A former Blue Jay was inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday. If you are searching trying to find the name, it is Ricky Henderson. That makes four Blue Jays now in the Hall of Fame, the others being Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield and Phil Niekro. Pretty darn good for a club that came into being in 1977 if I do say so myself, better than the Mariners at least. Although these players together are ‘Blue Jay Hall of Famers,’ the other thing that they all have is common is they didn’t stay here that long. Ricky only played in Toronto for half a season plus the playoffs in 1993, Niekro’s great career ended in Toronto after the 1987 season, Winfield only stayed one year to help us win the World Series in 1992 and Molitor’s time in Toronto consisted of one World Series in 1993, a strike shorted year in 1994 and another year in 1995. Suffice to say, none of these players actually went into the Hall as a Blue Jay. This is another reason why the Jays should not trade Roy Halladay, although Roberto Alomar (arguably the greatest Jay ever) might have a shot before him.
I’ve drifted a bit, so back to Superman. If Jays fans can remember, Toronto and Oakland had a short-lived rivalry in the early 90’s. We met Oakland in the 1989 ALCS and the ALCS in 1992, winning one of those meetings (Alomar’s amazing homerun off Eckersly in 92 – Game 4 some might remember). Henderson was so good in those series, that Jays fans and broadcasters referred to him as ‘Superman.’ The Oakland ALCS win over the Jays in 1989 saw Henderson steal 8 bases against the Jays in 5 games. He won MVP for the series. The Jays, in particular, had gained a great respect for the athlete that he was. Hence the name, ‘Superman.’ I remember hating him, and being scared of him everytime he lead-off for the A’s. So what do you do with your enemies? Keep them even closer some might say. I commend modern GM mastermind Pat Gilick on pulling a trade-deadline manuver that brought Ricky to the Jays in 1993. He was definately one of the players that helped the Jays go back-to-back in 92-93, even though we made him move to right-field.
Alright, now for a funny Ricky Henderson story. My favorite was upon Ricky being reunited with John Olerud later in their playing careers with the New York Mets, Henderson said to Olerud: “I remember playing with a guy that always wore a helmet in Toronto?” Olerud, who did play with Ricky, and together with him won the World Series in 1993, always wore a helmet on the field-of-play for medical reasons. He couldn’t even look at Ricky with a straight face after he said that.