Good times, Good times: The Rickey File
Hey you! Brighten your day by recalling the greats that have played the game at Shea.
Rickey Henderson, born 1958 (8 years BEFORE Ice Williams), last seen as "San Diego Surf Dawg"(?), but is probably still playing somewhere. Who really cares? It's all about the memories.
Rickey, though denied a NL championship ring by the Mets after 1999's card playing debacle, will always have a place in our hearts, if only for his mentoring of Timo Perez. Let's remember, shall we...
Rickey, just a face in the crowd
The Record of Hackensack reported that, according to people in the organization, the two spent the last three innings in the clubhouse ignoring the game.
Henderson, in particular, was angry with Valentine because the manager replaced him with Melvin Mora in the eighth inning of Game 4 -- after Henderson had already taken his spot in left field. Teammates were not happy about the pair's absence. "Guys who saw (the card game) wanted to take a bat to their heads after the game," one person affiliated with the team said. "There were players crying and screaming in the dugout (after the Mets lost the game in 11 innings). Then they walk in the clubhouse and see that?" (Espn.com)
"I ain't taking that heat," Henderson says evenly. "We were in there with eight pitchers. We got them all together and said did we play cards? They said no. Then how did it get in the press that we played cards? We played cards before every game, yes, and we were winning. To say you and Bobby Bo, you played cards, and that's why we lost the game, that's bull. Get somebody to tell me I played cards (during the game), and I'll get face-to-face with them, and they won't say it to me."(Tom Weir, USA TODAY)
Rickey, observer of the human condition
"...while with the Seattle Mariners, Henderson asked teammate John Olerud why he wore a batting helmet while playing first base. Olerud explained he had an aneurysm years ago and wore the helmet for protection. Henderson said that was interesting, because a former teammate of his with the Mets had done the same thing. That former teammate was Olerud" (fabricated, but might as well be true; reported by Tom Weir, USA TODAY)
"Rickey Henderson is all alone at his locker, getting organized for a game. But it sounds like someone else must be there with him. Why else would he be chattering in that low, frenetic tone, muttering indecipherable words and sounding like a bee is buzzing in his mouth?
Ask Henderson about this habit, a habit friends and teammates say has been a career-long trademark, and Henderson says you're mistaken. "Do I talk to myself? No. I just remind myself of what I'm trying to do," he says. "You know, I never answer myself. So how can I be talking to myself?"(Tom Weir, USA TODAY )
Rickey, in his words
"I'm too much speed in my mouth, and I don't sometimes come out clear as I want to."
On management's attitude toward his injuries:
"I'm hurt, I'm banging my body up 150-200 times a year. I'm only 75-80%. But Rickey, your 75% is better than that other guy's 100%. I go out there and play. Hey man, you're jaking it, you're faking it. Hey, I'm a strong guy, but the press is saying I'm faking it. You know I'm hurt. Why don't you tell the press that I'm hurt? No, we tell the press that, then the other team knows, so they know you can't steal. So, who's taking the heat?"
"I can hit a line-drive, one-hopper to second base. As fast as I am, if you think I'm going to run that fast on a one-hopper to second base, you got some thinking coming. I know I'm out. Then you want to say I didn't hustle. But if the next time I get a base hit, and I'm stealing second and third, am I not hustling? The other guy, he hits the same ball, and look at him. He's still standing at first base. I'm not hustling? You get out of here. You're crazy."
On being a hot dog:
"If you weren't on my team, you'd think I'm crazy. You'd think I'm the worst guy of all. Most people do. You play the game so annoying, you play the game so good. We hate you. But I go with you, and you say we love the way you play the game. Do that flare-step style when you hit home runs. But you hated me when I did it against you. No, we want you to do it. Please, Rickey, I'm waiting on that. Rickey, would you please hit one?"
On his place in history:
On May 1, 1991, Henderson broke one of baseball's most famous records when he stole the 939th base of his career, one more than Lou Brock. However, Henderson's achievement was somewhat overshadowed because Nolan Ryan, at age 44, set a record that same night by throwing a no-hitter against Toronto, the seventh of his career. Two years earlier, Ryan had also achieved glory at Henderson's expense by making him his 5,000th strikeout victim.
Rickey also took some heat for his famous speech afterwards where, with Brock looking on from the field, he proclaimed, "Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest!" (Wikipedia)
Good help is hard to find:
Rickey called Padres GM Kevin Towers to inquire about a contract and left a message starting "this is Rickey, calling on behalf of Rickey"