Saturday night was a special night for the Oakland A's and their dozens of fans. The A's retired local hero and recently minted Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson's number 24 in front of a sell out crowd, only their fourth of the season. While it wasn't the (fun-spongingly) humble and earnest number Rickey delivered in Cooperstown (full text and video links here) it did include some excellent self-deprecating humour.
First Rickey extended a gracious thank you to the great fans of Oakland for agreeing to lay down their arms 3 hours a night and enjoy one of the most exciting players of all time:
Most of all ... thanks to you, the fans. This is not just my day. This is you, the fans' day. ... You have shouted out, 'Run, Rickey. Run.' I need your help. Say it one more time.
After the crowd quickly and loudly indulged one final "Run Rickey, Run" chant, Ricky Henderson put on his comedy cap and took a few good natured jabs at his own persona:
"Rickey has tears in his eyes. Rickey has love in his heart for you," Henderson said. "Rickey is so very, very, very humbled."
Amazing. Many former teammates including Bob Welch, Dave Stewart, and Jesse Barfield, a former Blue Jays player and Yankee teammate of Rickey's hilariously wearing two jerseys at once in a lame attempt to remind fans why he was on the field, were all on hand to acknowledge the former A's great.
And great he was. I don't think anyone needs to be reminded of Rickey's greatness, but for posterity's sake I will note that Rickey's career on base percentage is over .400, his career OPS is more than .800, he stole a million bases and ended up with a .386 career wOBA. Career numbers made even more impressive if you're able to ignore the three years too many he hung around at the end while remembering he sustained these numbers over 20+ seasons.
So congrats to you Rickey Henderson, congratulations on making the transition from universally loathed me-first weirdo to transcendent baseball talent and good-natured eccentric. Here's hoping you're on hand in Cooperstown when a very similar player finally gets his call.