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This Date in A's History, April 6

Not surprising that the A’s stole their way to victory in 1983. The surprise was the guy missing from the heist.

One of these guys stole a base on April 6, 1983. (It's not the one facing the camera).
One of these guys stole a base on April 6, 1983. (It's not the one facing the camera).
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Rickey Henderson liked stealing bases. Even before arriving on the scene in Oakland, he demonstrated a penchant for thievery. He once swiped seven bases in a single minor-league game. In his first full season in the bigs – 1980 – he stole exactly 100 bases, breaking an American League mark that stood for 65 years. Following the strike-shortened season of 1981, Rickey raced past Lou Brock into the records with 130 stolen bases. It is a number that has hardly been approached in the 30 years since. Rickey would go on to pilfer 108 bases in 1983; he was the first of two players to reach the century mark in three different seasons.

But on a strange Wednesday afternoon – April 6, 1983 – Rickey did not steal one base. Well, that’s a hardly a rare thing, right? Right, but three of his teammates did, and another – Dwayne Murphy – was caught attempting one. I mean, Carney Lansford had a stolen base that night!

So Rickey let someone else carry the load this day; big deal. He probably didn’t even get on base. Well, yeah actually he did. He reached base five times to be exact, four times via a walk; two times he led off an inning by taking a free pass.

But Rickey, being Rickey, still made his presence felt. He opened Oakland’s home half of the first with a triple off Bert Blyleven, and waltzed home on a sac fly by Lansford giving the A’s a lead they would never relinquish en route to a 5-3 win. He walked to lead off the third, went to third base on a single by Mike Davis, and both runners scored courtesy of a two-bagger off the bat of captain Murphy.

Henderson walked again in the fourth and sixth innings, both times with two outs and a man in front of him on the basepaths. He was issued another walk leading off the eighth but was immediately forced at second on a groundball by Davis, thwarting his last chance to join Davis, Lansford, and Tony Phillips in the stolen base column for the A’s.

Funny thing, baseball.