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Today in Oakland A’s history (5/1): Rickey Henderson sets career stolen base record

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On this date, Rickey became the greatest of all time.

New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics

The 2020 MLB season is on hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic, so we’ve got some time to burn and a baseball void to fill. Fortunately, there are decades of Oakland A’s history to look back on, and even rerunball is better than no ball at all. Let’s reminisce!

Here’s the latest “this date in history” from A’s info manager Mike Selleck:

This is one of the most iconic moments in franchise history. On May 1, 1991, Rickey Henderson stole the 939th base of his career, surpassing Lou Brock for the all-time lead. He did it in exactly the brashly exuberant style you would expect from him, ripping the base from the ground and hoisting it above his head.

The record-setting swipe happened in the 4th inning. It was Rickey’s second try of the day, after being nabbed on his first attempt in the 1st inning. This time he made it, taking third base against Yankees pitcher Tim Leary and catcher Matt Nokes. Check out the replay below, complete with Bill King’s famous call:

The game stopped so that Rickey could deliver a short speech.

“But today, I’m the greatest of all time.”

One year later, to the day, Rickey stole his 1,000th base. In the end, he finished his career with 1,406 steals, more than 400 above the runner-up Brock. If he’d stolen just one more, he’d have a full 50% more than Brock. The active leader in today’s game is Rajai Davis, with 415, nearly 1,000 behind.

Rickey led his league a dozen times, and in half of those instances he also led the entire majors, including his single-season record of 130. His wheels changed games, and helped him win an MVP, a couple of rings, and a spot in the Hall of Fame. He was, and is, the Man of Steal, and on this date he officially became the greatest of all time.