Rickey Henderson is a baseball legend…in more ways than one. Not only did Rickey’s 25-year playing career put him into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but the stories that have been told about him only added to his reputation as a slightly off-center yet lovable character. Yesterday, Rickey went on the Jim Rome show and set the record straight – or thought that he was, anyway – about some of the legendary “Rickey” stories that have been floating around for years.
As one story goes, Rickey, while playing with the Mets, once went up to then teammate John Olerud, who was known for wearing a flapless batting helmet while on defense, and said that he had played with someone in Toronto who also wore a batting helmet while on defense. That person was actually Olerud, who was on that Blue Jays team with Rickey.
So, to set the record straight, here’s Rickey on Rickey stories. As you will hear, Rickey isn’t exactly the most articulate person to have on a radio show.
Now please excuse me as I try to translate…
“I knew John when he first got in the league…as a base stealer — I’m always on base – at first base we used to chit-chat when I played with Oakland, he played with Toronto.”
I love that Rickey still breams with confidence. “I’m always on base.” and he was — his career on-base percentage was .401
“To set the record straight, yes, I [probably] knew it faster than most people knew what John was doing, why he was [wearing] a hard hat.”
Interesting, but the story isn’t funny because Rickey didn’t know why Olerud wore the helmet, it was funny because Rickey allegedly didn’t know that they were teammates in Toronto.
Then, Rickey attempted to debunk the stories about him talking to himself during an at-bat…
“I used to go to the plate and a certain pitch, you know, I was so [competitive] I’d miss or certain pitches I didn’t want…the catcher to throw that pitch and it might have been a slider and I’d step out and I talk, seem like I’m talking to the bat, but really I’m reminding myself on what I gotta do up there and most people go, “Ohhh he talkin’ to the self”…I [inaudible] just let it go that, chuno people feel that you talkin’ to yourself, but it was reminding myself to bear down…it was really some motivation of getting me prepared to go out and battle.”
Aaaaand, exhale. So, in essence, Rickey is trying to explain that he wasn’t talking to himself by telling us that he would talk to himself, or his bat, in order to motivate or prepare himself for or during an at-bat. He’s wasn’t talking to himself, he was just talking to himself…and sometimes his bat. Got it.
There is no denying that Rickey is and was just a little different than your average baseball player both production wise and character wise. Honsetly, I don’t want anyone to debunk all of the Rickey stories that I’ve heard, because it’s those quirky stories, and quirky personalities like Rickey, that make the history of this game so captivating.