Every so often, somebody has a brilliant idea. Why not travel from place to place using something called an automobile instead of an animal or your feet? At least for me, this was pure genius: The combination of oatmeal and raisins in a cookie. Now those who run the A's
Every so often, somebody has a brilliant idea. Why not travel from place to place using something called an automobile instead of an animal or your feet? At least for me, this was pure genius: The combination of oatmeal and raisins in a cookie. Now those who run the A's have joined the enlightened for the ages with their decision to name the 49-year-old field inside the Oakland Coliseum after Rickey Henderson.
It makes sense. Not only are we talking about a Baseball Hall of Famer, but this guy spent his youth living not far beyond the outfield walls of the Coliseum before he set the franchise record for just about everything, ranging from runs scored to walks.
Oh, and Henderson stole more than a few bases inside of that building and elsewhere. He finished with 867 steals for his Oakland career, including a modern-day record of 130 in 1982. So A's officials will honor Henderson forever with the christening of Rickey Henderson Field before their home opener on April 3 against the Angels. Which makes you applaud and wonder if others will follow the A's in this regard.
They should. Since I'm here to serve, I'll help this process along by mentioning who deserves to have the field named after him for each of the remaining 29 Major League teams. I know what you're saying. Mickey Mantle never played in this Yankee Stadium, and AT&T Park wasn't even a figment of the wildest fiction writer's imagination when Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and the rest of those future Hall of Famers for the Giants were freezing at Candlestick Park.
If you played within the city limits of a given franchise, you deserve consideration for this honor.
American League East
Orioles: With apologies to the Robinsons (Frank and Brooks), Boog (Powell) and all of those splendid pitchers of yore, it's Cal Ripken Jr. He played more consecutive games than anybody in baseball history, and he surpassed Lou Gehrig for the record in Baltimore, not far from where he grew up.
Red Sox: Has anybody hit over .400 in a season since Ted Williams did so (.406) in 1941? There you have it. And the Splendid Splinter ended his career at Fenway Park by ripping a home run. He also had that heart-tugging moment around the pitcher's mound in Boston at the 1999 All-Star Game with another generation of baseball standouts.
Yankees: Lots of choices. Actually, there is only one. Yep, because The House That Ruth Built just moved across the street.
Rays:Evan Longoria is as much of a Ray as you can get. He's been with the franchise for almost half of its 19 years in existence. Nobody in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area will forget his walk-off homer against the Yankees at the end of the 2011 season to push the Rays into the playoffs.
Blue Jays: Instead of a player, it's a manager. It's the manager for the Blue Jays, because Cito Gaston was in charge during their back-to-back World Series championship seasons of 1992 and 1993. He managed the team during a couple of stints, and in one stretch, he took the Blue Jays to AL East titles four out of five seasons.
White Sox: There's a slew of magic names in baseball history, and Minnie Minoso is one of them. The North Siders had Mr. Cub (we'll get to him in a moment), but Minoso was Mr. White Sox after playing for the franchise during the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s. There was some gimmickry happening here near the end, but who cares? And he did finish his 17 seasons in the Majors with a .298 batting average.
Indians: The more you study Bob Feller's career, the more you shake your head, and I'm talking about his baseball and his military career, during which he was an officer on a warship during World War II. Courtesy of a fastball that nobody could see, he had three no-hitters and 12 one-hitters.
Tigers: Ty Cobb was great. In contrast, Al Kaline was great and loved by everybody, including the opposition. As an outfielder and as a slugger, there wasn't anything Kaline couldn't do, and he did them with class. The man is called Mr. Tiger for a reason.
Royals: Um, George Brett. Now moving right along ...
Twins: When you think of all-time players for the Twins through the decades, Harmon Killebrew's name surfaces within milliseconds. That's enough right there.
Astros: During their careers, they led the Killer Bs, and everybody in the orbit of the Astros knows I'm talking about Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, or Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. They both remain interchangeable, and they both are Hall of Famers, so they both deserve to have the floor of Minute Maid Park named "B & B Field."
Angels: There aren't many lifetime Angels of note. Most of their great players came from somewhere else. So, as sort of a consolation prize in his memory, this honor belongs to Gene Autry, the singing Cowboy, who never could win either a World Series or even a pennant as their owner.
Athletics: Yep, Henderson.
Mariners: Yep, Ken Griffey Jr.
Rangers: Despite Nolan Ryan's inability to make the Baseball Hall of Fame for various reasons, he deserves at least this. Yes, he played more years with the Angels and the Astros, and he began his career with the Mets, but the Texas native did go into Cooperstown with a Rangers cap.
National League East
Braves: The team will have a statue of Hank Aaron at their new ballpark this season, and the old one remains at their previous home of Turner Field. They also have several other Aaron things at the new place, but you know what? You can't honor Henry Louis Aaron enough.
Marlins: To continue a familiar theme, Jeff Conine is Mr. Marlin after multiple stints with the team. He was there when the franchise began in 1993, and he contributed to the two World Series championships for the Marlins. He could play, too, with a couple of trips to the All-Star Game.
Mets: Tom "Terrific" Seaver
Phillies: Let's see ... What about ... nah, Mike Schmidt.
Nationals: OK, the current franchise is too fresh, and you can't go with anybody from the old Expos, because remember what I said earlier? They had to have played (or managed) within these city limits, which means we can look to the Washington Senators. So let's go with Walter Johnson, whose numbers as a pitcher are too ridiculous to mention.
Cubs: Can't pick against Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub.
Reds: If Pete Rose weren't banned from baseball, you'd have to go with the all-time hits leader, especially since he was born and raised in Cincinnati, where he spent the bulk of his career playing for the Reds. He later managed them. For now, Johnny Bench.
Brewers: Unlike the no-brainer that is Brett for the Royals, you could debate the merits of taking Paul Molitor over Robin Yount, but I'm going with Yount. While Molitor spent six years with other teams, Yount stayed with the Cheeseheads for all of his 20 seasons in the Majors.
Pirates: Lots of great Pirates through the years, but Roberto Clemente had the game and the name.
Cardinals: No offense to Willie Stargell, Ralph Kiner, Bill Mazeroski, Dave Parker and the other wonderful alumni of the Pirates, but there were even more great Cardinals, stretching back to the start of the 20th century. Nobody tops Stan Musial, though, and like Aaron, there is no such thing as piling on here.
D-Backs: Luis Gonzalez spent the opening eight seasons of his six-team, 18-year career with these guys, and he was impressive enough during that stretch to produce a .298 batting average and 224 homers. He also had the hit that won the 2001 World Series championship for the franchise in Game 7 against Mariano Rivera of the Yankees.
Rockies: Nobody comes close to surpassing Todd Helton as the ultimate icon of this franchise. I mean, when it comes to hitting, he holds the club record in nearly every category. He also won three Gold Gloves, and he was a Rockies lifer of 17 seasons.
Dodgers: See what I wrote about Aaron and Musial. It's Jackie Robinson.
Padres: Tony Gwynn, Mr. Padre.
Giants: Willie ... Is it Mays, who ranks among the two or three most complete players in baseball history? Or is it McCovey, who is more beloved in Northern California since he began his career in 1959 with the "San Francisco" Giants while Mays' debut came with the New York Giants? I haven't flipped my coin yet.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com.