Monday, January 5, 2009

Rickey Henderson - First Ballot Hall of Famer

Rickey Henderson is a first ballot, unanimous Hall of Famer. He better be, and any sports writer who doesn't vote for him is a numb skull or an antisocial psychopath.

When I think of a Hall of Famer, I think of somebody who is instantly recognized as one. There is no doubt. A Hall of Famer is a player who changes the way the game is played simply by setting foot on the field. He strikes fear into the other team. He causes the players on the other team to bring extra pairs of clean underwear to the park.

Here's a logical progression: getting on base, stealing, and scoring a run. Rickey Henderson was at one time the all time walks leader. He was the all time stolen base leader. He was also the all time runs scored leader. So the obvious solution to this problem so far is to under no circumstances walk Rickey. But that solution doesn't help at all when you consider that he's also the all time record holder in lead-off home runs. When the opposing pitcher wakes up in the morning, he knows the first batter he will face is Rickey Henderson. Once Rickey finally takes a seat on the bench after his at bat, there is a higher likelihood for him than the 15-20,000 other players who have ever played the game that the score will be 1-0. You wake up knowing you can't pitch to him, and you can't pitch around him. There's nothing you can do. Your only hope is the possibility that the rest of Rickey's team has such a bad day as to make up for him.

I had the distinct privilege as a fan to witness a major portion of his career from the front row of the left field bleachers in Oakland. I personally witnessed the Chicken Stanley incident, talked to him from the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, and witnessed the final play of the World Series that got him a ring. Rickey Henderson is a Hall of Famer. Period.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite players........all time.

    Impact player. Quirky personality. Great to watch play.