In a follow up to my previous post, the A's finally announced that they would be retiring Rickey's jersey #24 during Rickey Henderson Day at the Oakland Coliseum on August 1.
It's been fairly obvious for awhile that the A's had these plans in place, and I'm guessing that the little blurb that I found in their e-mail last week wasn't supposed to be there. Nevertheless, all is officially set now, and after a return from the Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, I've got another exciting Rickey Weekend to attend the following week.
Included below is the full text of the press release that the A's put out today:
Athletics Will Retire Jersey No. 24 During Rickey Henderson Day Aug. 1
The Oakland Athletics announced today they will pay tribute to all-time runs scored and stolen base leader Rickey Henderson, arguably the greatest leadoff hitter in major league history, by officially retiring his No. 24 jersey in pre-game ceremonies during Rickey Henderson Day Saturday, Aug. 1.
On-field festivities will honor Henderson prior to the A's game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Due to the extended program, game time has been moved back from 6:05 to 6:20 p.m. Team officials are scheduled to participate in the jersey retirement ceremony, as well as many of Henderson's former teammates and coaches. Included in that group are Dave Stewart, Dave Henderson, Mike Davis, Mike Moore, Bob Welch, Jesse Barfield, Rene Lachemann, Mike Norris, Bip Roberts, Shooty Babitt and Stan Javier.
Henderson, who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y. July 26, becomes only the fifth Oakland player in history to have his number retired. All five are members of the Hall of Fame, the previous four including pitchers Jim "Catfish" Hunter (No. 27), Rollie Fingers (34) and Dennis Eckersley (43), and outfielder Reggie Jackson (9).
"Rickey Henderson was the most exciting player in our franchise history and without question, the greatest leadoff hitter this game has ever known," said Lew Wolff, the A's owner and managing partner. "To honor him in this way is only appropriate. He re-wrote the record books and provided so many thrills for our fans over the years."
"This is a dream come true," said Henderson, a 10-time American League All-Star and 12-time AL stolen base leader. "When I was a kid growing up in Oakland, I could never have imagined this happening. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the Oakland Athletics organization for retiring my number 24. I would like to thank Jackie Robinson for opening the gates and allowing me to be to play the game of baseball. I would like to thank my family, friends and fans for their loyal support over all these years. This honor is for them, as well."
A hometown hero in Oakland, Henderson moved from Chicago at an early age and graduated from Oakland Tech High School. He played 25 major league seasons, including four stints with the A's that spanned 14 years (1979-84, 1989-93, 1994-95, 1998). He also played for the Yankees (1985-89), Blue Jays (1993), Padres (1996-97, 2001), Angels (1997), Mets (1999-2000), Mariners (2000), Red Sox (2002) and Dodgers (2003), and set major league records for runs scored (2,295), stolen bases (1,406) and walks (2,190, later eclipsed by Barry Bonds), and totaled 3,055 hits, 297 home runs and 1,115 RBI, with a .401 career on-base percentage. He also hit 81 home runs leading off a game, still a major league mark.
Some of his most shining moments came in an Oakland uniform. In 1982, he shattered the single-season record (118) by stealing 130 bases. In 1989, he rejoined the A's through a mid-season trade with the Yankees and helped propel Oakland to its last World Championship. In 1990, he was voted the American League MVP after batting .325 with 28 home runs, 119 runs scored and 65 stolen bases for the Athletics' AL title team. And perhaps his crowning achievement came in Oakland in 1991, when he broke Lou Brock's career stolen base record of 938, lofting third base high above his head in exultation as captured in one of baseball's most memorable moments.
The Aug. 1-2 weekend will be devoted to Henderson. The A's give away Rickey Henderson replica jerseys (sponsored by Pepsi) to 10,000 fans on Saturday, Aug. 1, while 10,000 fans receive a Rickey Henderson banner (sponsored by Kingsford Capital Management) on Sunday, Aug. 2. For more information on tickets for this special weekend, go to the A's web site at www.oaklandathletics.com.