The man of steal

Base­ball great Rick­ey Hen­der­son recent­ly gave the Hall of Fame induc­tion speech to end all induc­tion speech­es. He was a larg­er-than-life fig­ure in my child­hood, and he had a per­son­al­i­ty to match, often refer­ring to him­self in the third per­son. For exam­ple, "There are pieces of this puz­zle that Rick­ey is still work­ing out," in a dis­cus­sion of age and base­ball in an excel­lent New York­er pro­file. There was no third-per­son in the speech, but there was plen­ty of Rick­ey being Rickey:

As a kid grow­ing up in Oak­land, my heroes were Jack­ie Robin­son, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Reg­gie Jack­son. What about that Reg­gie Jack­son? I stand out­side the ball­park in the park­ing lot, wait­ing for Reg­gie Jack­son to give me an auto­graph … I said, 'Reg­gie, can I have an auto­graph.' He would pass me a pen, with his name on it.

The best part is that Jack­son is sit­ting behind him, crack­ing up, along with Robin Yount and var­i­ous oth­er liv­ing leg­ends. You can watch the whole thing, in three parts, on YouTube: Part 1 has some awe­some com­men­tary by Tony Gwynn and Torii Hunter; Part 2 is the begin­ning of Rickey's speech; Part 3 is the conclusion.


If tall heels hadn't been popular

Date­line: A Mex­i­can dis­cotheque in the ear­ly 1970s. "Rick­ey [Hen­der­son] had a pair of heels on that were about four inch­es high. Every­thing was fine until these peo­ple came in yelling that they had guns. Then they start­ed shoot­ing" … Hen­der­son ducked under a table as gun­fire strafed the room. When the shoot­ing end­ed, Hen­der­son looked down and saw a bul­let hole had gone all the way through the heel of his shoe. "If tall heels hadn't been pop­u­lar, Rick­ey Hen­der­son might have had his career ruined." The nar­ra­tor was for­mer Japan­ese base­ball leg­end, Randy Bass (aka Ba-su), from a 1987 SI pro­file: The Hottest Amer­i­can Import in Japan.