Congrats, Rickey

There are certain athletes who immediately take you back to your childhood when you hear their names mentioned. Rickey Henderson is one of those for me, perhaps more so than any player. So while there’s a pile of different stats available to justify his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, those mental snapshots of watching him play have an even bigger impact for me. If you’re around my age (33) and grew up a baseball fan in the Bay Area, you might feel the same.

Rickey was in his first stint with the A’s — wearing No. 35 then, not 24 — when I first remember going to the Coliseum. He was in left field, Dwayne Murphy in center, Tony Armas in right. And while I’m sure I didn’t grasp just how special a player he was yet, I knew he was unique: From the crouching batting stance, to the wristbands, to the way he carried himself on the field. I’d mimic his stance while playing Wiffle ball with friends and realize that A) It actually hurt to contort your body like that, and B) somehow Rickey managed he hit the ball very hard that way. I’m sure a lot of you also had the poster that Mizuno put out after he broke Lou Brock’s single-season stolen base mark in 1982: Rickey, looking into the camera with his cleats slung over his shoulder and the words “119 and counting” underneath. A classic.

Anyway, you’ll read plenty tomorrow about his HOF induction, and you don’t need me to tell you how special he was. But when an athlete registers that kind of impact w/you, it’s worth sharing. If anyone has any favorite Rickey moments of their own, let’s hear them …

Joe Stiglich