Richards: In search of the wild Rickey Henderson

From Lawrence Richards at The National Pastime Museum on September 28, 2015:

When the folks at the National Pastime Museum approved an essay on Rickey Henderson I was thrilled. I was going to write about somebody . . . LIVING! I immediately thought of Gene Wilder cavorting as Dr. Frankenstein in Mel Brooks’ classic, Young Frankenstein: “He’s alive! He’s alive!”

My first thought was to contact a friend who could put me in touch with the “Man of Steal.” My second thought was I didn’t know anybody who knew him. Undaunted, I figured I’d reach out to his representatives; surely they’d arrange a connection, be supportive of a brief interview for our prestigious website and newsletter. They were, with a caveat. His fee for speaking appearances, endorsements, and yes, interviews is $10,000.01. I’m not kidding about the .01. Perhaps they figure in negotiation they’ll cave for an even $10,000. Call me negative, but I didn’t think it wise to run this “offer” past TNPM. Somehow, it just didn’t seem cost-effective.

I visualized a compendium of Henderson moments, vignettes, and impressions. Charisma, star quality, and magnetism—the label nets out to the same thing: you’re riveted. Eyes best not or cannot wander. Henderson commands your attention just walking to the plate. He’s built like a premier halfback, which he was in high school. The lower half of his body is ridiculously muscular with legs that might burst thru the Oakland Athletic uniform he seemed poured into. At 5 feet 10 inches, as he took his stance, he appeared 5 feet 3 inches; head scrunched way down in close proximity to his knees. His bat was coiled behind him as he chatted up the catcher and the umpire. A friendly demeanor and disarming smile foreshadowed his brand of torture about to commence. The game and games began.

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Originally published: September 28, 2015. Last Updated: September 28, 2015.