top 25 Rickey Henderson stories of all time

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in honor of his hof ballot appearance

true or not, lame or not (and some are lame), this poll does not judge.

1) In June 1999, when Henderson was playing with the Mets, he saw reporters running around the clubhouse before a game. He asked a teammate what was going on and he was told that Tom Robson, the team’s hitting coach, had just been fired. Henderson said, “Who’s he?”

2) Rickey... on referring to himself in the third person:
“Listen, people are always saying, ‘Rickey says Rickey.’ But it’s been blown way out of proportion. People might catch me, when they know I’m ticked off, saying, ‘Rickey, what the heck are you doing, Rickey?’ They say, ‘Darn, Rickey, what are you saying Rickey for? Why don’t you just say, ‘I?’ But I never did. I always said, ‘Rickey,’ and it became something for people to joke about.”

3) In the early 1980s, the Oakland A’s accounting department was freaking out. The books were off $1 million. After an investigation, it was determined Rickey was 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.

4) In 1996, Henderson’s first season with San Diego, he boarded the team bus and was looking for a seat. Steve Finley said, “You have tenure, sit wherever you want.” Henderson looked at Finley and said, “Ten years? Ricky’s been playing at least 16, 17 years.”

5) This one might be my second favorite. This wasn’t too long ago, I think it was the year he ended up playing with the Red Sox. Anyway, he called San Diego GM Kevin Towers and left the following message: “This is Rickey calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball.”

6) This one happened in Seattle. Rickey struck out and as the next batter was walking past him, he heard Henderson say, “Don’t worry, Rickey, you’re still the best.”

7) Rickey once asked a teammate how long it would take him to drive to the Dominican Republic.

8) Moments after breaking Lou Brock’s stolen base record, Henderson told the crowd – with Brock mere feet next to him – “Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest of all-time.”

9) Henderson once fell asleep on an ice pack and got frostbite – which forced him to miss three games — in mid-August.

10) A reporter asked Henderson if Ken Caminiti’s estimate that 50 percent of Major League players were taking steroids was accurate. His response was, “Well, Rickey’s not one of them, so that’s 49 percent right there.”

11) Henderson broke Ty Cobb’s career record for runs scored with a home run. After taking his usual 45 seconds or so around the bases, Rickey slid into home plate.

12) On being Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th career strikeout: “It gave me no chance. He (Ryan) just blew it by me. But it’s an honor. I’ll have another paragraph in all the baseball books. I’m already in the books three or four times.”

13) San Diego GM Kevin Towers was trying to contact Rickey at a nearby hotel. He knew Henderson always used fake names to avoid the press, fans, etc. He was trying to think like Rickey and after several attempts; he was able to get Henderson on the phone.

Rickey had checked in under Richard Pryor.

14) I didn’t believe this one at first. However, I emailed a few contacts within the Sox organization and they claim it actually happened. This is priceless, it really is.

The morning after the Sox finished off their 2004 World Series sweep against St. Louis, Henderson called someone in the organization looking for tickets to Game 6 at Fenway Park.

15) The Mets were staying in a hotel less than a mile from Cinergy Field in Cincinnati. While some players walked, most took the team bus. A few minutes after they arrived — again it was less than a mile – the last players off the bus noticed a stretched limo that had just pulled up.

Of course, Rickey emerged from the back seat.

16) A reporter once asked Rickey if he talked to himself, “Do I talk to myself? No, I just remind myself of what I’m trying to do. You know, I never answer myself so how can I be talking to myself?”

17) OK, I know everyone has been waiting for it. Alas, according to both parties involved, it’s not true. I wish it were. Heck, both Rickey Henderson and John Olerud have said they wish it were true. But it just didn’t happen.

The story went that a few weeks into Henderson’s stint with the Mariners, he walked up to Olerud at the batting cage and asked him why he wore a batting helmet in the field. Olerud explained that he had an aneurysm at nine years old and he wore the helmet for protection. Legend goes that Henderson said, “Yeah, I used to play with a guy that had the same thing.” Legend also goes that Olerud said, “That was me, Rickey.”

Henderson played with Olerud on the Blue Jays and the Mets.

18) Rickey was asked if he had the Garth Brooks album with Friends in Low Places and Henderson said, “Rickey doesn’t have albums. Rickey has CDs.”

19) During a contract holdout with Oakland in the early 1990s, Henderson said, “If they want to pay me like Mike Gallego, I’ll play like Gallego.”

20) In the late 1980s, the Yankees sent Henderson a six-figure bonus check. After a few months passed, an internal audit revealed the check had not been cashed. Current Yankees GM Brian Cashman – then a low-level nobody with the organization – called Rickey and asked if there was a problem with the check. Henderson said, “I’m just waiting for the money market rates to go up.”

21) This is my all-time favorite. Rickey was pulled over by a San Diego police officer for speeding. As the officer was approaching Rickey’s car, the window went down a few inches and a folded $100 bill emerged. The officer let Rickey and his money head home without a ticket.

22) When he was on the Yankees in the mid-1980s, Henderson told teammates that his condo had such a great view that he could see, “The Entire State Building.”

23) During one of his stays with Oakland, Henderson’s locker was next to Billy Beane’s. After making the team out of spring training, Beane was sent to the minors after a few months. Upon his return, about six weeks later, Henderson looked at Beane and said, “Hey, man, where have you been? Haven’t seen you in awhile.”

24) To this day and dating back 25 years, before every game he plays, Henderson stands completely naked in front of a full length locker room mirror and says, “Ricky’s the best,” for several minutes.

25) In the last week of his lone season with the Red Sox, Chairman Tom Werner asked Henderson what he would like for his ‘going-away’ gift. Henderson said he wasn’t going anywhere, but he would like owner John Henry’s Mercedes. Werner said it would be tough to get the same make and model in less than a week and Henderson said, “No, I want his car.” Turns out the Sox got Henderson a Red Thunderbird and when he saw it on the field before the last game of the season, Rickey said, “Whose ugly car is on the field?”

Poll Results

Naked Rickey 4
Framed bonus check 4
Game 6 tix 1
John Olerud 1
Rickey has CDs 1
Steroids? 49 percent 1
Lou Brock 1
Billy Beane 1
Check not cashed b/c of money market rates 0
Mike Gallego 0
Rickey's bribe 0
Entire State Building 0
Rickey doesn't answer himself 0
Who's Tom Robson? 0
Rickey's limo 0
Rickey as Richard Pryor 0
Rickey in the third person 0
Tenure? Ten year? 0
Rickey on behalf of Rickey 0
Rickey's still the best 0
Drive to the Dominican Republic 0
Ice pack frostbite 0
Breaking Cobb's runs record w/a slide 0
Ryan's 5000th K 0
Red Thunderbird 0

omar little, Friday, 5 December 2008 23:37 (fourteen years ago) link

Has to be Naked Rickey.

Alex in SF, Saturday, 6 December 2008 00:06 (fourteen years ago) link

There's another Naked Rickey story where he surreptitiously rests his endowment of the shoulder of a sitting teammate. Wish I could remember the source (a book about the '99 Mets?).

Dr Morbius, Saturday, 6 December 2008 18:40 (fourteen years ago) link

My favourite is the Olerud story, but if it's definitely not true then it takes away some of the fun of voting for it. So it's a toss-up between "Rickey on behalf of Rickey" and "Steroids? 49 percent".

NoTimeBeforeTime, Saturday, 6 December 2008 22:50 (fourteen years ago) link

It can't be anything other than Naked Rickey. The SB record-breaking Lou Brock comment is priceless as well, but I defy anyone to stand naked in front of a mirror and say the words "You're the best" to themselves without cracking up.

Z S, Saturday, 6 December 2008 23:01 (fourteen years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Monday, 15 December 2008 00:01 (fourteen years ago) link

i voted for Olerud. the fact that it is at least believable is enough for this guy.

The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall, Monday, 15 December 2008 21:33 (fourteen years ago) link

I was always fond of "Rickey has CDs."

the ref (ed hochuli ha ha) (call all destroyer), Monday, 15 December 2008 21:39 (fourteen years ago) link

The SB record-breaking Lou Brock comment is, ummm, the truth.

Dr Morbius, Monday, 15 December 2008 21:43 (fourteen years ago) link

and unlike Rickey, Brock wasn't very good at anything else.

Dr Morbius, Monday, 15 December 2008 21:44 (fourteen years ago) link

3) In the early 1980s, the Oakland A’s accounting department was freaking out. The books were off $1 million. After an investigation, it was determined Rickey was 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.


gov. blapojevich (J0rdan S.), Monday, 15 December 2008 22:00 (fourteen years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Tuesday, 16 December 2008 00:01 (fourteen years ago) link

Rickey was 50 yesterday, I bet none of you spoke about yrselves in the 3rd person.

Dr Morbius, Friday, 26 December 2008 22:43 (fourteen years ago) link

four years pass...

from Piazza's book:

The Mets released Rickey in May 2000, which meant that he helped us to the playoffs in his only full season with the ball club. He was instrumental in not only getting us there, but in how the playoff shares—the bonuses earned from MLB for each postseason series—were divided. The shares meeting is always an interesting exercise in human dynamics, sort of a microcosm of democracy. Rickey was the most generous guy I ever played with, and whenever the discussion came around to what we should give one of the fringe people—whether it was a minor leaguer who came up for a few days or the parking lot attendant—Rickey would shout out, 'Full share!' We'd argue for a while and he'd say, 'Fuck that! You can change somebody's life!' I admired Rickey's heart, but I usually came down somewhere in the middle.

saltwater incursion (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 14 February 2013 18:58 (ten years ago) link

'Fuck that! You can change somebody's life!'


johnny crunch, Thursday, 14 February 2013 19:03 (ten years ago) link

Ultramega OK Cupid (Leee), Friday, 15 February 2013 04:41 (ten years ago) link

five years pass...

"Rickey needs Rickey’s houses to be clean!"

mookieproof, Thursday, 29 March 2018 21:37 (five years ago) link

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