into the ’80′s as well…as I patterned my stance and swing, albeit from the right-side, after Brett. (But, for the record, during BP, I used to goof around and try and use the “young” Rickey Henderson batting stance – where he had the one-inch strike zone.) Further, once my playing days were over, in the 1990′s, I was more of a Cal Ripken and Paul O’Neill guy. But, I never lost my respect for Henderson.
Back in 2004, when Rickey Henderson was playing for the Newark Bears, I thought it would be cool to have a picture of him in his Bears’ uniform. Given Henderson’s greatness, I figured it would be like having a nice photo of Babe Ruth in his Boston Braves uniform.
So, I called the Bears and asked them if they had any photos of Rickey for sale. They put me in touch with Rickey’s personal assistant. When I spoke to his assistant, and told him that I wanted two pictures – one for my daughter, then two-years old, and one for my son, who was recently born – he asked me if I wanted them personalized, with my kids’ names. How cool is that?
So, for the last four years, both of my kid’s rooms have a picture of Rickey Henderson, in his Bears uniform, hanging on the wall – autographed by Rickey, personalized by Rickey for them…by including their name above his signature. (The photo above is the one that’s in my daughter’s room.) Someday, I hope they learn to appreciate having these pictures…when they learn more about the history of baseball.
It was nice to come home from work today, and see the kids (now 4 1/2 and 6 1/2 years old) just before they went to bed, and talk to my children about how the baseball player on their walls is now a member of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. (They understand ‘Cooperstown’ well as my daughter was there in 2003, 2005 and 2008 and my son was there in 2005 and 2008.)
Me? It was cool this evening, as I was eating dinner, to watch vintage clips of Rickey on the MLB Network. Man, in his prime, he was a treat. When he was on base, he just wrecked the game for the other team. It was amazing to see him lead-off base, and laugh at the opposing pitcher, because he knew – as well as the pitcher knew – that he could steal whenever he wanted and no one was going to stop him.
What I wouldn’t give to go back in time, to 1978, to go see Henderson as a 19-year old playing for the Jersey City A’s…as it was so close to my home at the time…but, who knew (back then)?
In any event, here’s some stuff that I’ve shared here about Rickey Henderson in the past…in case you missed it back then:
Babe Ruth, Rickey Henderson and Alex Rodiguez, to date, are the only “young superstars” to join the Yankees after establishing themselves elsewhere and then play for the Yanks for a while.
Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, Paul O’Neill, Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez are the only players who have come to the Yankees from other teams and who had a “monster” batting season while with New York.
During his time in New York, Rickey Henderson was just as good as Reggie Jackson was when he played for the Yankees.
And, Rickey Henderson is probably the greatest “superstar” player who was ever traded away from the Yankees while he was still in his prime.