Rickey's 61!? Here are 12 fun facts for his birthday

December 26th, 2019

Wednesday was three holidays in one: Christmas, the fourth night of Hanukkah … and Rickey Henderson's birthday.

The Man of Steal turned 61 this year. Born in Chicago on Christmas Day 1958, Henderson went on to become one of MLB's most entertaining personalities, baseball's all-time leader in stolen bases and runs scored, a member of the 3,000-hit club and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Now, the A's legend even has the field named after him in Oakland.

To get in the holiday and Henderson spirit, here are 12 fun facts about Rickey's career, one for each of the 12 days of Christmas. Don't worry, though, no caroling.

1. Henderson's record 1,406 stolen bases are 468 more than second-place Lou Brock's 938 -- almost exactly 1 1/2 times Brock's career total. The gap in stolen bases between Henderson and Brock is the same as the gap between Brock and 47th-place Jimmy Rollins, who had 470.

Heck, if you penalized Henderson one stolen base for each of his 335 times caught stealing -- and, on top of that, took away his 130-steal 1982 season just for kicks -- he'd still be the all-time leader by three.

2. The active leader in career steals, Rajai Davis, is nearly 1,000 behind Henderson, with 415. And the 39-year-old Davis is a free agent. The stolen-base leader among currently rostered players is Dee Gordon, with 330. Gordon could steal 1,000 bases and still need 76 more to catch Rickey. He could quadruple his career total and still need 86 more steals to catch Rickey.

3. Think about this: A young Major Leaguer could debut on Opening Day 2020, steal 50 bases every single season for the next 28 years … and still be six steals behind Rickey.

4. Henderson nearly ran a marathon in his career just stealing bases. His 1,406 steals, at 90 feet between bases, add up to 126,540 feet … or 23.97 miles; just over two shy of a marathon.

5. Rickey stole 100 bases three times in his career -- 100 in 1980, 130 in '82 and 108 in '83. Since his retirement in 2003, no one's even come within 20 of a triple-digit-steal season. The closest was José Reyes with 78 in '07.

In 2019, neither league leader in steals even got halfway there. Ronald Acuña Jr. stole 37 in the National League and Mallex Smith stole 46 in the American League.

6. Henderson led his league in steals 12 times in his career, the all-time record. Only one other player, Hall of Famer Max Carey, did it on double-digit occasions. Carey's last time as a league leader was in 1925, 55 years before Henderson's first time, 1980.

7. Henderson started the 1980s with a run of seven straight seasons leading the league in steals, and he led the AL in nine of 10 years in the '80s.

If Henderson's career only spanned that one decade, he'd have 838 stolen bases and rank fourth all-time. He played 15 seasons not in the '80s.

8. Widely hailed as the greatest leadoff hitter of all time, Henderson is the MLB leader in hits (3,020) out of the top spot in the batting order.

Yes, Rickey could have joined the 3,000-hit club as a leadoff hitter alone. He's the only hitter who can say that. Pete Rose (2,924) and Ichiro (2,529) are the next-closest leadoff hitters.

9. Henderson is also the all-time leader in leadoff home runs -- whether you mean "home runs as the No. 1 hitter in the order" or "home runs leading off the first inning."

Henderson hit 293 homers batting at the top of the order, nearly 100 more than the batter in second place, Alfonso Soriano (197). And he hit 81 true leadoff homers, 50 percent more than Soriano, who is again in second place with 54.

10. Only Barry Bonds walked more times than Rickey (2,558 to 2,190) in a big league career. But Henderson is the all-time leader in unintentional walks.

Only 61 of Henderson's walks were intentional, leaving him with 2,129 unintentional walks. Bonds was intentionally walked 688 times, leaving him with 1,870 unintentional walks.

11. Henderson never stopped stealing. The last time that he stole at least 60 bases -- of the record 10 times that he did so in his career -- he was 39 years old. That was in 1998, when he had 66 steals and led the AL. No one else has ever reached 60 steals at that age (the closest was Davey Lopes in '85, with 47). Heck, it's been a decade since the last time that anyone stole 66 bases at any age (Juan Pierre with 68 in 2010).

After turning 40, Rickey's next three yearly stolen base totals were 37, 36 and 25, respectively. He's the only player ever with multiple 30-steal seasons at age 40 or older.

12. Rickey got at least one hit in 66 percent of the games that he played with at least one plate appearance; he reached base safely in 85 percent of those games.

He stole at least one base in 34 percent of his career games. And he scored at least one run in 54 percent of his career games.