Rickey Being Rickey

Apropos to nothing related to "musings," "urban," or "Christian," indulge me a little splurge about my boy-crush on my childhood idol Rickey Henderson.  When people learn of my love for the Oakland A's, usually the fact that I grew up in the Bay Area suffices for a reason why.  But if pressed as to why the A's and why not the San Francisco Giants, all I need is a two-word response: "Rickey Henderson."

Rickey broke in with the A's in 1979, just as a six-year-old boy in San Jose was going gaga over baseball.  I wasn't alone: all my friends dug everything about Rickey.  Check out this outlandish video and you'll see why:

Start with the batting stance, that exaggerated crouch that maximized two things Rickey was great at, which was drawing walks and hitting homers.  (Baseball guru Bill James was once asked if Rickey deserved to be in the Hall of Fame, to which he replied that Rickey could be divvied up into two players and both would make the Hall...that's how remarkable was his mix of power and speed.)  Needless to say, on the ballfields of my boyhood, his was the stance we emulated the most often.

The rest of the short video encapsulates the swagginess that was Rickey: big bat flip, head bob, collar-popping.  The long, wide, and slow turn to first base just slays me.  So what if that sort of behavior would otherwise warrant a fastball between the shoulder blades the next time up?  That sort of pimpin' was like catnip to us impressionable youth.

We haven't even talked about his outrageous base-stealing.  Even during an age of great larceny, his numbers defy belief - 33, 100, 56, 130 (!), 108, all before the age of 25.  The sheer brazenness, the head-first slides, the claiming of bases after breaking another record...again, all electric to me and other fanboys. 

Stories of Rickey being Rickey are legion.  (Man, I wish Twitter existed in the early 80's.)  My favorite was when a teammate affirmed Rickey's right as a veteran to ask for a day off from practice by saying that he had tenure.  To which Rickey replied as only Rickey can: "Tenure?  Rickey's been in the league for 16 years!" 

I could go on - we haven't even talked about the snatch catches, the gap-toothed smile, or the legendary workouts - but I'll stop here.  Like Iverson around here a decade+ ago, Rickey was the man for us early 80's youngsters.  I'll forever be an A's fan because of that.  But there'll never be another Rickey.

Post a Comment