Rickey slides into Cooperstown this weekend

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One of my all-time favorite players and the greatest leadoff man in
baseball history goes into the Hall of Fame this weekend, and there are
plenty of amusing Rickey Henderson stories popping up in preparation
for his induction.

For instance, Monty Poole of the San Jose Mercury News has an entertaining article
about Henderson’s mom, Bobbie, who was convinced that she was having a
girl until giving birth to Rickey Nelson Henley Henderson on Christmas
Day in 1958:

He was my Christmas baby and people always said he was like me. See,
Rickey’s always been stout. He wasn’t chubby, but he was solid.
Everybody would tell him he had his mama’s legs, his mama’s hips and
his mama’s little waist. I used to wonder if the reason he was built
like me was because I wanted a girl so bad. I thought I was going to
have a girl. I would even say I hoped it was a girl. …

Rickey got knocked out once playing football in high school, and
that really shook me up. I didn’t want him out there. He just got the
wind knocked out of him, but that was enough for me. I didn’t come out
and tell him to play baseball. I kept telling him I was with him,
whatever he did, but I really didn’t want him playing football.

Instead of being a football-playing girl, Henderson played the
fourth-most games in baseball history, notched 3,055 hits, went to the
All-Star game 10 times, won the AL MVP in 1990, set the single-season
steals record with 130 in 1982, and ranked as the all-time leader in
stolen bases (1,406), walks (2,190), and runs scored (2,295) at the
time of his retirement following an amazing 25-year career.

Years ago, when asked if he felt that Henderson was qualified for
Cooperstown, Bill James replied: “If you could split him in two, you’d
have two Hall of Famers.” He’ll go into the Hall of Fame in one piece
Sunday, but not before trying to get over his fear of public speaking
by practicing his induction speech for the past month in front of students at Laney College:

Speech and me don’t get along sometimes. I’m not a doctor or
professor, so for me to go and write a speech or read a speech, it’s
kind of like putting a tie too tight around my neck. It helped me a
lot. I had a lot of fun with it. I never thought I could come back to
class and have fun. But it gave me a chance to do something different
and work on some things. I talk so fast and my tongue kind of takes off
sometimes. … Shoot, I was scared the first time I got up and read to
the class.

Along with being an inner-circle Hall of Famer and easy first-ballot
selection Henderson was famous for speaking in the third person and
producing a never-ending supply of anecdotes (some real and some apocryphal)
thanks to his famous Rickey-speak. Here’s hoping that all the work he’s
put in polishing his speech won’t keep him from at least a few Yogi
Berra-like moments Sunday.

Brian Dozier, Todd Frazier, and Didi Gregorius say teams should expand protective netting

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Earlier, a young fan was struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium and had to be carried out before being taken to a hospital. Fortunately, it seems that the fan is okay.

As usual, when a scary incident such as today’s occurs, players come out in full support of expanding the protective netting at ballparks. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier as well as Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier and shortstop Didi Gregorius all said as much after Wednesday afternoon’s game.

Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis has also been a very vocal proponent of increased netting. For the most part, the players are pretty much all in agreement about the subject. It’s only a vocal minority of fans who seem to think that their ability to snag a random souvenir or have an unimpeded view supersedes the safety of their neighbors.

Video: Giancarlo Stanton hits a laser for his 56th home run

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Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton continued his march towards 60 home runs, hitting No. 56 in Wednesday afternoon’s win against the Mets. The Marlins, leading 7-2 prior to Stanton’s two-run blast in the bottom of the eighth, didn’t need the extra run support but welcomed it all the same. Mets reliever Erik Goeddel tossed a 1-1, 78 MPH curve that caught too much of the plate.

After Wednesday’s action, Stanton is batting .279/.378/.634 with 120 RBI and 116 runs scored along with the 56 dingers in 646 plate appearances. The last player to hit at least 56 home runs in a season was Ryan Howard (58) in 2006. Stanton’s is the 19th player-season of at least 56 homers.