Monday, March 4, 2002 Updated: March 7, 11:30 PM ET
Special to Page 2
Rickey Henderson is the greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history and has
scored more runs than any other player.
He also has changed uniforms almost as often as anyone else. The Red Sox are his eighth team, the most
ever for a player who will wind up in Cooperstown when he retires. If he ever retires.
He stole 25 bases at age 42 last year in addition to breaking Ty Cobb's career run record, Babe Ruth's career walk record and reaching the 3,000-hit mark -- and now he's back for his 24th season.
Page 2's Jim Caple sees if Henderson still has enough left in him to take on 10 Burning Questions
1.You broke in with Oakland when MC Hammer was Charlie Finley's assistant general manager. What was he like?
Rickey Henderson: He was a great kid. Very intelligent as a young man. Charlie Finley picked him up and made him his right hand man because he didn't have an assistant general manager. He did a good job. His responsibilities were bringing down the lineup, passing out the meal money, seeing that the equipment was packed.
Did he dance for you?Henderson: No, he wasn't singing or dancing then. Charlie just took him under his wing like he was his kid.
2.This is the eighth team you've played for. Which is the best-looking uniform you've worn?Henderson: Oh, man. I'll have to go with the old green-and-gold with Oakland. I liked the style. I think, back in the day, Charlie Finley was more with the color and style. He was more creative. That's why he wanted the orange baseballs.
3.You're 43 and still one of the fastest guys on your team. What's the secret to staying young?Henderson: The secret to staying young? Staying out of trouble. Getting
proper rest, eating right. And living right, not doing the hard stuff that will get you into crap.
4.Manny Ramirez is wearing your number, 24, for the Red Sox. How much will you pay him to get the number?
Henderson: I'm not going to pay for 24. I think I could have had 24, but I understand the man who's got it respected me and would have given it up, but I think he deserves it as much as me. So it doesn't bother me. But I'm not going to wear 12. My family doesn't want me to wear 12. I'm going to go with a different number. I think I'm going to go with 35, my old number with Oakland. We'll see what happens.
Who has it now?Henderson:Darren Oliver. He's looking for a certain number, somebody has that number, so we'll see what happens. Number doesn't mean anything until the season starts, and we're all on the team. Then we can worry about the numbers.
5.You are one of the rare players to throw left-handed and bat right-handed. How did that happen?Henderson: All the other kids playing around me were batting right-handed, so that's the way I thought you were supposed to do it, so that's what I did, too. At one point, I wanted to be a switch-hitter and try the left side, but I was hitting .300, .350 in the minors, and they wouldn't let me do it.
6.Runs are the most important stat in baseball, and you broke a record
that was almost 75 years old. Why didn't people pay much attention to the runs record last year?Henderson: There was so much other stuff going on. I think people paid attention, but the press didn't pay much attention, and that's the key to everything. It all depends on what the press does. That's why people pay more attention to the home runs. That's why they were more upset about the home runs, and they didn't really realize what I was doing. But it didn't bother me. I did what I wanted to do. And that was based on going out there and scoring runs.
7.Why do people focus on RBI more than runs?Henderson: I don't know. The big guys are the home run guys, and when they hit a home run, they get an RBI too, so that's what they pay attention to.
8.Which superpower would you want most -- the strength of 100 men, the ability to fly or the ability to turn invisible?
Ty Cobb will have speedy company in the Hall, if Henderson ever retires.
Henderson: I'd take the ability to be invisible. Because I could move around and no one would know what I was doing or where I was.
9.With 3,000 hits and the most runs of any player in history, what goals do you have left?Henderson: Winning. That's the biggest thing of all. Going out there and helping the young kids understand the game and understand what it's really all about.
10.Is there anyone out there who even you consider too much of a hot dog?Henderson: I don't consider anyone a hot dog. If you've got a little style and you're playing with style, that's not being a hot dog. That's show business, not hot-dogging.