I am very happy for two of my baseball guys in making the Hall of Fame. I was a Big Red Machine guy in that the mid to late 70’s and that was my team. But I certainly loved to see Jim Rice smack that ball all over the place in his Red Sox uniform. I thought Rice was dignified, and a straight up baller. At times the baseball writers can be a fickle bunch, but as he said in so many words, it’s good that he just made it in.
Now Rickey Nelson Henley Henderson was my favorite baseball player of all time. This man personified everything I loved about the game; power, speed, fundamentals, aggressiveness, grit, style, and a whole lot of fun. Rickey had the proverbial “it”! He made catching a fly ball spectacular with his trademark “snatch.” He stole bases like they were candy with unbelievable smarts and speed. He has the most home runs of any lead off hitter in the history of the majors.
One can just read about his stats here but that is still not enough. Rickey played for several different teams and of all the times I saw him play he never took a day off. He loved the game so much and it showed.
Equally amusing to me is the way Rickey would talk about himself in the third person. Few can get away with this without coming off as a jerk. Rickey did though because he never took himself too seriously. But the game… the game he played seriously and yet with a child’s heart.
I truly believe Rickey is one of the top 10 baseball players of all time. And in spite of his first ballot induction, he’s greatly underrated and underappreciated by sports writers.
Baseball would do well to keep him in the game in a pivotal fashion whether it’s with a baseball team or working for MLB to promote the game, specifically to young African-American boys.
Congratulations Rickey and Jim. Two deserving Hall of Famers!