Henderson might get chance to retire in A's uniform

Updated: May 18, 2007, 2:57 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Rickey Henderson would love to call himself an Oakland A one last time. From the sound of it, A's general manager Billy Beane might be able to accommodate the self-described "greatest of all time."

For the first time, Beane said Thursday he might give the 48-year-old Henderson the opportunity to retire in an A's uniform, likely when rosters expand in September, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

"I'm disappointed about how my career ended," Henderson told the Chronicle by phone this week. "I haven't had the time to say, 'I'm retiring.' But baseball says, 'You're retired.' Every other player has had the chance to say they're through. I want to go out and say, 'I'm done. I'm happy.' Give me a chance to retire."

Baseball's all-time leader in stolen bases and runs scored insists he still can perform at the highest level. According to the Chronicle's report, the A's would consider the one-day scenario as long as the roster at that time can accommodate such a move and if details are settled with Henderson in advance.

"We're not going to infringe on the integrity of the roster or of the season," Beane said, according to the newspaper.

When told Thursday that Beane might have interest in bringing him back for one last game, Henderson sounded interested but said, "Why aren't I hearing that from Billy?"

According to the Chronicle, A's officials do not want to be in the position of bringing Henderson back for one final game only to have him then insist he should remain on the roster for the rest of the season.

Henderson has been spurred on by the idea of returning to the majors since since hearing the soon to be 45-year-old Roger Clemens' announcement May 6 that he would pitch again this season.

"Seeing Roger come back, all the seed that it plants is ask me to come back one time," Henderson said. "I see Roger can come back and play. I can come back and play. ... Players they put on the field nowadays, they couldn't make it in my day. They'd get sent back to Triple-A."

Oakland has been ravaged by injuries this season, particularly to its outfield. Mark Kotsay and Bobby Kielty remain on the disabled list, Milton Bradley was out for most of April and continues to nurse injuries, rookie Travis Buck needs to have his sore wrist examined, even Chris Snelling, acquired on May 2 Washington as a stopgap, is now on the DL for the eighth time in his career.

Henderson, a special instructor for the Mets this season, played in the independent Golden Baseball League two years ago but failed to attract the attention of big league teams. He hasn't played in the majors since appearing in 30 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003, his 25th year at baseball's highest level.

Henderson is the career leader in runs scored (2,295) and stolen bases (1,406) and is second behind Barry Bonds in walks with 2,190. He also has 3,055 career hits, 297 home runs, won the 1990 AL MVP award and made 10 All-Star games. He won an AL Gold Glove in 1981 as an outfielder with Oakland.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.