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Bring Rickey Back!

From the Mercury News:

Henderson maintained he isn't holding a grudge against the A's that they weren't able to bring him back one last time at the end of his career despite several personal appeals to make it happen. After all, he still thinks it can happen.

"It was a dream, it was where I started, so it was where I wanted to finish up," he said. "I thought the fans deserved it for me to come back to finish my career and say goodbye to them. But it didn't happen because of certain terms and it wasn't the right time because (the A's) were rebuilding. I didn't get too upset about it; I tried to understand what was going on, deal with it and move on.

"My career of being a baseball player in Oakland was fantastic, I wouldn't give it back for anything else. I had a wonderful time, the fans of Oakland were the best fans who were ever behind me and even when I was on another team, they always cheered. So I knew that my home was with Oakland and I knew that the fans were behind me, but we just didn't get the opportunity to say goodbye for the last time. But you never know, there may be another time when we get a chance to say goodbye."

This was a hot topic on AN a while back: Did the A's make a mistake by not allowing Rickey to come back and play one last weekend in the green and gold? Would it have appeared to be more of a publicity stunt, or would it have been seen as the final chapter of a brilliant Oakland career?

Had Rickey re-signed with the A's, even for a brief time, it would have pushed back this great moment. Obviously, that was a sacrifice Rickey was willing to make; he seemed dead serious about a return visit. You would have to believe that ticket sales for his final games would have filled the Coliseum with fans, both old and new, and there was a legitimate chance that Rickey could have outperformed at least part of the A's lineup at the time. He certainly could have rivaled the 2008 offense, even at 49. And it would have been fun; a chance to relive history; a chance for new A's fans to get a glimpse of a past that has defined Oakland baseball from 1979 on; a chance to see if a superstar can defy his age, even for a single at-bat.

It obviously wasn't a risk the A's were willing to take, for whatever reason, and since there is little chance that Rickey would be allowed an encore now, Oakland fans will have to be satisfied with Rickey as a Hall of Famer as he addresses the crowd, not Rickey as an Oakland baseball player. The accolade will be the same, the honor still great, the return of Rickey as magical as ever, but for all of us as Rickey fans--and for Rickey himself--this is truly the end of an era. No longer the Peter Pan of baseball, Rickey must now set aside his dream of returning to the Oakland field, and take his rightful place in A's history; however reluctantly.

But maybe, just maybe, when Rickey looks up to see his number adorning a Coliseum wall, he will realize that he single-handedly carved his name into the lore of Oakland history, and to all of baseball as well. Rickey doesn't need an encore game to prove that he belongs to Oakland; or that he was one of the best baseball players to ever play the game. Rickey doesn't owe Oakland fans a thing; he gave it to us out on the field. Congratulations, Rickey; if you never pick up a pair of cleats again, it will have been enough. And my greatest wish is that it's enough for you.