I’m off today frantically trying to meet a book-related deadline. But I could not let the glorious news that Rickey Henderson made it into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot go uncommemorated. I used to carry the man’s baseball card in my wallet when I was in high school. As a sort of good luck talisman, I guess. Or maybe to make me run faster (that didn’t really work).
Baseball can be kind of sleep-inducing as a spectator sport. Whenever Rickey Henderson was on base (or even at the plate), it wasn’t. He added a tension to games that I’ve never witnessed before or since.
Update The SF Chronicle has an entertaining article full of Rickey tales. My favorite:
Even former infielder Mike Gallego cast Henderson in a flattering light, no small thing considering Henderson once punctuated his near-annual contract complaint by saying, “If you want to pay me like Mike Gallego, I’ll play like Mike Gallego.” (At the time, Gallego responded, “I’m just glad he knows my name.”)
“That really irritated me at the moment, but I knew Rickey,” Gallego said Monday. “He had no intention of embarrassing anybody – he was playing baseball in the big leagues like he was playing in his backyard. We emulated Pete Rose and guys like that. Rickey emulated Rickey Henderson.”