Henderson’s passing reminds us of baseball’s mortality

Dave Henderson is all smiles while signing for A's fans in 2000.

Dave Henderson is all smiles while signing for A’s fans in 2000.

I got a chance to connect with some of the guys I grew up with Sunday.

At the other end of the phone were Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, Sandy Alderson, Terry Steinbach and Tony La Russa.

This isn’t a case of dropping names here. These are some of the guys I talked to after the news came out that Dave Henderson, center fielder par excellence for the A’s from 1988-93 had died in Seattle at 57 of a massive heart attack.

Continue Reading


Teammates salute Dave Henderson, dead too soon at 57

Rickey Henderson (24) Dave Stewart and Dave Henderson (42).

Rickey Henderson (24) Dave Stewart and Dave Henderson (42).

Dave Henderson’s ever-present gap-toothed grin symbolized the joy with which he lived, and that’s what teammates remembered Sunday upon the news that the longtime A’s center fielder died of a massive heart attack in Seattle. He was 57.

“I never saw him have a bad day,’’ first baseman Mark McGwire said. `He’d strike out, and he’d come back to the dugout flashing that gap-toothed grin. He loved to play the game. He was a beautiful man.’’

Henderson joined the A’s in 1988 as just another player in a massive roster reorganization orchestrated by general manager Sandy Alderson, but as the former A’s general manager and current Mets’ GM said, “he was incredibly important to the run of success we had in those years.’’

Continue Reading


Steinbach suggests A’s not sweat it if Oakland winds up clinching AL West Division title off the field

The last time the A’s were in a situation at all closely resembling the one they faced today – a possible chance to clinch while not on the field – was in 1992.

Back then, the A’s had a day off at home, but the second-place Twins were playing. A loss and the A’s would be in the post-season.

On Saturday, the A’s were in the spot where they had to win a day game on the West Coast against the Twins, then the second-place Rangers had to lose a night game in Kansas City.

One of the players who was on that 1992 team, catcher Terry Steinbach, is now the bench coach for the Twins, and he said that if the A’s don’t get the chance to celebrate on the field, don’t obsess about it.

“One thing I learned from Tony (then-A’s manager Tony La Russa) was that there are three goals you set at the start of every season,’’ Steinbach said Saturday morning. “When you win the division, no matter when you win it or where you are when you win it, you’ve accomplished the first of those.

“Maybe they won’t get a chance to jump up and down on the field after clinching. But the important thing is that they’ve clinched. And one game doesn’t change the importance of what you’ve done for six months. Tony always said this was the hardest of the three things to do, they need to enjoy that they’ve done it.’’

The second task is to win the division series and the third is to win the Championship Series. If that’s done, you’ve gotten to the World Series. Those games will take care of themselves.

Steinbach has some memories of sitting with his teammates in a rented private room of a bar/restaurant near Jack London Square back in 1992. When the Twins lost that night, the celebrating wasn’t quite the same. But it was still a celebration.

“I remember sitting and watching the game with Carney (Lansford) and a bunch of the guys,’’ he said. “When it was over, it was great. It wasn’t any less of an accomplishment because we didn’t win it on the field.

“These guys (the A’s), they should know that. They’ve had a great year.’’