Monday, August 3, 2009

Rickey's #24 Retired by the A's

After returning home from Cooperstown last week, after 5 days of Rickey mania, I knew that the fun wasn't over yet, as I still had Rickey Henderson Weekend at the Oakland Coliseum to look forward too.

But, based on the crowds at the game on Saturday, so did A LOT of other people, as the line to get in stretched to the end of the parking lot. The A's were expecting a big turnout for the game on Saturday, which would feature a pre-game ceremony retiring Rickey's #24, but I don't thing they were prepared for the mobs of people that showed up. The announced attendance was 35,067, which is considered a sellout for the current configuration of the Coliseum, and almost certainly the largest crowd of the year.

Once you finally got close to the gate, you still had to wrap around the front of the stadium a few times. The A's were giving away Rickey Henderson replica jerseys, and in order to get one, you had to stand in line at around 1:30, for a game that started at 6:05! Since I had my one-year-old with me, that was definitely not going to happen, so there would be no jersey for me (but I did get the Rickey banner on Sunday, which is the giveaway that I really wanted).

Although I've included quite a few pictures below, I hope everyone enjoys my photo essay of the day's events. I wasn't as close as I was for the Hall of Fame induction, but I think I still managed to get some decent shots. As everyone waited for the game to start, the A's showed a slideshow of pictures taken at the induction ceremony. It was pretty cool to be able to look at them and know that I took almost the exact same pictures.

His name and number were also shown on all of the digital scoreboards around the stadium.

When the ceremony finally began, ex-teammates of Rickey's arrived in classic cars and sports cars, with about eight of them in total. Here's Tony Phillips, who Rickey played with on the A's for quite a few years.

Arriving to chants of "Stewwwww," Dave Stewart is one of Rickey's best friends, and is also his agent.

It was finally time for Rickey to be announced…

…and he was presented with a burst of fireworks from the outfield.

Through the smoke of the fireworks, Rickey walked the red carpet, towards the infield and second base.

After arriving at gold-plated second base, Rickey gave the crowd a re-creation of his epic 939th steal of third base back in 1991.

The short ceremony was overseen by A's announcer Ray Fosse, as Rickey's ex-teammates surrounded him.

At one point, Jason Giambi, on behalf of the A's organization, presented Rickey was a crystal trophy utilizing a now iconic pose.

The A's presented Rickey with a framed jersey to commemorate the retiring of #24.

Rickey's three daughters then unveiled his #24 up on the outfield wall, which was followed by more fireworks and a blast of green and gold confetti. As you can see, the videographer decided to stand directly in front of the number the entire time, which was rather annoying.

Here's a close-up of the jersey which I took after the game on Sunday.

Rickey's jersey will stay on the outfield wall for a little while, and will then join the A's four other retired jerseys (Catfish, Fingers, Reggie, and Eck) on the outfield tarps.

Rickey threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game to Jason Giambi.

For both games this weekend Rickey's #24 was painted on the field behind home plate.

After receiving the ceremonial first pitch ball from Giambi, Rickey seemed to contemplate tossing it into the stands, but must have changed his mind. Behind him, in the retro-Rickey t-shirt, is the A's official photographer Michael Zagaris. Also behind him, which I didn't even realize until I cropped the photo, is the gold base which was used in the ceremony.

Although Rickey walked in along the red carpet, he left in one of the classic cars. Overall, it was a fun ceremony, and something that I'm definitely glad that I was able to attend. I did take some video of the ceremony itself, but the video itself is not that great, and may only be good for the audio. Either way, I'll try to edit it and get it posted up soon


TikiBird said...

I know you're now accustomed to your VIP media access, but I think that even without it, you got some great photos! ;) I'm glad you had a good post-trip Rickey weekend.

Although I'm sure Baby H would have liked to share your excitement at the ceremony, I'm sure he was much happier getting to run around and rearrange everything in the gift shops. :) (Our savings account, however, maybe isn't as happy with us spending lots of time playing in the gift shops!) LOL

'30-Year Old Cardboard said...

Great, Great stuff!! You, like Rickey, had an amazing week. Thanks again for sharing it with us!!!

tastelikedirt said...

Well done!

robe024 said...

Great pics Brad! It was awesome to be there and even though I didn't get a jersey, I can say that I was there for his jersey retirement and that's even cooler.

It was especially cool to get to meet you and chat with you and your family for a bit.

Good times and a great weekend!