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What Is RICKEY HENDERSON Doing in NEWARK?
Tom Verducci
June 23, 2003
The greatest leadoff hitter of all time is beating the bushes, trying to get back to the majors—and still leaving 'em laughing at every stop
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June 23, 2003

What Is Rickey Henderson Doing In Newark?

The greatest leadoff hitter of all time is beating the bushes, trying to get back to the majors—and still leaving 'em laughing at every stop

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After he signed a four-year, $12 million deal with Oakland late in 1989, Henderson complained every spring about being underpaid. To underscore his unhappiness, Henderson made a habit of reporting to spring training after the team's reporting date, though before the mandatory date established by the Basic Agreement. Trouble was, one spring teammate and star rightfielder Jose Canseco adopted the same tactic.

"Rickey was in town in Arizona," traveling secretary Mickey Morabito says. "But he didn't want to report before Jose did. So Rickey would drive into camp, and if he didn't see Jose's car parked there, he'd drive back out. Rickey made sure he was the last one to report."

Rickey's Favorite Pregame Routines

1. Flexing and swinging a bat naked or in his underwear in front of a full-length mirror, saying, "Rickey's the best."

2. Playing cards.

3. Playing dominos.

4. Ignoring meetings to review opposing pitchers. Henderson prefers knowing nothing about what they throw.

Henderson has played for eight major league teams, including the Athletics, with whom he has had four stints. It's easy for him to lose track of his teammates (box, page 78).

"There're countless guys that he's been teammates with, he has no idea of their names—countless," says Colorado Rockies bench coach Jamie Quirk, who played with Henderson for three years in Oakland. "It's not like if you got brought up from Triple A and walked in the locker room, Rickey's going to stick out his hand [to greet you]."

Henderson lockered next to Beane, then an outfielder for the Athletics, in 1989. Oakland sent Beane to the minor leagues. Six weeks later, Beane was called back to the Athletics.

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