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Rickey Henderson Biography

Known As Stolen Base King, Broke Records In Steals, Runs, And Walks, ChronologySELECTED WRITINGS BY HENDERSON:


American baseball player

One of baseball history's most prolific and long-careered players, Rickey Henderson is the sport's all-time leader in stolen bases, runs, and walks. With his powerful batting and speed, he has been deemed one of baseball's greatest leadoff hitters, and holds the record for most home runs at the start of a game (75). Since his 1979 major-league debut, the Golden Glove-winning outfielder and eleven-time All-Star has played on numerous teams, including the Oakland A's, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, and Boston Red Sox. Yet the Chicago-born athlete's stellar career has often been over-shadowed by his image as a boastful and egotistical player—despite his claims of being misunderstood. Still playing baseball and breaking records in the early 2000s, Henderson is regarded as a virtual shoo-in to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Richard Henley Henderson was born in the backseat of a car in Chicago, Illinois, on Christmas Day 1958. His parents separated two years later, and his mother, Bobbie, took Henderson and his siblings to live in Oakland, California. Here, Henderson attended elementary school and played baseball at local Bushrod Park. A star athlete at Oakland Technical High School, he played numerous sports; as a senior he rushed for 1,100 yards as a football player. He also distinguished himself in baseball, and was named to the All-Oakland Athletic League for three of his high school years. Upon graduating, the 5-foot-10 athlete received several football scholarship offers. Instead, he chose to forgo college and pursue a career in professional baseball. In 1976 the eighteen-year-old player was drafted in round four by the Oakland A's. He played as an outfielder in the minor-league farm system for the next three years, and was called up on June 23, 1979, for his first major-league game.

Rickey Henderson


(With John Shea) Off Base: Confessions of a Thief, HarperCollins, 1992.

Sketch by Wendy Kagan

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Famous Sports StarsBaseball