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What Is RICKEY HENDERSON Doing in NEWARK?
Tom Verducci
June 23, 2003
The greatest leadoff hitter of all time is beating the bushes, trying to get back to the majors—and still leaving 'em laughing at every stop
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June 23, 2003

What Is Rickey Henderson Doing In Newark?

The greatest leadoff hitter of all time is beating the bushes, trying to get back to the majors—and still leaving 'em laughing at every stop

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There was another time in San Diego....

Henderson was boarding the team bus, walking toward the back to sit near Hoffman and catcher Brian Johnson. Tony Gwynn, seated near the front, stopped Henderson and said, "Rickey, you sit up here. You've got tenure."

"Ten?" Henderson said defiantly. "Rickey got 20 years in the big leagues."

Ah, yes. If Henderson is not best known for his speed or his strike zone ("Smaller than Hitler's heart," the late Jim Murray wrote), it must be his penchant for referring to himself as Rickey. Or as Rickey says, "A lot of times people talk about [my using the] third party."

One off-season, in search of a team, he left a message on Towers's voice mail that went like this: "Kevin, this is Rickey. Calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball."

"One time," says Mariners catcher Ben Davis, who played with Henderson on the Padres, "Rickey came walking into the clubhouse with this denim outfit and big suede hat. And he goes, 'Rickey got a big ranch [in California]. Rickey got a big bull. Rickey got horses. Rickey got chickens and everything.

"And Rickey got a 20-gallon hat.' "

"In 2000," said Texas shortstop Alex Rodriguez, who played with Henderson that season in Seattle, "Rickey was scuffling down the stretch, and there was some speculation that he wouldn't even be on the postseason roster. Rickey would say, 'Don't worry about Rickey. Rickey's an October player. Rickey's a postseason player.' And he was. He helped us beat Chicago.

"Sometimes he'd come back to the dugout after an umpire called him out, and I'd go, 'Rickey, was that a strike?' And he'd go, 'Maybe, but not to Rickey.' "

Rickey's Rules for a Long Career

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