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Quote of the Day: Rickey Henderson on how to be a good base stealer

Jun 24, 2013, 2:34 PM EDT

Rickey Henderson #24

It all begins with one thing: getting on base. And that, in turn, begins with one thing:

“Learn the strike zone,” he said. “What is your strike zone? Stay inside your strike zone.”

Henderson gave an interview to USA Today about all of this while at the Yankees Old Timers Day yesterday. In it he talked about the role of the leadoff man and plate patience in general. It’s good stuff.

Those dudes who of late have been writing the “batters are being too patient and are trying too hard to work the count” stories should probably ask Rickey about that.

  1. specialkindofstupid - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    A Rickey Henderson quote not spoken in third person? Wow.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      You don’t understand, Ted Berg is Rickey’s pen name 😉

    • ch0psuey - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:14 PM

      Ricky Approves this message

  2. brianincbus - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    My all-time favorite “Rickyism”. Rickey struck out and as the next batter was walking past him, he heard Henderson say, “Don’t worry, Rickey, you’re still the best.”

    • brianincbus - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:45 PM

      Damn, Rickey would not be happy with me misspelling his name

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      My all time favorite Rickeyism…
      Rickey was holding out for more money while playing for the Padres.
      He was serving as HIS OWN AGENT.

      After a fairly lengthy hold out Rickey calls Padres GM Kevin Towers.
      Phone rings….
      Kevin Towers: “Hello.”
      Rickey: “Kevin. This is Rickey…calling on behalf of Rickey.” “Rickey would like to play ball.”

      • ch0psuey - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:17 PM

        As crazy and old as Rickey was when he was on the Padre’s, it was still an honor to watch him play for us. Wish my son was old enough to see him play as well.

    • hpjoker - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      I love this one.

      In the last week of his lone season with the Red Sox, Chairman Tom Werner asked Henderson what he would like for his ‘going-away’ gift. Henderson said he wasn’t going anywhere, but he would like owner John Henry’s Mercedes. Werner said it would be tough to get the same make and model in less than a week and Henderson said, “No, I want his car.” Turns out the Sox got Henderson a Red Thunderbird and when he saw it on the field before the last game of the season, Rickey said, “Whose ugly car is on the field?”

  3. mdpickles - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    Watching Rickey play is one of my greatest baseball memories from my youth. There hasn’t been a player since that mixed patience and aggressiveness when needed. Mdpickles thinks he is the ultimate leadoff hitter. :)

    • nostredummass - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:08 PM

      Tim Raines

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:26 PM

        Rickey Henderson thinks Tim Raines thinks Rickey Henderson is a damn fine baseball player.

      • cohnjusack - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:30 PM

        I think you forgot to finish your sentence.

        Probably should have ended with “…was not as good as Rickey Henderson”

        *not to knock Tim Raines, who was stupidly great

  4. chip56 - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    I saw Henderson on Sunday at Old Timer’s Day. Give him a month in the minors to get in shape and take a few at bats, he could easily be a reliable 4th outfielder for most MLB teams.

  5. bigmeechy74 - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    “Those dudes who of late have been writing the ‘batters are being too patient and are trying too hard to work the count’…….” My 2 favorite teams are the rays and the cubs and I’ve noticed that whenever they come up to the plate with runners in scoring position they almost ALWAYS take a fastball right down the middle to start the AB. Then they end up either striking out or hitting a weak grounder on a 1-2 count. It drives me f-in crazy. So I think there is something to be said for the batters trying too hard to work the count

    • GoneYickitty - Jun 25, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      I don’t understand what Craig is trying to say. Knowing the strike zone and staying in it has nothing to do with being aggressive or passive … you could be either and still know the strike zone and stay in it. It means you’re not swinging outside the zone.

      And what exactly does Craig disagree with people about? Is he saying that Henderson is proof that you’re better off passing on a get-me-over fastball early in the count so you can test your luck hitting a pitcher’s pitch with two strikes on you later? Because I don’t think Henderson is a good example of that. Sure he took walks … pitchers were scared of him because he destroyed hitter’s pitches and he was good at fouling off borderline pitches and extending AB’s.

  6. sdelmonte - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Why the photo of him as a Met?

    • paperlions - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      …and what is with the tiny helmet? Is he trying to be more aerodynamic?

  7. missingdiz - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Rickey didn’t always take a lot of pitches. First pitch fastball down the middle, he’d take a good cut and sometimes hit it out of the park. But he didn’t chase bad pitches.

    There have been a lot of great baseball players that I’ve seen play once or twice at ballparks. But of the players I’ve seen play frequently–live, not on TV–Rickey was easily the greatest. And the most fun. Some pitchers (e.g., David Cone) sometimes completely lost their composure when he was on base. And some catchers (e.g. Ernie Whitt) were destroyed.

    Although he didn’t get much of a formal education, and did say some strange and funny things, he was baseball smart. He didn’t make many mistakes.

  8. Walk - Jun 24, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    I remember watching rickey play when he was with Oakland. When he made it to first he would be on third shortly, some times before the next batter had even finished his at bat. He is still the only player I wished my team would have thrown at and and hit, right in the calf so we might have had a chance at keeping him on first. Tim raines and to a lesser degree vince coleman were the only other leadoff hitters I recall being so worried about and they were nowhere near a close second in my mind of those who played during roughly the same time period. Vice was a good player but rickey and tim would take you out of the park if you tried a get me over pitch on the first pitch of the game.

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