Rickey Henderson is looking forward to spending more time around the Oakland Coliseum field that the A's have named after him.
The Hall of Fame left fielder said he was surprised and honored when he got the call that the Coliseum playing surface would be christened "Rickey Henderson Field," describing himself as "a kid that grew up in Oakland who never thought he'd get a field named after him, especially a major league field."
Speaking with reporters on a conference call Tuesday, Henderson said he's looking forward to beginning his role as a special assistant to team president Dave Kaval, though he also wants to continue working as a roving instructor for A's minor leaguers, as he's done for several years now.
The A's will dedicate the field in an Opening Night ceremony April 3, before hosting the Los Angeles Angels. Look for the team to make more gestures to spotlight the legends who have worn green and gold. Some of the strongest feedback Kaval said he's gotten during his one-on-one meetings with fans is a desire for the A's to honor their heritage more.
The A's previously announced they're remodeling their in-stadium Bar & Grille and will re-brand it Shibe Park Tavern, a nod to their home stadium in Philadelphia.
"We have one of the most storied histories (in the major leagues), and I think it's important to honor those players and historic teams, and do all we can at the Coliseum, and do all we can to transport that to the new ballpark," Kaval said.
Naming the field after Henderson, the majors' all-time leader in runs and stolen bases, was a natural.
"Obviously Rickey is the greatest player we've ever had in the history of the Athletics," Kaval said. "It just seems such a fitting tribute to Oakland, to someone who's done so much for the club and the community. It just felt right in so many ways."
Kaval said he values Henderson's opinions as someone who knows how players think, and what fans would want in a new ballpark. The A's have narrowed their ballpark search down to four locations in Oakland - the current Coliseum site, Howard Terminal, another site near Howard Terminal, and Laney College.
Team officials got a tour of Howard Terminal last week - at least the second time the A's have toured that potential site. Holding the team's recent FanFest at Jack London Square, a short walk from Howard Terminal's waterfront site, also acted as a good "test run" for the site, Kaval said.
In light of the Warriors' plan to move to San Francisco and the Raiders' efforts to bolt for Las Vegas, Henderson said he's pleased to see the A's looking to stay in Oakland. He played on the 1989 World Series championship squad and made reference to some of the other winning teams he played on.
"I'm very excited just to be a part of an organization that's willing to go out and improve the club," Henderson said. "… We brought success here, and I think that's what Dave is doing now. The biggest thing is, yes, we deserve a new ballpark and the fans deserve to come out to a new ballpark."