Today’s story is about one of Bone Daddy’s all-time favorite MLB baseball players….who became known at “The Man of Steal”….as Rickey Henderson was one of those talents that comes along about every 100 years….as a true “6 tool player” ….who could hit, run, catch, throw, had power and could think….so, this is the story of a one of a kind….that seemed to be a player from an alien world….who played in The Bigs for 24 years….and quite possibly affected the winning score of more ball games than any other person in their MLB career….cuz he could drive in runs with 1115 as a leadoff hitter…..he could cover left field better than any other left fielder except for Barry Bonds, who was The Man of Steal‘s equal with the glove….and talk about great arms…both Bonds and Hendersn had them…and then when it came to stealing a base…. now that is where Henderson affected the win in so many games….cuz he not only would take 2nd…..but he would follow that up by immediately stealing 3rd right after he took 2nd. What an incredible weapon Rickey Henderson was.
MLB – 1979 To 1993 – Special Highlights – Tribute To The Hall Of Fame Career Of Rickey Henderson
Rickey Henderson is an American retired professional baseball left fielder who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for nine teams from 1979 to 2003, including four separate tenures with his original team, the Oakland Athletics….who was nicknamed the “Man of Steal“….and is widely regarded as baseball’s greatest leadoff hitter and baserunner. He holds the major league records for career stolen bases, runs, unintentional walks and leadoff home runs. At the time of his last major league game in 2003, the ten-time American League (AL) All-Star ranked among the sport’s top 100 all-time home run hitters and was its all-time leader in base on balls. In 2009, he was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot appearance.
MLB – 1979 To 1993 – Special – Rickey Henderson Being Unbelievably Fast As The Best Basestealer Of All Time
Henderson holds the single-season record for stolen bases with 130 in 1982….and is the only player in AL history to steal 100 bases in a season, having done so three times…..as his MLB record 1,406 career steals is 50% higher than the previous record of 938 by Lou Brock. Henderson is the all-time stolen base leader for the Oakland Athletics and previously held the New York Yankees’ franchise record from 1988 to 2011. He was among the league’s top ten basestealers in 21 different seasons. Henderson was named the AL’s Most Valuable Player in 1990…. and he was the lead-off hitter for two World Series champions….. the 1989 Oakland A’s and the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays. A 12-time stolen base champion, Henderson led the league in runs five times. His 25-year career elevated Henderson to the top ten in several other categories, including career at-bats, games, and outfield putouts and total chances. His high on-base percentage, power hitting, and stolen base and run totals made him one of the most dynamic players of his era. He was further known for his unquenchable passion for playing baseball and a buoyant, eccentric, and quotable personality that both perplexed and entertained fans. Once asked if he thought Henderson was a future Hall of Famer, statistician Bill James replied, “If you could split him in two, you’d have two Hall of Famers.”
MLB – 2000 – Highlights – HOF Rickey Henderson 1st At Bat Home Run With The Seattle Mariners
Henderson made his major league debut with Oakland on June 24, 1979, getting two hits in four at-bats, along with a stolen base. He batted .274 with 33 stolen bases in 89 games. In 1980, Henderson became the third modern-era player to steal 100 bases in a season (Maury Wills 104 in 1962 and Lou Brock’s 118 in 1974 had preceded him). His 100 steals broke Eddie Collins’ franchise record of 81 in 1910 with what were then the Philadelphia Athletics and set a new American League (AL) record, surpassing Ty Cobb’s 96 set in 1915. He also batted .303, had 179 hits (tied for ninth in AL), scored 111 runs (fourth in AL), drew 117 walks (second in AL), had a .420 on base % (third in AL) and led the AL by reaching base 301 times. That winter, Henderson played in the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League; his 42 stolen bases broke that league’s record as well.
MLB – 2020 – Dorktown Special – “Rickey Henderson Crushed Souls With Unprecedented Efficiency”
Henderson was an MVP candidate a year later, in a season shortened by a players’ strike…..when he hit .319….which was 4th in the AL….while leading the league in hits with 135….plus runs with 89….and in steals with 56. Henderson was also 3rd in on-base percentage at .408…..while being tied for 2nd in triples with 7….4th in walks with 64…..8th in total bases with 185…..and 2nd in times reaching base with 201. In so doing, he became the emblematic figure of Oakland manager Billy Martin’s aggressive “Billy Ball” philosophy….which received much media attention….while finishing 2nd to the Milwaukee Brewers’ Rollie Fingers in the MVP voting….as Henderson’s fielding that season also earned him his only Gold Glove Award. He later became known for his showboating “snatch catches”, in which he would flick his glove out at incoming fly balls, then whip his arm behind his back after making the catch.
MLB – 2013 – Special Highlights – Rickey Henderson Makes “Snatch Catch” In Yankees Old Timers Game
In 1982, Henderson broke Lou Brock’s major league single season record by stealing 130 bases, a total which has not been approached since. He stole 84 bases by the All-Star break; no player has stolen as many as 84 bases in an entire season since 1988, when Henderson himself stole 93. Henderson’s 130 steals outpaced nine of the American League’s 14 teams that season. He also led the AL in walks (116), was fourth in runs (119) and third in on base % (.398). Henderson adopted an exaggerated crouch as his batting stance, which reduced his strike zone without sacrificing much power. Sportswriter Jim Murray described Henderson’s strike zone as being “smaller than Hitler’s heart”. In 1982, Henderson described his approach to Sports Illustrated by saying “I found that if I squatted down real low at the plate … I could see the ball better. I also knew it threw the pitcher off. I found that I could put my weight on my back foot and still turn my hips on the swing. I’m down so low I don’t have much of a strike zone. Sometimes, walking so much even gets me mad. Last year Ed Ott of the Angels got so frustrated because the umpire was calling balls that would’ve been strikes on anybody else that he stood up and shouted at me, “Stand up and hit like a man.” I guess I do that to people.”
MLB – 1979 To 2003 – Special – Career Highlights Of “The Man Of Steal” Rickey Henderson
Henderson also made MLB history in 1983 with his third 100 runs/100 stolen bases/100 walks season….as no modern player has done it once….that’s when he led the AL in stolen bases with 108….walks with 103 …..while finishing 4th in runs scored with 105….and was also 2nd in on base % at .414…..while tied for 9th in triples with 7…..and 5th in times on base, reaching 257 times. In 1984, which was also the final season of his first stint in Oakland….Henderson started to develop more of a power stroke hitting 16 home runs while leading the league in stolen bases with 66….while finishing 2nd in runs scored with 113…..and 3rd in on-base-percentage at .399….then after the season, he was traded to the New York Yankees…..to which we here at ImaSportsphile shouted YAAAAHOOOOO!!!
MLB – 2001 – Special Highlights – Padres OF Rickey Henderson Breaks Ty Cobb’s All Time Runs Scored Record With A Home Run
As his muscular frame developed, Henderson continued to improve as a hitter. His increasing power-hitting ability eventually led to a record for home runs to lead off a game. During his career, he hit over 20 home runs in four different seasons, with a high of 28 in 1986 and again in 1990. In December 1984, Henderson was traded to the New York Yankees along with Bert Bradley for five players including Tim Birtsas, Jay Howell, Stan Javier, Eric Plunk, and José Rijo. In his first season with the Yankees, he led the league in runs scored with 146 and stolen bases with 80….while being 4th in batting average with .314…. walks with 99….and on-base percentage with .419….as well as 7th in slugging at .516….plus 3rd in OPS with .934….and hit 24 home runs. He also won the Silver Slugger Award….and was third in the voting for the MVP award. His 146 runs scored were the most since Ted Williams had 150 in 1950….and he became the first player since Jimmie Foxx in 1939 to amass more runs scored than games played. Henderson became the first player in major league history to reach 80 stolen bases and 20 home runs in the 1985 season…..then he matched the feat in 1986….as did the Reds’ Eric Davis….and they still remain the only players in major league history who are in the “20/80 club”.
MLB – 2005 – ESPN’s Mike & Mike Show – Featuring HOF Rickey Henderson Talking About Some Of His Famous Quotes
In 1986, he led the AL in runs scored with 130 and stolen bases with 87 for the second year in a row….while being 7th in walks with 89 and extra base hits with 64…..while hitting 28 home runs….with 9 of them being to lead off the games….and had 74 RBIs as a leadoff hitter…just awesome. In 1987, he had a below-average season by his standards, fueling criticism from the New York media, which had never covered Henderson or his eccentricities kindly. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner issued a press release claiming that manager Lou Piniella wanted to trade Henderson for “jaking it” (playing lackadaisically)….. and yet he had his best on-base percentage to that point in his career at .423…..with a .291 batting average….while being 5th in the AL in stolen bases with 41…..and hit 17 home runs despite playing only 95 games. It was the only season from 1980 to 1991 in which Henderson did not lead the AL in steals. In 1988, Henderson led the AL in steals with 93…..was 3rd in runs scored with 118…..5th in OBP at .394…. and 7th in walks with 82…..while hitting .305….and albeit The Man of Steal was only in New York for four and a half seasons…..he set the Yankees’ franchise record with 326 stolen bases until in 2011 when Derek Jete…. who had played 1,700 more games as a Yankee than Henderson…..finally broke the record.
MLB – 1989 – Special Highlights – Oakland A’s Masterful Memories – Rickey Henderson vs. Blue Jays In ALCS
Following a mid-season trade to Oakland in 1989….that is when Rickey Henderson reasserted himself as one of the game’s greatest players….with a memorable half-season in which his 52 steals and 72 runs scored led the A’s into the postseason…..as his 126 walks for the year were the most for any AL hitter since 1970…..then with a record eight steals in five games, he was named MVP of the American League Championship Series….where he hit .400 while scoring eight runs and delivering two home runs, five runs batted in (RBI), seven walks and a 1.000 slugging percentage…..which led the A’s to a four-game sweep over the San Francisco Giants….and the franchise’s first World Series title since 1974…..where Henderson hit .474….with an .895 slugging average including two triples and a homer….while stealing three more bases. On August 22, 1989, he became Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout victim….after which he laid his bat down and bowed to the strikeout king…..as Henderson took an odd delight in the occurrence, saying, “If you haven’t been struck out by Nolan Ryan, you’re nobody.” The video of the event below was recorded on a hand-held VHS camera from the left field bleachers a Arlington Stadium, where Bone Daddy and his family were sitting….which makes this a very special…..cuz the fellow that recorded this had no idea there’d be an internet, nor a youtube to share it on….with no cell phones…..just an old school camcorder.
MLB – 1989 – Special Hand Held Camera Video – Rickey Henderson Becomes Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th Strikeout Victim
A year later, Henderson finished 2nd in the league in batting average with a mark of .325….while losing out to the Kansas City Royals’ George Brett on the final day of the season…..as he had a very consistent season, with his batting average falling below .320 for only one game, the 3rd of the year…..while reaching safely by a hit or a walk in 125 of his 136 games…..as he led the league in runs with 119….stolen bases with 65…..on-base percentage at .439….and OPS of 1.016…..while he was 2nd in slugging % at .577….4th in walks with 97 and extra base hits with 66…..plus being 6th in home runs with 28 and total bases with 282…..and had 61 RBI. Henderson won the AL’s MVP award and helped Oakland to another pennant. He again performed well in the World Series with a .333 batting average….0..667 slugging percentage….plus a home run and three steals in four games….but the A’s were swept by the underdog Cincinnati Reds.
MLB – 1981 – Special – Rickey Henderson Interview With Vin Scully Regarding Pitcher Pick-Off Moves While Playing “Billy Ball” At Oakland
On May 1, 1991, Henderson broke one of baseball’s most noted records when he stole the 939th base of his career, one more than Lou Brock’s total compiled from 1961 to 1979, mainly with the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1993, Henderson was having another outstanding season when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays at the trade deadline. In 90 games with Oakland, he was batting .327 (second in AL) with 17 home runs and 47 RBIs. He also had scored 77 runs, stolen 31 bases, drew 85 walks, had a .469 on-base percentage and was slugging .553. On July 16, 1993, Henderson broke the world stolen base record by stealing his 1,066th base, thus going past the record which was previously held by Yutaka Fukumoto. In July 1993, the Athletics traded Henderson to the playoff-bound Toronto Blue Jays for Steve Karsay and José Herrera. He performed disappointingly for the Jays, hitting only .215 in 44 games, which was probably due to the fact that he fractured a bone on his hand early on with the team, after being hit by a pitch, although he still contributed 22 stolen bases and 37 runs scored. However, his hitting woes continued in the post-season, batting .120 in the American League Championship Series and .227 in the World Series. Nevertheless, Henderson was involved in the final play of the World Series that year in one fashion for which he was most known, as he and Paul Molitor scored on Joe Carter’s Series-ending home run. After winning his second World Series ring with Toronto, he re-signed as a free agent with Oakland in December 1993.
MLB – 1979 To 2003 – Special – Legends: Rickey Henderson – The Life And Career Of “The Man Of Steal”
In 1994 and 1995, Henderson finished in the top 10 in the league in walks, steals and on-base percentage. His .300 average in 1995 marked his sixth and final season in the AL with a .300 or better average. Henderson signed with the San Diego Padres….where he had another respectable year in 1996, again finishing in the top ten in the National League (NL) in walks, OBP, steals and runs. In August 1997, Henderson was traded from the Padres to the California Angels….where his brief stint as an Angel was uneventful, as he batted only .183 for the rest of the season…..then in In January 1998, Henderson signed as a free agent with the Athletics for his 4th time playing for the franchise….and that season he led the majors in stolen bases with 66…..and the AL in walks with 118….while scoring 101 runs.
MLB – 1979 To 2003 – Special Highlights Showcasing HOF Rickey Henderson’s Power + Home Run Trot + His Slide
A year later, Henderson signed as a free agent with the New York Mets…..and In 1999, he batted .315 with 37 steals and was 7th in the NL in on-base percentage…..as Henderson was voted the 1999 National League “Comeback Player of the Year”…..when he wore number 24, which although not officially retired, had not been regularly worn by a Mets player since Willie Mays’ retirement in 1973…..nonetheless, Henderson and the Mets were an uneasy fit…..when following the Mets’ loss in the 1999 NLCS, the New York press made much adieu of a card game between Henderson and Bobby Bonilla. Both players had been substituted out of the lineup, and they reportedly left the dugout before the playoff game had concluded.
MLB – 1991 – Special Highlights – A’s Rickey Henderson Breaks The All Time Steals Record
In May 2000, Henderson was released by the Mets, and quickly signed as a free agent with the Seattle Mariners. In only his second game as a Mariner, on May 20, Henderson hit a leadoff home run, thus becoming the third player to hit a home run in four different decades (Ted Williams and Willie McCovey were the others, and Omar Vizquel became the fourth in 2010). Despite the late start, Henderson finished fourth in the AL in stolen bases with 31.
MLB – 2009 – Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony Special – A’s Manager Tony LaRussa Tells Rickey Henderson Stories
A free agent in March 2001, Henderson returned to the Padres. During the 2001 season, he broke three major league career records and reached an additional major career milestone. He brokeBabe Ruth’s record of 2,062 career walks, Ty Cobb’s record of 2,245 career runs, and Zack Wheat’s record of 2,328 career games in left field, and on the final day of the season collected his 3,000th career hit, a leadoff double off Rockies pitcher John Thomson. That final game was also Tony Gwynn’s last major league game, and Henderson had originally wanted to sit out so as not to detract from the occasion, but Gwynn insisted that Henderson play. After scoring the game’s first run, Henderson was removed from the lineup. With Gwynn having 3,141 hits, it was just the second time in Major League history that a pair of teammates each had 3,000 career hits; Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker had previously played many games together for the 1928 A’s. At the age of 42, in his last substantial major league season, Henderson finished the year with 25 stolen bases, ninth in the NL; it also marked his 23rd consecutive season with more than 20 steals. Of the ten top base stealers who were still active as of 2002, the other nine each stole fewer bases in 2002 than the 42-year-old Henderson.
MLB – 2009 – Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony – Rickey Henderson Acceptance Speech
In February 2002, Henderson signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox, where at age 43 he became the oldest player to play center field in major league history when he replaced Johnny Damon for three games in April and another in July. Henderson’s arrival was marked by a statistical oddity. During the 22 and a half years from his June 1979 debut through the end of the 2001 season, he had stolen more bases by himself than his new team had: 1,395 steals for Henderson, 1,382 for the Boston franchise. The Red Sox finally “passed” Henderson on April 30, 2002. At 43, Henderson was the oldest player in the American League.
MLB – 1992 – Special Highlights – A’s Rickey Henderson Steals His 1000th Base Vs Detroit
So ended the career of one of the very best players of all time…..as “The Man of Steal” literally outdistanced all other basestealers and leadoff hitters by an insurmountable distance…..with a flair that stretched the imagination. Rickey Henderson deserves his place with the best baseball players of all time …..while deserving his place of honor in our ImaSportsphile video museum.
MLB – 2003 – Special Highlights – HOF Rickey Henderson Steals His Final Base