Congratulations to Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice for being elected to the Hall of Fame. Today was a day of great personal fulfillment for me. I saw both careers in their entirety. When I was a kid, I saw Mays, Aaron and McCovey make the Hall of Fame. I knew these players were great, but I only remember the very ends of their careers. They all started playing before I was born. Then there were players like George Brett and Mike Schmidt. I was a kid when they started playing, so I was aware of their entire careers, but I couldn't appreciate the first part because I wasn't a regular fan at the ballpark to see them.
Rice came just a few years later, but I was aware enough of his whole career. I saw Rickey Henderson's entire career. I sat in the front row of the left field bleachers in Oakland behind him so many times I couldn't count. He was right in front of me. When the Red Sox came to Oakland, I sat right behind Rice. I heckled him to no avail. He was the only visiting left fielder ever to have enough respect that fans didn't heckle him. I tried, and nobody laughed. The best somebody could do was to say, "Hey, Rice, you're a Chinese side dish!" He turned and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, "How lame was that?"
I've seen Rice as an on-the-fence Hall of Famer, but Henderson was a true HOF'er anyway you look at it. One question, though. He received 511 of 539 votes. What in the flying flip were the other 28 sports writers thinking? I just don't get that. They shouldn't be allowed to vote if they get this one wrong. Thank you Rickey and Jimbo for all the great memories. You are appreciated.