Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rickey Puts on a Base Stealing Clinic

As I mentioned a few days ago, Rickey Henderson arrived at the A's Spring Training facility, and immediately jumped into action. Here's a link to the story by writer Jane Lee, the text of which is reproduced below. I've also included a few pictures by the SF Chronicle's Brant Ward, as well as a short video by the A's new beat writer, Jane Lee.

Henderson shares wisdom with A's

Hall of Famer serving as special baserunning instructor

By Jane Lee /

PHOENIX -- Rickey Henderson entered A's camp Saturday playing the part of his usual animated self, his still-chiseled frame and unparalleled enthusiasm for his hometown team on full display.

Luckily for many players, who gathered around the Hall of Famer like kindergartners do on a day of show and tell, he also brought with him a bag of tricks and tales -- and a message or two.

Among them: Once you accept failure, the game is easy.

"You do not fail if you try," Henderson said.

Another piece of advice: Hip action and eyes are invaluable tools.

"We train the whole body except them two things," he said. "You need your eyes in this game."

Finally, and most importantly, have fun. Baseball is a game, so treat it as such.

"When I came to the ballpark, I came to have fun," he said. "Now, kids worry about too much pressure. I went to a game last year and they weren't having any fun. I'd be ready to go home if there wasn't any fun. They're not having fun, and I think that's why they don't play as well."

On Saturday, there was no denying the fun being had by the 51-year-old Henderson, who will be popping in and out of A's camp during the next week as a special instructor on baserunning -- an art he revolutionized as a player in 25 Major League seasons.

"It's fun to me because I still enjoy the game," Henderson said. "I'm hoping I can teach the kids something to have more success. You love the game of baseball, so you love talking about it."

So for two-plus hours on the fields of Papago Park, Henderson shared his insurmountable knowledge and undeniable love of the game with anyone willing to listen. Not coincidentally, the speedy Rajai Davis racked up the most one-on-one time and walked away having tweaked his running approach for the better.

"I got to messing with him, and I showed him little techniques that I went through," said Henderson, who learned the same ones from a speedskater early in his career.

Henderson showed Davis a drill that involves sliding back and forth to make better use of the lower body. Davis lasted two minutes before being told in a playful way he had to hit 15.

"And guess what?" Henderson said. "He couldn't even stand up good. He was all wobbly. He had no balance, but then we kept talking. I said there's something you're doing wrong. Everything he did, he did flat-footed. I asked him how he got to be so fast when he's flat-footed.

"I said, 'Get a little on your toes,' and he never knew it made such a difference. And that's one little thing that changed him already."

Davis, who is expected to join Coco Crisp as the club's one-two punch at the top of the lineup in 2010, stole a team-high 41 bags last year, but Henderson estimated that the A's outfielder has the ability to tally 75 or 80 -- this coming from a remarkably versatile player who owns the all-time records for stolen bases in a season (130) and career (1,406).

"He's a good kid, and to me he's got the heart that he wants to be a basestealer," Henderson said. "The biggest thing is fear that I got to get out of him -- fear in him going out and taking control of the bases and changing the game."

Said Davis: "To get another perspective from a guy who has proven his success at this level in the Major Leagues is a great opportunity. I don't know how many teams get this chance to bring back guys who are in the Hall of Fame."

The swift past and present duo of Henderson and Davis became fast friends again Saturday after having met one another last year at an A's game -- at which a fan took a picture of the two before passing it along to Henderson.

"When I got that picture, I thought, 'They made that picture up,'" he said. "If I had the uniform on, we'd be the same person. Whatever I did, however I was standing, how I was leaning, how my legs were crossed, he had the same thing."

The similarities are endless, as are the possibilities of a speed-driven A's team with Davis and Crisp in tow. The latter, acquired through free agency this offseason, also caught the eye of Henderson, who relayed some advice that could potentially help Crisp and his surgically repaired shoulder maintain a healthy dose of headfirst slides this year.

"Coco's got a great idea of what he's doing," Henderson said. "He's got the injury with his shoulder and he'd still like to go headfirst, so we talked about the pounding. You slide headfirst, and to get away from hurting yourself and banging up your body, you have to ask yourself how close you can get to the dirt before you have to dive."

In doing so, picture an airplane, Henderson suggested. If you want to know what creates a smooth landing, ask a pilot.

"If they have a hard landing, it's because they don't have control of the plane," he said.

Translation: Come in low for less of an impact.

Sounds simple, but that's only because Henderson explained it. And that's why Billy Beane talked to him last summer about getting involved with the club.

"He worked with our kids in instructional league, and he was great," Beane said. "We've got a good group of young, potential basestealing guys. His personality is great to have around. He's quick to smile, and all the guys gravitate toward him.

"The only reason not to keep him out here too long is he looks better in uniform than anybody else."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rickey Henderson Collectibles...Now on Facebook!

I've been way behind the times regarding Facebook, as I finally joined a little over a month ago. But, I have always thought it would be a good way to expand the scope of the blog, and come into contact with even more Rickey Henderson fans.

Plus, due to the easy to update photo albums, I can post a lot more pictures than I can on the blog. So, I decided to create a "fan" page for the site. I've just started to update the page, but I've already included an album of Hall of Fame pictures much larger than those that I've shared previously.

I've also received quite a few questions from readers regarding notifications of updates to the site, and I haven't really had a good answer in the past. But, if they're members of Facebook, they'll now know almost immediatley when new content has been posted. If anyone is interested in following the site on Facebook, just click here. Hope to see everyone over there!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rickey's Back in Training Camp

Back in January of last year the A's hired Rickey to work in a "goodwill" role for the ballclub, and it was intentionally vague at the time what that actually meant. He had his first real chance to work with the club back in October, when he went to the A's instructional league, especially to work with #1 draft pick Jemile Weeks.

The Contra Costa Times has just announced that Rickey will be spending 4 days at Spring Training this year to work with the club. The full article can be found here, with selected excerpts included below:

PHOENIX — The A's hold their first full-squad workout Friday, and they'll have a VIP guest in attendance.

Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson will spend a few days in camp as a special instructor, spreading his baserunning wisdom to a team that will rely greatly on speed to score runs this season.
Henderson spent time in October helping out with the A's instructional league program in Phoenix, but this will mark his first major league coaching venture with Oakland, the team with which the all-time stolen base king spent four stints during his 25-year big league career.

"He'll be here the first day of position players (working out), and he'll be here four days," A's general manager Billy Beane said.

The plan calls for Henderson to offer more tutoring at the A's minor league camp, which opens full-squad workouts March 12.

The A's invited him to instructional league during the fall primarily to tutor second baseman Jemile Weeks, a 2008 first-round pick whom the A's envision as a future leadoff man.

"Really, once you meet him, it's an inspiration just knowing you're with a Hall of Famer," Weeks told Bay Area News Group recently. "He was showing me, I think, personal points that proved successful when he played. I just felt respected because a man of his caliber came down to my level and shared some information."

I'm hoping that sometime this year they ask him to work with the Sacramento River Cats, and maybe coach third base for a game or two. If they do, I'll definitely be making my way over there!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another Crazy Trade with a Rickey Collector

You never know when a new trade is going to pop up, but it's always exciting when it does! Although I missed out on all of the cards from approximately 2002-2007, Ryan did not, and lucky for me, he also gathered quite a few duplicates, which I was fortunate enough to help him unload.

I had a couple of cards that he was interested in, and coupled with a little extra cash, the following 12 cards arrived at my doorstop. Just getting 12 new cards at once is a feat in an among itself, but very rarely are they of this quality and variety. A lot of these would have probably soared way out of my price range if he'd listed them on eBay, and a vast majority of them I've never even seen listed before. Enjoy!

2002 Donruss Elite Status STAR 125 #/88 -- One of only two non-game-used cards in the lot. These early parallels are still pretty difficult to come across, and the red die-cut is pretty cool

2002 Leaf Limited Lumberjacks Bat 7 #/25 -- The only thing that could have made this card better, is if it also featured a piece of the vintage yellow Rickey jersey that he's wearing on the card

2002 Leaf Limited Lineups Bat/J.Canseco 9 #/50 -- I was particularly excited to get this card, as it's my first game-used combo with Jose. There are still quite a few rabid Canseco collectors out there as well, so anytime they're featured together on a card, it definitely demands a premium

2002 Leaf Limited Gold Spotlight M's 94 #/100 -- The other non-game-used in the lot, this was thrown in as a sort of replacement for another card that he was unable to locate

2003 Topps Pristine Bomb Squad Relics Refractors Bat RH #/25 -- Rickey only has two cards in the 2003 Topps Pristine set, the base Bomb Squad relic, and this refractor. It's always not to complete a "set."

2004 Playoff Honors Tandem Material Combo D.Sanders 23 #/25 -- Like the Canseco above, the Deion Sanders combo card is a nice addition to the collection

2004 Playoff Honors Quad Material Musial/Gwy/Brock 12 #/25 -- Wow, what a card! The front alone, featuring Rickey and a nice vintage Stan Musial swatch, is pretty awesome. But, flip it over, and you also get two more Hall of Famers, in Tony Gwynn and Lou Brock. Four Hall of Famers on what card is definitely something to get excited about.

2005 Absolute Memorabilia Tools of the Trade Swatch Single Jumbo A's Jsy 94 #/25 -- This is the first of three jumbo swatches I was able to pick up, and it's of course my favorite

2005 Absolute Memorabilia Tools of the Trade Swatch Single Jumbo M's Jsy 170 #/100 -- Now that I have three of these I'm even more tempted to try and track down the complete jumbo swatch set

2005 Absolute Memorabilia Tools of the Trade Swatch Single Jumbo Mets Jsy 168 #/98 -- Other than the A's, Mariners and Mets featured above, there's also another Mets version #/25, as well as an A's pants swatch #/75

2005 Absolute Memorabilia Team Six Swatch Single Los Angeles Dodgers 40 #/150 - The more of these cards that I track down, the more I'm intrigued by the set. I currently ave 43 cards from the set, but I still have a LONG way to go

2007 Topps Triple Threads Relics Combos Carter/Rickey/Molitor 97 #/36 -- This is my second card from 2007 Triple Threads, but my first combo card. The Molitor cleat patch is covered in dirt, which is pretty cool, as it's not something you see too often. Now I just need to track down to more of the Rickey variations, and I'll have at least one of each.

I want to once again thank Ryan for working out a trade, as it was definitely very much appreciated!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Personalized Cooperstown Replica Jerseys

One of the more frequent questions I'm asked by readers is how they can find an "authentic" Rickey Henderson jersey. You can always find numerous jerseys for sale on eBay, but most of these are manufactured second hand, and are not direct from the manufacturers.

Other than Rickey's yellow throwback A's jersey that was released during Hall of Fame Weekend, and can still be purchased here for $119.99, I did not know of any official sources of Rickey jerseys. Until now, that is!

I received an e-mail from the Hall of Fame's Online Store that there are now select jerseys available that can be customized with not only your own name, but that of any player as well. You could always buy personalized jerseys for yourself, but they would not allow you to get a name/number combination of an actual player (ie Henderson/24, Mantle/7, etc.).

Now you can get your own pinstriped Henderson jersey, or if you're not a fan of pinstripes, the Yanks road grays are also available. I guess, technically, there shouldn't be a name on the back of home jersey, but that's a technicality I guess you'll have to overlook.

Not a Yankees fan? Why not celebrate Rickey's World Series championship with the Blue Jays. Not many people remember, but Rickey was standing on 2nd base when Joe Carter hit his now famous home run.

There are currently 18 different jerseys to choose from, so not all teams are represented. I was really hoping for an early 1980's button-up A's jersey, so hopefully these will prove popular, and they'll add more teams and styles at a later date. I'll never be able to own a real vintage Rickey jersey, but a nice throwback, that I could actually wear, would definitely be an acceptable alternative.

Monday, February 8, 2010

New Oakland A's Collectibles Site

I just got an e-mail from John, a fan of the blog, who recently started a new site of his own, Oakland A's Collectibles.

Being as the sites only been around for a few days, he's already got some interested stuff up there. Plus, how can you not support a guy who promotes Rickey Henderson as his favorite player!

Although my collection is almost all Rickey-based, I do have a few random A's items as well. This program was actually given to me by my dad, and is from 1968, the A's first year in Oakland.

The next best thing to having something in your collection, is getting to look at all the cool items that other people have put together. I'm definitely going to be following John's blog, curious to see what he comes up with next.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Few Inserts, Parallels, and Oddballs

Sorry about the lack of posts lately, life has been getting in the way of the blog. Plus, within two days of each other last week, both my printer and scanner decided to stop working. A new one is on the way, but it's taking longer than expected.

These were some of the last scans that I made before the thing decided to blow up. Some of them are pretty random, but I'm excited about every one of them getting added to the collection.

1998 Leaf Fractal Materials Die Cuts NX 34 #/500 -- These are serial numbered to 500, but only the first 200 are die-cut. I'd never even seen one of these for sale until recently, but managed to get this one in a trade with another collector

1999 Ultimate Victory Parallel 100 69 #/100

2000 Pacific Prism Premiere Date 93 #/61 -- I found this one on someones random trade page while searching Google for a different card. It's always a nice surprise to stumble upon a nice Rickey parallel hiding someplace

2000 Pacific Omega Premiere Date 132 #/77 -- I got this in a trade for a couple of extra Topps U&H Legends that I'd acquired

2000 Private Stock Gold Portraits 92 #/99

2003 Playoff Portraits Promo 13 -- I found this in an eBay auction along with a similar Hideo Nomo card. The front is the regular 2003 Playoff Portraits, and it also can with the separate card saying it is a promo. For one reason or another, this one is not listed on the master Beckett checklist

1991 Star Home Run Promo (print run of 300 sets)
1991 Star Platinum Promo (print run of 200 sets)

1991 Personality Comics ("Stop the game, I just broke a record")
1991 Personality Comics ("Swoon over my hammy")

I really enjoy adding oddball cards to the collection, and they don't get any odder than this! These were included inside specially marked issues of Personality Comics. I think these were the only cards that 'spoofed" Rickey, but do to the odd nature of this set, I really can't be sure. Either way, I'm definitely glad to have them!