Rickey Henderson goes into the Baseball Hall of Fame as an Oakland Athletic, and rightly so. While Henderson moved around frequently throughout his career, the majority of his years were spent in Oakland, and it was in an A's uniform that Rickey accomplished his greatest feats and garnered the most recognition.
But at the Pinstripe Report it is always remembered that Rickey Henderson, for four and a half years, was also a Yankee. And although his stay was altogether too brief, the MLB all-time leader in steals left his mark in the Bronx, astonishingly still reigning as the all-time Yankees leader in steals 20 years after he played his last game in pinstripes.
When Rickey came to the Yankees in 1985, they were a team mired in mediocrity. Four years removed from their last World Series appearance — a loss to the LA Dodgers — and coming off of a third place finish in 1984, the Yankees added Henderson to a powerful lineup that already included Willie Randolph, Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Don Baylor, and Ken Griffey. But while the Yankees would finish second in Rickey's first two seasons with the club they would fall to fourth in his third season and fifth in his fourth year before being traded in 1989, precipitating a period of decline for the Yanks that would last until 1994.
While the signing of Henderson did not propel New York back into the World Series as owner George Steinbrenner had hoped it would, Rickey was anything but a disappointment as a Yankee. As previously noted, Henderson is the all-time leader in steals for the Yanks with 326 swipes in 596 games. His closest competition is Derek Jeter with his 293 steals in ... 2,077 games! Although the Yankees have never been known as a team built on speed, it is incredible that Rickey — in such a short stint with the club — stands ahead of solid base thieves like Jeter, Randolph, and Roy White.
When he was healthy, Rickey also contributed greatly with his bat. A four-time All-Star with the club, Henderson led the league in runs scored twice, stolen bases three times, and in 1985 and 1986 put up two of his best seasons power-wise, knocking out 24 and 28 home runs respectively, the latter figure a career high. His 1985 season is especially notable as he hit .314/24/72 and .419/.516/.934 with 80 steals and 146 runs scored (both leading the league) for one of the best seasons of his career (third in the MVP voting behind teammate Mattingly and George Brett).