Henderson to be honoured

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

Rickey Henderson spent 25 seasons in the majors and four times switched teams after opening day.

He hit .300 or better seven times in his career.

His worst seasons with the bat, starting with his lowest average:

In 1997, playing 32 games with the Anaheim Angels, he hit .183.

In 2003, his final year, in 30 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he batted .208.

And in 1993, playing 44 games with the Blue Jays, he hit .215.

Tomorrow, Jays fans will take a break from Roy Halladay all the day to remember Henderson when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Never mind his average with the Jays, Henderson had an on-base percentage that worked. He scored 37 runs in those 44 games.

We learned of the importance of on-base percentage from Dick Williams in 1979, long before the arrival of Henderson in 1993 or J.P. Ricciardi in the spring of 2002.

Also to be inducted into the Hall of Fame are Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Rice, elected in his 15th and final year of eligibility by Baseball Writers Association of America members, and Joe Gordon, a nine-time all-star with the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees who was elected by the veterans committee.

Former Jays and Yankees broadcaster Tony Kubek will be honoured with the Ford Frick Award. Former San Francisco Giants writer Nick Peters will receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award.

Henderson holds the records for stolen bases in a season (130) and career (1,406) and runs scored (2,295).

His .356 on-base percentage with the Jays was behind John Olerud (.473), Robbie Alomar (.408), Paul Molitor (.402), who finished 1-2-3 in the American League batting race in 1993, and Tony Fernandez (.361).

Henderson had a .393 OBP in the World Series, scoring six times, including the tying run on Joe Carter's Series-winning three-run homer off Mitch Williams. His two-run single in Game 4 cut Philadelphia's lead to one run and set the stage for Devon White's two-run triple and a 15-14 win.

"Rickey fit in. He was one of the guys, but he would talk about himself in the third person, like: 'Rickey hitting lead-off,' or 'Rickey like that,' " said ex-Jays trainer Tommy Craig from Melbourne, Fla., where he works for class-A Brevard in the Milwaukee Brewers system.

"Guys told the story about him getting on a bus before he came to us and a rookie being in his seat," Craig said. "A veteran told the rookie to move saying: 'Rickey, you've got tenure.' Supposedly he said 'Rickey got 15 years.'"

Henderson appeared in 56 games for the Jays including the post-season, but he's a fave around the Craig household.

"The night Joe hit the home run there was a celebration in the clubhouse," Craig said. "Everyone was excited over winning back-to-back. Rickey picked up my 8-year-old son by his feet, lowered him into the whirlpool and brought him back up. And now he's going into the Hall of Fame."

Geoffrey Craig, the 8-year-old back then, recently finished playing infield for University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. Geoffrey retells the story each year at Thanksgiving.

The Blue Jays sent former No. 1 pick Steve Karsay and Jose Herrera to the Oakland Athletics hours before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Back then, the Jays used to add talent for the final two months of the season.

The clubs agreed on the deal around 8:30 p.m., but Henderson had to waive his no-trade clause and wanted $2 million US. The Jays had a backup plan to acquire lefty Randy Johnson from the Seattle Mariners, but Henderson waived his no trade for $200,000.

"I didn't see him in my room much," Craig said. "Well ... there was that one time in Boston."

Henderson fouled a ball off his instep and Craig applied a gel pack around Henderson's foot for the prescribed six minutes.

FROSTBITE

Henderson took the pack off in time but rested his foot on the ice and was soon limping with a mild case of frostbite.

Three games later, Henderson was back in the lineup for a game at Cleveland, which the Jays won 6-4 with Jack Morris pitching.

Carter, Craig, Molitor and others will be in Toronto for the Back2Back reunion Aug. 7-9 at the Rogers Centre.

Rickey will be in San Diego where he will be honoured by the Padres.

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THE BOOK ON ...

Tampa Bay Rays LHP David Price

WHAT A MAJOR LEAGUE SCOUT SAYS: "He presently has an upside as good as any left-hander in the game.

"His ability in the end will be determined by how well he can throw his fastball over the plate. He's a tick below average when it comes to his fastball command, but with time that should be no problem.

"He has a touch above-average slider, an above-average cutter and his change is average. He has a chance to be a 15- to 20-game winner once he gets the feel of pitching. I know they are worried about his innings, but they should just let him go out and pitch.

"Price's arm doesn't sling as much as John Candelaria but it's almost as much. They were both 6-foot-6 left-handers with whip action in their arms."

Weakness: "There isn't a big one right now. Maybe his command of his fastball."

Strengths: "Great stuff and he's a great competitor. Anyone who saw him in the post-season last year could tell you that. He was in some tough spots."

Season Stats

W-L IP H BB SO ERA

3-4 50.0 49 33 53 4.86

Sun Rating: 4 out of 5

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THE TOP 5

FASTEST TO 500 DOUBLES

The hitters who needed the fewest games played (GP) to reach 500 career doubles:

TODD HELTON

1,749 GP

Comeback player of the year? Seventh among 1Bs in career doubles after hitting 500th Wednesday.

EDGAR MARTINEZ

1,942 GP

Forever a Mariner, he's 17th overall in career two-base hits for the same team. Stan Musial leads with 725.

JEFF KENT

2,038 GP

Kent had 560 in all, including three with the 1992 Jays before being dealt to the Mets for David Cone.

WADE BOGGS

2,059 GP

Finished with 578 doubles, 18th on career list, behind Cap Anson, ahead of Charlie Gehringer.

GARRET ANDERSON

2,067 GP

Fourth on active list with 505, behind Ivan Rodriguez (538), Manny Ramirez (519) and Ken Griffey (515).

NORTHERN LIGHTS

TYSON GILLIES, LANGLEY, B.C.

OF, HIGH DESERT, CLASS-A

Gillies had the most hits of the 116 Canadians in the minors, batting .400 (10-for-25) with a run batted in and four stolen bases. A 25th-round choice by Seattle Mariners scout Wayne Norton, Gillies showed he had a future at the Futures Game in St. Louis.

Runners-up: Mike Gosse, .429, Pitt Meadows, B.C. class-A West Michigan (Tigers); Kevin Mailloux, .429, Tecumseh, rookie-class Arizona League Mariners; Brad McElroy .409, St. Thomas, class-A Dunedin (Jays); Mitch Delaney, .400 rookie-class Gulf Coast Yankees; Emerson Frostad, .400, Calgary, triple-A Oklahoma City; Chris Emanuele, .375, Mississauga, single-A Lansing (Jays).

PAY DAY

Cambridge third baseman Jeff Hunt, a 15th-round draft selection in June, has signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and is off to Glendale, Ariz. The Dodgers gave a $150,000 US signing bonus to Hunt, who played for Danny Thompson's Intercounty Terriers and the Canadian junior team. He passed on a scholarship to Ohio University.


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