Hinch recalls Rickey as positive influence
New Hall of Famer was 'as entertaining as he was good'
PHOENIX -- Arizona manager A.J. Hinch offered the ultimate paradoxical Rickey Henderson story Sunday morning, as the greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history was taking his Hall of Fame bows in Cooperstown.
Sitting in the D-backs dugout as Henderson's induction was beamed on Chase Field's video board, Hinch pointed out that Henderson is his first former teammate to make it to the Hall.The former catcher also remembered that Henderson did not like to walk. Off the field, that is -- quite an irony for someone whose 2,190 walks on the diamond had broken Babe Ruth's 60-year-old record. Hinch, whose rookie 1998 season in Oakland coincided with Henderson's final season with the Athletics, recalled sharing a commercial flight with him to their Phoenix homes at the start of the All-Star break. As he deplaned at Sky Harbor Airport and started walking toward the baggage claim area, Hinch heard a shrill whistle and looked up to see Henderson gesture to him from a cart. "Rickey wouldn't walk to save his legs, so he'd gotten one of those carts to take him out of the airport," Hinch said. "So he gave me a ride to the baggage carousel." Hinch fondly recalled Henderson as "a good influence on young players," and as someone who was "as entertaining as he was good." Among the many traits that made Henderson a legend long before he became a Hall of Famer was, of course, his penchant for not remembering names. So when he was with the Royals in 2002, and prior to a run-in with a Boston team that included Henderson, Hinch bet Kansas City closer Roberto Hernandez that his former teammate would remember him. "I'd lockered next to him and figured the initials would have stayed with him," Hinch said. "Sure enough, we're on the field, Rickey sees me and waves, 'Hey, A.J., how you doing?' "So," Hinch summed up, "I collected on the bet and moved on."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.