Henderson steals his way to a record - HISTORY
Year
1982

Henderson steals his way to a record

Oakland Athletics outfielder Rickey Henderson steals his 119th base of the year, breaking Hall of Famer Lou Brock’s 1979 record for stolen bases in a season.

Rickey Henley Henderson was born on Christmas Day, 1958. When he was seven years old, his family moved to Oakland, where the gregarious boy befriended Charles O. Finley, the owner of the Oakland Athletics. Henderson played youth baseball in Oakland with pitcher Dave Stewart, later his teammate on the 1989 Oakland A’s and 1993 Toronto Blue Jays World Championship teams. According to Stewart, Henderson had the same outgoing, energetic personality as a boy that he did when he became a baseball star: “Rickey was always the life of the party.”

Henderson was drafted by the A’s in the fourth round of the 1976 amateur draft. In the minor leagues he stole bases at a tremendous clip, including 95 at Double-A Modesto as an 18 year old in 1977. He broke in with Oakland in the 1979 season, but initially struggled to find his game. Then, in 1980, under a new manager, the pugnacious Billy Martin, Henderson broke the American League record for stolen bases in a season, swiping 100 bags.

Henderson stole bases in 1982 at an unprecedented pace. By August 27, when the A’s visited Milwaukee, Henderson had already racked up 118 steals, tying Brock’s major league record. In the third inning, Henderson walked on four pitches to reach first base. The Brewers knew he would look to steal, so they pitched out to catcher Ted Simmons, who threw to shortstop Robin Yount. Henderson had indeed taken off, and he proved too fast for the Brewers’ battery, stealing his 119th base on the year. The game was stopped and Brock and American League President Lee MacPhail joined the teams on the field to congratulate the new record-holder.

Henderson, however, was not done for the day. After a walk in the sixth inning, he stole second again. In the eighth inning, after his third walk, he stole second and third base, giving him 122 steals on the year at the end of the game. Henderson finished the season with 130 stolen bases, a single-season record that still stands.

When his major league career ended in 2003, Henderson was baseball’s all-time leader in stolen bases and lead-off home runs, as well as the all-time leader in bases on balls (walks) with 2,190 (Barry Bonds later broke this record) and the all-time runs leader, with 2,295. Henderson left the majors at age 45 and ended his career playing independent minor league baseball, still getting on base and still scoring runs. In a sport where the point of the offensive player is to score runs, Henderson did it more than anyone in history. He was inducted into the Baeball Hall of Fame in 2009.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

“The Guinness Book of Records” debuts

On this day in 1955, the first edition of “The Guinness Book of Records” is published in Great Britain; it quickly proves to be a hit. Now known as the “Guinness World Records” book, the annual publication features a wide range of feats related to humans and animals. To date, the ...read more

Mountbatten killed by IRA

On August 27, 1979, Lord Louis Mountbatten is killed when Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorists detonate a 50-pound bomb hidden on his fishing vessel Shadow V. Mountbatten, a war hero, elder statesman, and second cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, was spending the day with his family ...read more

The Battle of Brooklyn

During the American Revolution, British forces under General William Howe defeat Patriot forces under General George Washington at the Battle of Brooklyn in New York.On August 22, Howe’s large army landed on Long Island, hoping to capture New York City and gain control of the ...read more

Krakatau explodes

The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history occurs on Krakatau (also called Krakatoa), a small, uninhabited volcanic island located west of Sumatra in Indonesia, on this day in 1883. Heard 3,000 miles away, the explosions threw five cubic miles of earth 50 miles into ...read more

Romania enters World War I

On this day in 1916, after Romania declares war on Austria-Hungary, formally entering World War I, Romanian troops cross the border of the Austro-Hungarian Empire into the much-contested province of Transylvania.By the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914, Romania had long been at ...read more

Agnew meets with President Thieu in Saigon

Vice President Spiro Agnew meets with South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu in Saigon. In a speech at Ton Son Nhut air base, Agnew praised the South Vietnamese people for suffering “so much in freedom’s cause” and promised that “there will no lessening of U.S. support.” ...read more

LBJ is born

On this day in 1908, future President Lyndon Baines Johnson is born on a farm near Stonewall, Texas. The brash, outspoken Johnson grew up in an impoverished rural area and worked his way through a teachers’ training college before entering politics.In 1937, Johnson won a seat in ...read more

Tycoon William Ralston drowns

Hours after being asked to resign as president of the Bank of California, the powerful western capitalist William Ralston is found drowned in San Francisco Bay.One of the first men to build a major financial empire in the Far West, Ralston was born in Ohio in 1826. In 1854, he ...read more

Theodore Dreiser is born

Theodore Dreiser, whose book Sister Carrie helped change the direction of American literature, is born on this day in Terre Haute, Indiana.Dreiser was the 12th of 13 children born to a poor, unhappy family. Except for one brother who became a songwriter, most of the Dreiser ...read more

Beatles manager Brian Epstein dies

On August 27, 1967, Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles, was found dead of an accidental drug overdose in his Sussex, England, home. The following day, the headline in the London Daily Mirror read “EPSTEIN (The Beatle-Making Prince of Pop) DIES AT 32.” Brian Epstein was, by all ...read more

Krakatoa erupts

The volcanic island of Krakatoa near Indonesia erupts on this day in 1883, killing thousands in one of the worst geologic disasters of modern times.The beginning of the amazing events at Krakatoa in 1883 date to May 20 when there were initial rumblings and venting from the ...read more

Red Scare dominates American politics

As the presidential election of 1952 begins to heat up, so do accusations and counteraccusations concerning communism in America. The “Red Scare”—the widespread belief that international communism was operating in the United States—came to dominate much of the debate between ...read more

The attack on Cape Hatteras begins

Union ships sail into North Carolina’s Hatteras Inlet, beginning a two-day operation that secures the area for the Federals and denies the Confederates an important outlet to the Atlantic.The Outer Banks is a series of long, narrow islands that separate Pamlico Sound from the ...read more