He doesn't hold the game's most cherished record, only its most important one. You'd think scoring 2,295 runs -- that is the object of the game, right? -- would get you something.

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 be worn again.

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 ...:

  • Henderson played more games (1,704), had more at-bats (6,140), scored more runs (1,270) and collected more hits (1,768), doubles (289), triples (41), walks (1,227), steals (867) and total bases (2,640) than any player in Oakland history.

  • He ranks second in on-base percentage (.409), third in extra-base hits (497), tied for fourth in batting average (.288) seventh in RBI (648) and seventh in home runs (167).

  • He won an AL Championship Series MVP (1989) and AL MVP (1990) and was named to six All-Star teams during his time with the A's.

    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.

  • Barry Bonds, fast approaching Henry Aaron atop the home-run charts, likely will be regarded as the greatest hitter of his generation. San Diego Padres pitcher Greg Maddux, he of the 335 wins, will be regarded as one of the two greatest pitchers, along with Roger Clemens. And inasmuch as good pitching beats good hitting, it's not surprising that Bonds' longest current homerless streak against one pitcher is against Maddux, who according to Elias Sports Bureau, hasn't served one up to Bonds in his past 33 at-bats.

  • After going deep 14 times in the New York Yankees' first 18 games, Alex Rodriguez encountered his own home-run drought. But he ended it with No. 15 in the Yanks' 31st game, making him the second-fastest Yankee ever to reach the mark. Mickey Mantle, according to Elias, hit 15 in his first 29 games of his Triple Crown-winning season of 1956.

  • In the 21st century, you're apparently never too old to go deep, or for that matter, to be taken deep. Just ask New York Mets old man Julio Franco and Arizona Diamondbacks' graybeard Randy Johnson. Franco (48 years, 254 days) connected off Johnson (43 years, 236 days) on May 4, making them the oldest combined batter-pitcher duo on a home run in the game's history.

  • Giants catcher Bengie Molina was not the oldest player to hit two home runs in an inning, but he may well be the slowest. Molina, who went deep twice in the fifth inning against the Mets on Monday, became the 51st player to accomplish the feat. Willie McCovey -- the last Giant to homer twice in an inning, in 1977 -- Andre Dawson and Jeff King are the only players to go yard twice in one inning on two occasions.

  • Of course, there's more to the game than home runs, though the Chicago White Sox may have needed a reminder. Chicago endured a string of 46 innings without scoring a run without the benefit of a home run before getting an RBI single by Paul Konerko in the first inning last Saturday.

  • The Twins don't need any such reminder. As a team, the Twins had produced only 18 homers through Thursday, and only five players -- Justin Morneau (eight), Torii Hunter (six), Michael Cuddyer (two), Luis Rodriguez (one) and Joe Mauer (one) -- had connected.

  • Speaking of home runs, it might be, it could be, it is ... another Caray in the broadcast booth. Josh Caray, 25, grandson of Hall of Famer Harry, son of current Braves announcer Skip and half-brother to Skip's son, Chip (also a Braves announcer), made his broadcasting debut with the Rome Braves in the Single-A South Atlantic League.

  • Rome wasn't burning on Tuesday, but a wild brush fire in southwest Florida was. The result: Thick smoke above Pro Player Stadium during the Marlins' 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Outfielder Eric Reed said he had to use Visine to ease the sting in his eyes when he led off the ninth inning, and Marlins left fielder Josh Willingham never saw a popup off the bat of Juan Pierre in the ninth. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez bailed him out, sprinting back and making an over-the-shoulder catch.

  • Reed, who singled in the ninth, later scored the winning run Tuesday, and was promptly rewarded with a demotion to the minors. The move had already been planned, but manager Fredi Gonzalez gave Reed the bad news Wednesday morning, saying he didn't have the heart to ruin Reed's big night.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates manager Jim Tracy took a quick detour to Single-A on Monday, but he called his trip "kind of a dream come true." Tracy watched his son Chad, a catcher/outfielder for Clinton of the Midwest League, for the first time in a pro game. He'll have to find time to do it again sometime; Chad Tracy went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBI with dad in attendance.

  • They won't be headed to the minors, but for several Chicago Cubs, a consultation with minor league baserunning instructor Bob Dernier wouldn't be a bad idea. In Tuesday's 1-0, 15-inning loss to Pittsburgh, Alfonso Soriano ran into an out at third base, cutting one rally short; Derrek Lee was thrown out at home plate for a double play when he tried to score on a grounder in the eighth; and Ryan Theriot was doubled off second base in the 10th after a line out to left. Dernier has been summoned by manager Lou Piniella to impart his wisdom.

  • Former Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager is working in the minors these days, and he's extremely fortunate to be doing so. Yeager needed almost 300 stitches to close injuries to his right arm, neck and ear suffered during a weekend automobile accident. Yeager, the hitting coach for Single-A Inland Empire, was en route home after last Friday's game in San Bernardino when the car in front of him hit the center divider, went airborne and hit Yeager's car. Yeager is at home recovering but is expected to return soon.

  • The Yankees have not received the greatest return on their $46 million investment for pitcher Kei Igawa. Last week, they optioned the former Japanese League pitcher to the minors. He'll spend time in Tampa working with pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras. Igawa appeared in six games, making five starts, and had a 7.63 ERA.

    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 rhurd@cctimes.com

    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

    FIRE

    Rule 5's

    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.

    Yankees pitching

    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.

    John Schuerholz

    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.

    ICE

    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.

    Ace pitching

    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).

    J.P. Ricciardi

    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.

    YOU DON'T SAY

    BY THE NUMBERS:

  • 6: Rookie pitchers who started for the New York Yankees in their first 30 games

  • 117: Years since a team had used six starting pitchers 30 games into a season. According to Elias, the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys were the last to do it.

  • 19-1: Career record of Houston Astros starter Roy Oswalt in games he has started vs. the Cincinnati Reds.

  • 5: Pitchers, according to Elias, who have started 19-1 against a team, after Oswalt joined Juan Marichal, Larry Jackson, George Cuppy and Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourn.

    FANTASY

    Use

  • BOB WICKMAN, Braves: He was 6-for-7 saving games before going on the DL, and he's scheduled to be activated this week.

  • TIM WAKEFIELD, Red Sox: Knuckleballers can be shaky, but Wakefield has been consistent. He's striking out people and leads the AL in ERA.

    Use less

  • CARLOS ZAMBRANO, Cubs: Is his lack of a new contract messing with his head? Whatever the reason, he's been brutal.

  • EDWIN ENCARNACION, Reds: If you hadn't noticed, he was shipped to the minors this week to rehab his swing.