If not that, then what about being the all-time leader in another category? Dive full speed into the dirt while swiping 1,406 bases, and clearly you've generated enough excitement to warrant some respect.
Heck, do the majority of those two things for your hometown team, and you deserve to be saluted.
Yet, Rickey Henderson hasn't been thanked. He hasn't even been called.
Instead, he tends to his 455-acre ranch near Yosemite National Park, riding horses, raising cows, and generally being out of sight, out of mind.
And for that, the A's -- that hometown team -- ought to be embarrassed.
No, not because they aren't willing to give Henderson the avenue to extend a 25-year career that will end in Cooperstown. Or even because they've turned a deaf ear to Henderson's repeated desire to retire where he started. To that end, they are hardly unique.
But the A's do stand out, because they'll let any Dan, Jermaine and Shannon don a uniform bearing No. 24.
Dunce caps all around.
Now, you might wonder why all the fuss over a number. But the truth is, the numerals on the back of a jersey are symbolic, as much a defining characteristic of a player as any of the five tools. And save for getting a call from the Hall of Fame, a player can receive no bigger honor that his number won't
Henderson deserved that reward a long time ago. Yeah, he has made it clear he'd prefer his career not be considered over, but a Roger Clemens-like contract is probably not going to be in the offing anytime soon. And even if it were, the A's certainly aren't a candidate to give it.
Thus, they should act promptly to upgrade a lousy record of honoring their past. Henderson may have started out as No. 35, but he chose No. 24 upon his trade to the New York Yankees in 1984 -- out of deference to Willie Mays -- and upon his return to Oakland in 1989 he became the closest thing to Mays the A's have seen.
He kick-started their 99-win regular season. He dominated the American League Championship Series against Toronto. He hit a leadoff homer to start off the clinching win against the Giants in the World Series. In short, he made it clear that from that moment forward, he was the only player deserving of No. 24. Yet, in just the past five years, Shannon Stewart, Dan Haren and Jermaine Dye have sported it. Nothing personal against those players, but consider ...:
No other Oakland A's alum can match that history. Not starting pitcher Catfish Hunter. Not closers Rollie Fingers or Dennis Eckersley. Not even fellow outfielder Reggie Jackson.
Of course, the above quartet all have their plaques in the Hall of Fame, and their A's numbers on the tarp atop Mt. Davis at McAfee Coliseum. The A's policy has been to honor only those in the Hall, but in this case, an exception needs to made.
The oversight also could be the residual effect of a career spent being heard as well as seen. Henderson never shied from letting his feelings be known, and those feelings often concerned money and the fact that he wasn't making enough of it.
That said, the team put aside a long estrangement with Jackson by retiring his number in 2004, and Jackson was never a guy to overlook a dollar. The A's, for their part, don't seem to be singling out Henderson. Fellow Oakland product Dave Stewart -- as every much a star for the A's in the community as he was on the field -- hasn't been honored, either. Ditto Bert Campaneris, Joe Rudi and Vida Blue, to name just three vital components of three straight World Series champions in the 1970s.
Still, those slights are not nearly as egregious as the one given to Henderson. In an era in which a 45-year-old can get $1 million a start, this 48-year-old deserves at least a tiny fraction of that love.
The A's should show some class and offer it.
Information for this notebook was obtained from writers in other cities, Bill Arnold's Beyond the Box Score, various wire services and the Internet. Unless otherwise noted, stats reflect games through Thursday. Contact Rick Hurd at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rank, team Comment Prev.
1. Red Sox Josh Beckett is fourth BoSox ever to win first seven starts 1
2. Braves Have scored 88 runs with two outs 3
3. Mets Carlos Delgado still hasn't gotten hot yet 4
4. Tigers Jeremy Bonderman has allowed 14 of 23 runs in first inning 6
5. Brewers Time to find out if they're really this good 7
6. Indians They're chewing up right-handers (17-5) 2
7. Dodgers Scored 6 runs during 49-innings stretch last week 5
8. Angels Nobody turns double plays as frequently as they do 8
9. Yankees Jason Giambi has a bone spur in his heel 9
10. Padres David Wells appears to be showing his age 10
11. D'backs Does this team even have an identity yet? 11
12. White Sox Jose Contreras : 2.29 ERA in 6 starts since Opening Day 15
13. A'S By hanging around, they're just doing what they do 13
14. Giants Todd Linden the latest failed non-pitching prospect 12
15. Twins Torii Hunter still wowing more with glove than bat 14
16. Phillies Ryan Howard striking out a frightening rate 17
17. Marlins Jeremy Hermida's return should happen soon 18
18. Mariners The King (Felix) is nearly back; will he still be dominant? 19
19. Rockies Troy Tulowitzki starting to produce like expected 21
20. Cardinals Even Dave Duncan can't do miracles: Kip Wells 1-6, 6.59 24
21. Pirates A .500 season possible if they solve offensive woes 22
22. Astros Lance Berkman has homered 38 times in Cincinnati 23
23. Cubs Base-running miscues are happening far too often 26
24. Reds Two saves for their bullpen since April 15 20
25. Rangers Mark Teixeira, Michael Young are starting to warm up 28
26. Orioles Ramon Hernandez is destroying the ball 29
27. Blue Jays Time for a change at the top? 16
28. Royals Comeback hits a bump: Zach Greinke to the bullpen 25
29. Devil Rays Nobody allowed more hits (56), runs (37) than Jae Seo 27
30. Nationals On second thought, maybe 120 losses is doable 30
Rarely has the Rule 5 draft ruled like this. Cincinnati's Josh Hamilton is the leading NL Rookie of the Year candidate; Joakim Soria has emerged as the Royals' closer; and Kevin Cameron hasn't allowed a run in 14-1/3 innings for the Padres.
Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and Chien-Ming Wang started consecutive games for the first time in 2007 (all wins), and now Roger Clemens' arrival is imminent. Now, if the Yanks can just get Mariano Rivera well.
One winter of fixing is all it took for the Atlanta Braves general manager to have his team looking like playoff contenders again. Schuerholz's rebuilt bullpen had spurred the Braves' 22-12 start.
The Clemens rules
Never has a player enjoyed perks like Clemens, and apparently not everybody is thrilled. Astros manager Phil Garner and former Clemens teammate David Wells aired their annoyance. They likely aren't alone in their feelings.
How many Opening Day starters are failing to live up to expectations? Try the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano (5.83 ERA), Cincinnati's Aaron Harang (5.04), Baltimore's Erik Bedard (4.79), and even Minnesota's Johan Santana (3.40).
The Blue Jays GM has had several winters to tinker, but his Blue Jays are no closer to conquering the AL East. Lying about the nature of closer B.J. Ryan's injury didn't cast him in a favorable light, either.
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