Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice have taken their place in the Baseball Hall of Fame at induction ceremonies today. The long-time Oakland A led the American league in steals 12 times and is baseball's all-time stolen base leader with 1,406.
Rice starred for the Boston Red Sox and had at least 20 home runs in 11 of his first 12 seasons. He was the American League MVP in 1978 and is the only player to lead the majors in triples, homers and RBIs in the same season.
Henderson sped his way into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot earlier this year.
Henderson received 94.8 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, well above the 75 percent needed. Henderson was picked on 511 of 539 ballots. You have to get 405 votes to make it in the hall.
Rice, among baseball's most feared hitters in the late 1970s and early 1980s, got 76.4 percent of the vote after falling just shy with 72.2 percent last year.
Henderson, the 1990 AL MVP, was a 10-time All-Star who swiped 1,406 bases, just one shy of 50 percent more than Lou Brock, who is in second place with 938. Henderson batted .279 with 297 homers, 1,115 RBIs, 2,190 walks and 2,295 runs. He owns the modern-day, single-season record with 130 steals in 1982, and the career mark with 81 lead off homers. He played 25 seasons for Oakland, the Yankees, Toronto, San Diego, Anaheim, the Mets, Seattle, Boston and the Dodgers.
Hall of Fame voting is a fickle thing. Nine times out of ten, there are arguments to be made for or against almost anybody. Rarely is a consensus reached. And when it is, it's usually deserved.
So it is was Henderson. His early election places him alongside 2007's two nearly unanimous selections, Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn. Henderson got in for good reason as listed above.
Here's one more stat Rickey can add to his resume: He's only the 44th player baseball history to be inducted to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. As Rickey would say: Rickey deserved to be in the Hall of Fame, and Rickey got in.
BTW: Mark McGwire, stigmatized by accusations he used performance-enhancing drugs, received 118 votes (21.9 percent) in his third year of eligibility, down from the 128 votes he got in each of his first two tries.