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Rickey being Rickey: the greatest of all time

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Congratulations to Rickey Henderson, arguably the greatest lead-off hitter of all time, on his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame today.

As someone who grew up watching baseball in the 1970s and 1980s, Henderson was just amazing. Here’s what Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski wrote on his blog about Henderson:

“I’m about give you one of my all-time favorite statistics: Rickey Henderson walked 796 times in his career LEADING OFF AN INNING. Think about this again. There would be nothing, absolutely nothing, a pitcher would want to avoid more than walking Rickey Henderson to lead off an inning. And yet he walked SEVEN HUNDRED NINETY SIX times to lead off an inning.
He walked more times just leading off in an inning than Lou Brock, Roberto Clemente, Luis Aparicio, Ernie Banks, Kirby Puckett, Ryne Sandberg and more than 50 other Hall of Famers walked in their entire careers…I simply cannot imagine a baseball statistic more staggering.”

Of course, Henderson is known not just for his on-the-field accomplishments, but his quirky behavior off the field. Some of the stories about Rickey are true (“tenure?”, framing a million dollar check) and some are apocryphal (the John Olerud story).

And Jim Rice finally gets in on his last chance on the ballot. We’ll let New Englanders like The Beat discuss the merits of him being elected.

Rickey got 94.8% of the vote and Rice got 76.4%. Sadly, no election for Andre Dawson (67%) or Bert Blyleven (62.7%). The shameful percentage for Tim Raines is just shocking.

Also congratulations to Tony Kubek, for winning the Ford Frick award for broadcasters. As a kid, I always preferred watching Costas and Kubek on NBC to Vin Sculley and Joe Garagiola, even though he was a former Yankee.

Posted by Mark Coale

  1. There was a pre-backlash against those who stated they wouldn’t vote for Ricky on the first ballot and some have gone out of their way to defend themselves. I can’t believe 5.2% of these people wouldn’t vote for him.

  2. Henderson is a no-brainer, the greatest leadoff guy of all time. How could you not vote for him, unless you harbor some personal grudge?

    As far as Rice, congrats to him, although I’d have preferred that Blyleven and Raines would have attained Hall status.

  3. “I can’t believe 5.2% of these people wouldn’t vote for him.”

    Well, it would be such a horrible thing for anyone to get 100% of the vote if no one ever has, wouldn’t it? So say the writers, so goes the voting.

  4. Remember when Rickey was going for the base stealing record, and he had to always wear the Oakley sunglasses? That seemed a little like a sell-out. I think it was this sort of self promoting that alienated him from several people. I don’t think you could ever say he was humble or endearing.

  5. Does Ricky Henderson have a comic coming out? Why is this on the blog? The Babymen don’t care about baseball hall of fame crap…

  6. Ha.

    I posted a picture of that rickey comic specifically to thwart the “why is this on the beat” contingent.

    [Raspberry]

  7. Man, you forget how colorful baseball used to be. I love it still, but in a homogenized era of obscene contracts with private jet and penthouse hotel room clauses, Joe Buck’s ignorant boring and banal telecasting, and kids groomed to be big leaguers from the cradle, the sport has lost a lot of personality. Manny can be all the Manny he wants- he’s peanuts compared to Rickey, who deserved to be in the Hall, and 100% of the vote, for sheer entertainment-of-character value alone.

    “Kevin, this is Rickey. Calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball.”

    Being one of the five greatest baseball players of all time doesn’t hurt, either.

  8. I would presumeas as a member of the “A’s,” since he set many of his records with them, during his various times with the team.

  9. He’s better go in as an Athletic! He broke the base-stealing record as an A. He is one of the superheroes of my childhood. Rickey was not a humble ball player, but there was such fun in his cockiness. He would get on base, and you KNEW something was going to happen and no one would be able to do a thing about it. And then he’d talk about what he did in third person! Is there anyone in baseball like Rickey now?

  10. As an Angels fan who therefore always rooted against the A’s, I have to say that Rickey darn well belongs in the Hall of Fame, and as an Athletic.

  11. I used to share season tickets with a friend back in the 80s at Yankee Stadium. Our seats were halfway between third base and the wall, two rows off the field–a perfect spot to watch Ricky’s antics. He was the most dynamic player I’ve ever seen. The Yankees didn’t win any titles then but it was a joy to behold players like Ricky Henderson (Dave Winfield and Don Mattingly).

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