I grew up in East Oakland. 74th & MacArthur. A short ride on the #57 Bus to Hegenberger Road and the Oakland Coliseum. I was smitten with the Oakland Athletics early on. Went to my first game in 1969, just a year after their arrival in the East Bay from Kansas City. It is a love affair that has endured, through good times (4 World Series wins) and bad (54-108 in 1979.) I am a lifetime Oakland A’s fan and I always will be.
Many greats have worn the green & gold uniform with white cleats. Hall Of Famers including Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Manager Dick Williams, Reggie Jackson and a hometown kid who is without a doubt, the single greatest that I have ever seen play the game, Rickey Henderson.
Besides his on field conquests, Rickey has a reputation for being a fun guy to talk to. Seemingly speaking his own language, calling things as he sees them or as he puts it, “I’m just Rickey being Rickey.”
In 1989 I had the opportunity to interview Henderson on the field during batting practice in Minneapolis. A memorable exchange, to say the least. I seriously couldn’t make this up. Here’s the actual transcript of my chat with him:
ME: How do you want to be remembered when you retire?
RH: Basically, that I knew how to shake up the game. Greatest leadoff, stealin’ bases, helping my team
ME: Which felt better, being drafted and making your debut in Oakland OR being traded back?
RH: Definitely breakin’ in. Exciting for me and my family to begin playin’ baseball in Oakland.
ME: Which one of your current teammates is the craziest?
RH: Well, based upon the fact that he likes to dance in the clubhouse, I’d say probably (PAUSE) Sorry man, I gotta take a s#&@!
ME: Uh….ok. Thanks Rickey! (said as he dashed off to the locker room leaving me alone, bewildered, with my tape recorder and microphone.)
So yeah, that happened. Gotta love Rickey!