December 12, 2008

Walking His Way to Cooperstown.: Joe Posnanski takes a look the impressive numbers of a man who, among his many on-field exploits, arguably did more than anyone else to legitimize references to oneself in the third person.

posted by holden to baseball at 03:54 PM - 7 comments

Great post, Holden! Nice to see some less obvious articles on Sportsfilter, as it was intended.

posted by bluesdog at 01:34 AM on December 13, 2008

Great post. The man makes a strong case. I was around for the better part of Henderson's career, but never really appreciated his impact. Maybe the lack of freakish power numbers is to blame for my oversight. Not to say that he was underrated, just maybe not truly appreciated by the very casual fan (like me.)

posted by tahoemoj at 03:06 AM on December 13, 2008

Howard_T thinks this is a great post. Howard_T thinks Rickey Henderson should be elected unanimously, but sadly, will not be. Nobody ever said that members of the BBWA had to have a brain.

posted by Howard_T at 09:12 AM on December 13, 2008

Those are ridiculous statistics. I agree that Rickey is a lock, sure-fire no-doubter fist balloter. However, I would caution the author from using soley cumulative stats to make his case. Rickey played a long time. While some feel this strengthens Rickey's case for 100% of the vote, This is what has apparently worked against Bert Blyleven from even getting 75%.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:36 AM on December 13, 2008

While I agree that Henderson certainly deserves to be in the hall, I can see reason for a non unanimous vote. Talent and ability are one thing, but character and class are another. Look how many teams he bounced around on. If he was such a valuable asset as a leadoff hitter, why did so many teams trade him? Could it be his attitude and demeaner?

If you recall, he broke the all time steals record almost exactly the same time Nolan Ryan broke the strike out record. It was a golden "teachable moment" for my then 10 year old son who now plays ball at the college level. Ryan broke the record with no fan fare, no bravado, and showed complete class in doing so. Henderson, on the other hand, ripped the base off the peg, pranced around and announced in the media his greatness; in short showed no class in his action. My son still remembers that lesson and conducts himself accordingly on and off the field.

posted by bb60 at 06:43 PM on December 13, 2008

I watched Rickey play for the Ogden A's (AAA, PCL) in 1979, back when I was still in Little League. I think somewhere in a closet I have an official minor-league game ball that Rickey fouled off into the right-field stands one of the times we got free tickets for being Little Leaguers.

I remember laughing at his super-crouching stance the first time I saw it - but within a couple of weeks we were all trying to imitate it because it seemed like Rickey was always getting on base.

He was already an amazing base-stealer then. He stole something like 45 bases in the half-season he was here, which was almost enough to lead the league for the whole season.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 09:04 PM on December 13, 2008

The most remarkable thing about Rickey's career accomplishments is even if you totally ignore his stolen bases, his numbers are still Cooperstown-worthy.

posted by spira at 01:54 AM on December 17, 2008

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