Hall of Famer and former Blue Jays left fielder (if only for three months) Rickey Henderson turns 64 today.
He might have only been a Blue Jay for three months, but it was long enough to earn one of his two World Series rings. Unfortunately, he wasn’t at the top of his game with us: In 44 regular-season games, he hit .215/.356/.319 with 22 stolen bases and 35 walks. The .356 OBP seems pretty good, but not compared to his .401 career mark. In the playoffs, he hit .170/.316/.255 with 3 stolen bases and 2 caught stealing....but then he did get on base for Joe Carter’s series-winning home run, so we can forgive him. He will tell you Carter got a better pitch to hit because he was on base, and Mitch Williams used a slide step to hold him close.
After the season, he signed back with the A’s as a free agent.
Rickey came to us in a deadline deal. We sent Steve Karsay and Jose Herrera to Oakland in exchange. Karsay went on to have a pretty good career (though he didn’t do much for the A’s 4.97 ERA in 45 games, 36 starts, strung out over three seasons). Later he became a workhorse out of the bullpen with Cleveland and the Yankees. Herrera played 141 games for the A’s over two seasons, hitting .264/.314/.367 with 6 home runs.
Rickey had a fantastic career, with an MLB record with 1406 stolen bases and 2295 runs. Combine that with a .279/.401/.419 slash line, 297 home runs, and a great glove in left field, and you have the best leadoff hitter ever.
He only won one MVP award, but he was one of the top players in baseball for several years there.
He also had the most oversized ego in baseball. I do love this story:
In the early 1980s, the Oakland A’s accounting department was freaking out. The books were off $1 million. After an investigation, Rickey was found to be the reason why. The GM asked him about a $1 million bonus he had received, and Rickey said instead of cashing it, he framed it and hung it on a wall at his house.
True or not, I love the story.
And when he was with the Jays, he missed three games after falling asleep on an ice pack.
So he wasn’t the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but I still would have loved it if he was a Jay for more of his career.
Happy birthday, Rickey. I hope it is a good one. The poor guy likely gets ripped off on presents. My birthday is mid-January, and my parents still didn’t do much for my birthday presents. But, of course, it could be just because my parents were cheap.
Former Blue Jays coaches Marty Peavy, and Bruce Walton also have birthdays today. Both turn 60. Happy birthday to both.