Henderson Slides Into Hall of Fame

Rickey Henderson will be announced this afternoon as a new inductee into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame after a 25 year career in which he led the major leagues in stolen bases, runs scored, and lead-off home runs, and spanning the game's transition from national pastime to luxury backdrop for sipping chardonnay on summer nights in downtown Baltimore...Denver...Houston...etc.

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Rickey Henderson’s on and off the field flair—more Babe Ruth and Willie Mays than Joe DiMaggio or Hank Aaron—won’t win him any popularity contests among the conservative baseball press. But it’s still a travesty that he will be announced as a new Hall of Fame inductee today without a unanimous selection. Every year, at least one stubborn baseball writer leaves a consensus choice off of his ballot on general principle, and this year is no exception. Baseball writer Corky Simpson recently disclosed that he voted for eight lesser players rather than Henderson. Sure, it’s a tradition, but as the Queen of Zamunda once said, “It is a stupid tradition.”

 

Fortunately, Henderson will easily make it in on the first ballot, and there are plenty of others who will properly pay tribute to his contributions to the game. The New York Times’ Jack Curry reports that several all time greats consider Henderson the best player that they ever played with. And the late, great Ralph Wiley summed it up best for ESPN in 2001, recounting the first time that he saw Henderson in 1979, at age 21, and knew he’d be a baseball legend. His lifetime stats are impeccable: he’s the all time MLB leader in stolen bases, runs scored, and games led off with a home run. According to one player—“Rickey Henderson is a run, man.”