The only question about Rickey Henderson entering the Baseball Hall of Fame is whether the engraver can catch him to record his image on his bronze enshrinement plaque. Henderson was the ultimate leadoff hitter in his brilliant career, stealing more bases than anyone in the history of the game.
I was lucky enough to be at County Stadium in Milwaukee during the summer of 1982 on the night he tied Lou Brock’s single-season stolen base record. I was running film for the Associated Press photo crew that night. Henderson wasn’t able to break the record that evening, and I was all charged up to go back the next night, which happened to be my 26th birthday. But the boss said no, they had enough help. I was crushed, and left the bureau in a foul mood. When I arrived home, I walked into a surprise birthday party that my wife and the bureau chief had arranged. All was forgiven, and it wasn’t long before the stadium darkroom called to tell me that Rickey had swiped another base and broke Brock’s record.
Late in Henderson’s career, I saw him play for the Newark Bears in the Atlantic League. In a game against the Somerset Patriots in Bridgewater, N.J., we were near the Bears’ dugout when an ump threw Henderson out of the game for mouthing off about a call he didn’t like. That competitive fire always burned in Henderson.
I saw Jim Rice play many times against the Indians in the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium and a couple times at Fenway Park in Boston while I was in college nearby. Rice only played for the Sox, so he’ll have a Boston cap on his plaque. I don’t know for certain how Henderson will be depicted, but for me, there’s no question: He goes with an Athletics cap.