Mark was very happy to see the greatest leadoff hitter of all time, Rickey Henderson, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this past weekend, and eagerly read a transcript of Rickey’s induction speech. Mark was disappointed that Rickey did not refer to Rickey in the third person, but was delighted by many other elements of Rickey’s speech.
Mark learned that induction into the Hall of Fame is a bittersweet moment for Rickey, because Rickey would prefer to still be playing baseball. (“I thought if Satchel Paige can still play in major league baseball at the age of 45, then with my dedication, hard work and desire, I can play the game until my body said it was time to hang it up.”)
Mark learned that Rickey Henderson initially hated baseball, but his mom wouldn’t let him play football (“I guess mom do knows best”), and then coaches bribed him: “Mr. Hank Thomas tricked me into playing Babe Ruth baseball by coming to pick me up with a glazed donut and a cup of hot chocolate… I did not like baseball. My counselor, Mrs. Wilkinson, bribed me into playing baseball. She would pay me a quarter every time I would get a hit, a run scored or stole a base.”
Mark learned that Rickey, like all baseball players, has total recall of his statistics: “After my first ten games, I had 30 hits, 25 runs scored and 33 steals.”
Mark learned that Reggie Jackson is a dick: “I stand out on the ballpark in the parking lot waiting for Reggie Jackson to give me an autograph. Reggie used to come out all the time and I’d say, ‘Reggie, can I have an autograph?’ He would pass me a pen with his name on it. He never gave me an autograph.” Mark also learned that Reggie Jackson was on the podium with Rickey during Rickey’s speech.
Mark learned that Rickey has never forgotten the opportunity given to him by Oakland A’s owner Charlie O. Finley, who used a mule as the team’s mascot: “Charlie, wherever you at, and that donkey, I want to say thank you for the opportunity.”
Mark also learned two seemingly paradoxical yet unimpeachably true facts. A) Rickey is the greatest of all time, and B) Rickey is very humble: “I am now in the class of the greatest players of all time. And at this moment, I am very, very humble.”
It’s true, Rickey is the greatest. Thank you, Rickey.