MLB Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson at Steiner Sports Store

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Rickey Henderson at Steiner Sports

Roosevelt Field Mall – Garden City, NY

Rickey Henderson greeted fans and signed autographs yesterday at the Steiner Sports Store in the Roosevelt Field Mall. He was joined by Yankees great Bernie Williams. Yankees and MLB fans alike traveled to get their coveted autographs and to say they have met legends in their own right. Their smiles were contagious as everyone who met them couldn’t help but to be over whelmed with joy. Once again, another successful signing with happy fans. – Adam Charach


Rickey Henderson at Steiner Sports Store in Roosevelt Field Mall - Garden City, NY

Rickey Henderson Steiner Sports Roosevelt Field Mall

Rickey Henderson aka “The Man of Steal”

Henderson was born on Dec. 25, 1958.

Before Henderson even left his teenage years, in 1976, he was taken by the Oakland Athletics in the 4th round of the amateur draft on June 8 and Henderson signed with the A’s on July 9 of the same year.

Henderson’s 1st Major League Baseball Game (Debut)

Henderson’s MLB debut came against the Texas Rangers and though the A’s lost (5-1), Henderson posted some impressive statistics. Henderson, the lead-off hitter for the A’s, started the bottom of the 1st with a double to right field, and finished the day 2/4 (.500 avg) with 1.250 OPS and 1 SB.

This is, unquestionably, a good outing for any baseball player. The only thing that could have made this day better was a side of ribbies. But this is a tall order when everyone from your cleanup hitter through the bottom of the order bats 2 for 21 at the plate.

Henderson’s last Major League Baseball game

Henderson’s final game was in 2003, on Sept. 9.

At the age of 44, he didn’t even get a full at bat. During the bottom of the 7th, Henderson stepped-in for Guillermo Mota (pitcher) in a game against the San Francisco Giants and Henderson was “HBP” or hit by pitch. He retired in a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform and, in 2009, he was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot appearance (94.8 per cent vote).

Rickey Henderson is one of the greatest lead-off hitters to play MLB

It is easy to see why Rickey Henderson is one of the greatest lead-off hitters the game of baseball has ever seen. Henderson sports a .279 lifetime batting average (10,961 at bats) and .401 on base percentage in 3,081 games; Henderson tallied 3,055 hits and crossed home plate 2,295 times; Henderson has 1,406 stolen bases (130 playing for the A’s in 1982), enough to earn him the No. 1 spot for stolen bases, all-time.

Henderson was a great contact hitter, and he had power and speed too, but Henderson’s patience in the batter’s box is seldom discussed the way the statistics above are preened. Henderson retired with 1,694 strikeouts  and 2,190 walks, and his total walks record is 2nd all-time behind Barry Bonds.

There were only four seasons Henderson recorded more strikeouts than walks.

1979 – 89 games: 34 BB / 39 SO
1981 – 108 games: 64 BB / 68 SO
2001 – 123 games: 81 BB / 84 SO
2002 – 72 games: 38 BB / 47 SO

  • Note: in 1999, Henderson recorded 82 base on balls and 82 strikeouts in 121 games.

The disappearance of hitters who walk more than they strike out is very real. And Chris Wright illustrates baseball’s strikeout trend is growing at record pace:

In the past five seasons, major league hitters faced 74,631 0-2 pitches. They hit just 834 home runs, compared with 35,980 strikeouts. Put another way, those hitters were 43 times more likely to strike out than hit a home run. (newsobserver.com, 05/13/2013)

Henderson’s approach to the game, commitment to performance and individual talent should not be overlooked, especially when today’s MLB mostly chooses to swing for the fences. I believe the best athletes are held in high regard for their explosiveness. An explosive athlete makes everything tough for the opponent.

A player like Henderson has baseball value with any ball club and it is players like Henderson who provide authentic excitement fans want to see. Nowadays, everything seems to have a brand and a dollar sign attached to it, as a spectacle should.

But when everyone dreams of the long ball, there’s little to excite.

H/t baseball-reference.com and mlb.mlb.com.

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