How good was Rickey Henderson as a baseball player? Bill James said, “If you could split him in two, you’d have two Hall of Famers.” One month into the 2012 season, Made Man caught up with the still-ripped 10-time All-Star as he was promoting Pepsi MAX’s “Field of Dreams” contest to discuss swiping bases, staying fit and why he thinks he’d have more homers than Albert Pujols right now. Only thing that’s changed? Rickey didn’t refer to himself in the third person. Not even once.
MADE MAN: We hear you’re in phenomenal shape. What’s your training regimen?
RICKEY HENDERSON: I don’t know about phenomenal, but… I might run five miles twice, three times a week. I still do my sit-ups and push-ups and stuff like that. I love to stretch, so that keeps me nimble and trim. I just try to put oxygen in my blood and then go out and have a good day.
Don’t sit around. Go out and do something. Put some wind in your body. Let your blood flow. And I think you’ll feel good about yourself.
MM: Got a training tip for the rest of us?
RH: Do a lot of stretching, first of all, no matter what exercise you do. Make sure your ligaments and your muscles are stretched out. Also, don’t sit around. Go out and do something. Put some wind in your body. Let your blood flow. And I think you’ll feel good about yourself.
MM: If you were playing this season, who would have more home runs, you or Albert Pujols?
RH: Albert ain’t hit that many home runs. I hate to see that because he’s one of my favorites. He’s a good home run hitter, but I would probably have more home runs because I’d have the opportunity to lead off, and I would try to get me a few extra ones in the early part of the season, ha ha.
MM: Got any advice for Albert?
RH: I’d say, “You’ve just gotta get used to the different league.” A lot of people expected him to do the same things in the American League that he did in the National League. But the American League is a totally different ballgame. So he’s just got to get adjusted to it.
MM: You’re baseball’s all-time steals leader. What’s the key to stealing bases, other than having blazing speed?
RH: The biggest thing is getting a good start. Get a start off a pitcher and you’ve got a better chance of being safe. If you don’t get the start off a pitcher, it’s tougher to steal bases. Also, you’ve gotta concentrate on the base paths as hard as you do as a hitter. You have to pay attention to what the pitcher is doing.
MM: In the eighties, you and Vince Coleman were stealing 100 bases a season. Now the best guys get about 50 or 60. What the hell happened?
RH: I think the clock [a pitcher’s time to home plate] plays a big part on the kids nowadays, telling them when they can run and when they cannot run. We didn’t have the clock. So you might’ve had a pitcher who was 1.16 seconds to home or something like that. Nowadays they say, no, you can’t run on him. But in my time, if I got a good jump, it didn’t matter how fast the pitcher was getting the ball to the plate. It was all about getting a good jump—and your instincts.
MM: What’s your favorite baseball movie of all time?
RH: Cobb was a great movie. The aggression that he had on the base paths was impressive.
MM: Got a World Series pick?
RH: In the American League, I like Texas and Detroit. I think they’ll battle it out. And then in the National League, I’ll stick with Philly.
MM: Any final words of wisdom?
RH: First of all, you gotta get me on the “Field of Dreams” team. The fans have got to go out to MLB.com/PepsiMAX and vote for me. That’s the only way I get to play in that game, and I’m looking forward to playing in it. And then hopefully, some of the people who vote for me can play against us, and it would be a great day.
MM: OK. You’ve got our vote.
RH: Thank you. You have a wonderful day.