When you mention base stealing in the game of baseball, one player that knows a thing or two about that is Rickey Henderson. Nicknamed the “Man of Steal” Henderson holds the major league records for career stolen bases, unintentional walks, and leadoff home runs.
He also holds the single-season record for stolen bases with 130 during the 1982 season. During his playing career, opposing teams already knew that he was going to steal, yet they still could not get him out.
Rickey Henderson’s MLB career
Henderson made his major league debut with the Oakland Athletics in June of 1979. In his first season, he batted .274 with 33 stolen bases playing in 89 games. The next season he became the third modern-era player to steal 100 bases in a season. He was also named an All-Star that season as well.
The Hall of Fame star was becoming one of the top baseball players early on in his career. In 1982 Henderson broke Lou Brock’s major league single-season record by stealing 130 bases. At the All-Star break of that season, he stole 84 bases.
Henderson was an all-around great player, and he had the speed, power, and defensive skills. In his first stint with the Athletics, Henderson made the All-Star team four of the six seasons he played there. He also won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award. After spending six seasons in Oakland, Henderson was traded to the New York Yankees.
He was a four-time All-Star and a Silver Slugger Award winner with the Yankees. He continued to rack up the stolen bases leading the American League in 1986 (87) and 1988 (93). After his time in New York, he rejoined the Athletics in 1989. That season he led Oakland to their first World Series title in franchise history as they defeated the San Francisco Giants. Two years later, Henderson broke an MLB record when he stole the 939th base of his career.
In 1993, Henderson won his second World Series title as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. He would then go on to finish his career playing for the Athletics again, the San Diego Padres, and the Anaheim Angels. He finished his career with 1,406 stolen bases, 2,295 runs, and 81 leadoff home runs. He also was the AL MVP in 1990.
How was Henderson so successful
The 12-time AL stolen base leader knew how to get on base. Former teammates and opponents would talk about how good he was. “He was, by far, the most dynamic leadoff hitter I’ve ever seen,” former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan said. “If you got 2-0 on him, you were fearful of throwing it down the middle because he could hit a home run. But if you threw ball three, he was going to walk, and then he’s on second base.”
Henderson was ahead of his time, the things he did during his career were terrific. He was a once in a lifetime type of player. The MLB may never see a player who did the things Henderson did again.
He was a smart hitter at the plate; he had an excellent eye and knew how to draw walks. When he was on the base paths, he knew when the right time to steal a base was, and his speed gave him a really good advantage at being successful.
How Rickey Henderson impacted baseball
There was a reason why he was nicknamed the “Man of Steal.” Henderson opened the doors for future base stealers after him. Many players would study how he was so successful in that part of the game.
To be able to steal as many bases as Henderson did takes a lot of skill and hard work. He was able to exploit his abilities the right way, and his success led him to be one of the best players in the game of baseball.