Rickey… damn near greatest of all time.

henderson-money

Oakland’s finest.

Poised between going on and back, pulled Both ways taut like a tight-rope walker, Fingertips pointing the opposites, Now bouncing tiptoe like a dropped ball, Or a kid skipping rope, come on, come on! Running a scattering of steps sidewise, How he teeters, skitters, tingles, teases, Taunts them, hovers like an ecstatic bird, He’s only flirting, crowd him, crowd him, Delicate, delicate, delicate, delicate – Now! – 

Robert Francis

People wax nostalgic about Ty Cobb and the other dead beat- dead ball honkies….but make no mistake, if my man Rickey was around and even ALLOWED to play with those bigots he would have stolen 2000 more bases.  Now before anyone gets crazy about an era they’ve only READ about, let me explain–In the dead ball era it was damn near prerequisite for someone to steal. If you had less than 50 in a season, you just weren’t that good.  (apparently they didn’t give a shit about sabermetrics, as in 2010 in the American League there were 1505 stolen bases and only 540 caught stealing. A success rate of 73.6% which is almost 22% higher than in 1927. And 1927 was a high year as the success rate for a SB in that era was usually well under 60%…. Ty Cobb’s stolen base percentage for his career was probably around 67 percent.) Of course, there is always the argument that the era that I speak of had a lackadaisical attitude towards balk calls and other mound chicanery… and that is true, yet I find it hard to believe that an inferior athlete such as Babe Ruth, whos home run trot is famous for its daintiness can actually have 123 career swipes…a mere 77 behind Jose “robo-athlete” Canseco. What the fuck is going on here? This sport makes as much sense as a 40-year-old divorcee in Ibiza….entertaining, wealthy, fun to look at, yet ultimately a head shaking affair.

Ahhhh…but isn’t life itself a head shaking affair? How can you make sense of the serial killer, religion, black holes, or the time I vomited on the subway.

You can’t.

….and by you I mean YOU…the reader. You don’t know shit. Admit it. You will want to fulfill your need to be “the correct party” and regale me with NUMBERS. I don’t need numbers….I’ve seen the greatest base stealer of  ALL TIME in my life time, and until they put robots on the goddamn field that will never change.

6 Comments

great post!! bringing the unknown to the forefront and what not. We gotta stay tuned for billy hamilton, but of course, he could steal 180 bases this year and still never compare to the multi dimensional power speed charisma Henderson.

He’s the only one who I ever saw truly steal a base. I think it was after 118 in 1982. He just bent down and pulled it off the hinges and took that bitch home or maybe it auctioned if off on the Ebay equivalent of that time.

Henderson easily ranks as one of the 5 top left fielders of all time (Williams, Musial, Yastrzemski, and Bonds being the others). I used to love watching him take a lead, the entire park knowing he was going. Then the pitchout and he was still safe by five feet. Easily the best base stealer ever saw; and having seen Lou Brock, that hurts to say :-).
Nice job.
v

Wow, dude. Great post. It is worth wondering where a player might rank among the all-time greats if he’d played a hundred years ago. And I have to wonder if he still speaks about himself in the third person, “Rickey going to the bathroom now, girl. Get the fuck out of my way.”

Thanks for the comments guys. Steve, I think Billy Hamilton played in Bakersfield in 2012. That city is so hot their team name is the “Blaze.” After taking a gander at his stats:he sure can steal a base, but strikes out way too much for a leadoff guy.

Reblogged this on Wax Cracker and commented:
Here’s a great post from Gary Trujillo over at Coco Crisp’s Afro. Keep up the great writing, Gary, and thanks for stopping by Wax Cracker!

I didn’t see this post until just now. Where did you see that poem at the beginning of the story about the base stealer? I read it in this great paperback book that I had when I was a kid, called “Sports Poems”. It was a compilation of great sports poems. Including that one. That’s one of my favorites.

Glen

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