- Alan Schwarz, MLB
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On Thursday night in San Diego, when the San Diego Surf Dawgs take on the Long Beach Armada what, you don't have tickets yet? Rickey Henderson will stride to the plate in his new Dawgs digs to begin his 30th season of professional baseball. So what if it isn't the majors, but the startup, independent Golden Baseball League? When was the last time you scored three grand a month for playing ball?
Henderson will, of course, do this at the age of 46. Which got us to thinking: When you come across a leadoff man older than "Oil Can" Boyd who, by the way, is now lacing 'em up for the Brockton Rox of the Canadian-American League some in-depth examination is in order.
Without further adieu:
Henderson is so old, he once played a major league game the same day as Lou Brock and Jesus Alou, as well as Bud Harrelson and Vic Davalillo. Not to mention Mark Fidrych, David Clyde and Catfish Hunter.
Henderson is so old, one of his former teammates (Tommy John) and one of Babe Ruth's teammates (Lefty Gomez) shared a teammate (Early Wynn).
This is all fine and dandy, but the best way to gauge age when it comes to Henderson is to take a look at the people he is older than folks who aren't still lacing up the spikes to play baseball every night.
Henderson is older than Terry Francona, Ozzie Guillen, Bob Melvin and Lloyd McClendon.
He is older than Floyd Youmans, Jack Fimple and Frank Eufemia.
He is older than Billy Jo Robidoux.
Henderson is older than Bill Gullickson and Charlie Hudson. Come to think of it, he's also older than Britt Burns and Richard Dotson.
He is older than Cal Ripken and Ryne Sandberg.
He is older than George Bell, Rob Deer, Pete Incaviglia and Jesse Barfield.
He is older than Joe DeSa, which is quite a trick, given that DeSa has been dead almost 20 years.
He is older than Shooty Babbitt and Buddy Biancalana.
Of course, Henderson is older than not just these baseball notables, but dozens from other sports and walks of life. For example, he is older than Willie Gault and Vai Sikahema.
For the New York Giant fans among you, he is older than Lawrence Taylor, Joe Morris and Butch Woolfolk.
He is older than Art Schlichter.
He is older than Cris Collinsworth and Neil Lomax.
He is older than Renaldo Nehemiah.
Interlude: Rickey Henderson is older than the Barbie Doll, non-dairy creamer and the audiocassette.
Moving back to sports, Henderson is older than Isiah Thomas and Mark Aguirre.
He is older than Clark Kellogg and Ralph Sampson.
He is older than Danny Ainge.
He is older than Sleepy Floyd.
He is older than Kurtis Blow, for heaven's sake.
Rickey Henderson is older than Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe. He is older than Tracy Austin.
He is older than Nadia Comaneci.
He is older than M.C. Hammer, "Weird Al" Yankovic and Sheena Easton.
He is older than Tatum O'Neil.
He is older than Nastassja Kinski.
In the end, it appears as if the only person Rickey Henderson is younger than is ... (drumroll) ... Julio Franco.
But then again, aren't we all?
"I'm not a proud man," Franco said last weekend in Boston. "But I am proud of that."
Alan Schwarz is the senior writer at Baseball America and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. His book, "The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics," is published by St. Martin's Press and can be ordered on Alan's Web site.