Every year, members of the Baseball Writers Association submit their ballots to cast votes for new inductees into baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. And so far, after decades of voting, no player has entered the hall with unanimous support.
It takes 75% approval to make it in, and so far, the record is Tom Seaver, who was named on 425 of 430 ballots, for a 98.84% vote. In 2007, Cal Ripken came close, with 98.5%, and Tony Gwynn nearly matched him, gathering 97.6% of the vote.
But let me make myself clear. Whatever the reasons are for these so-called baseball experts to not vote in some of the legends of the game should be thrown away when it comes to Rickey Henderson, who deserves to go into the hall with 100% of the votes. Any writer who knowingly casts a ballot that does not include Rickey should be banned from ever voting again in the future, and they should be openly mocked, for they do not know this game.
Writers typically vote for a player based on multiple attributes, including: Statistics, Longevity, Awards and All-Star appearances, and Post-Season play. Rickey Henderson has each of these in spades, as I'll explain.
Rickey Henderson is no marginal, arguable, Hall of Famer. The man is a living legend who didn't just set records with his craft - he destroyed them and rewrote the record books. His 1,406 stolen bases, 468 more than Lou Brock's 938, the second-place mark are so far ahead, it's the equivalent of having 1,142 home runs (versus Barry Bonds' 762 mark), pitching 766 wins (versus Cy Young's 511), or striking out 8,565 batters (versus Nolan Ryan's 5,714).
In addition to his steals mark, RIckey Henderson scored more runs than any baseball player ever, with 2,295. He also led off 81 games with a home run, and holds the all-time mark for steals in a regular season, notching 130 in 1982, beating Lou Brock's 118 from the 1974 campaign. Again, put in Barry Bonds home run terms, that would be more than 80 dingers in a season.
Henderson led the league in stolen bases 12 times, and led the major leagues in runs scored five times. He was the AL MVP in 1990, and a ten time All-Star.
Rickey was no single-dimensional player. He hit more than 20 home runs in four separate years, accumulating 297 over his 25-season career. He hit .300 or better in seven seasons, as late as 1999, when he hit .315 for the New York Mets at the age of 40. He hit more than 500 doubles, and walked 2,190 times, second only to Bonds, and first overall at the time he stopped playing.
Lest it be said he was a man focused on statistics first and team second, Rickey won a pair of World Series titles, including in 1989 with the A's against the Giants, and in 1993 for the Toronto Blue Jays against the Phillies. In his 14 World Series games, Rickey batted a robust .339, and slugged .607, with 7 swiped bags against two caught stealing.
Yet, somehow, I bet some ink stained wretch is going to find a reason to not vote for Rickey. They'll make some question of his character. They might call him selfish, or remember the time when, while on the Mets, he was playing cards in the clubhouse. But in an era when players turned to drugs and steroids, Rickey supplied his own speed - at a level never seen before or since.
We may never see another player like Rickey, unless he comes out of his non-playing state and picks up the batting gloves. While everyone believes Rickey will be a first ballot Hall of Famer, and discussions are already going on, saying he'll wear the A's cap into the hall, I want to make it very clear - this man deserves to go in unanimously, period.
100% voting is all I will accept, and as fans, we should start making noise about it now. I can think of nobody else more deserving.