Not the Retiring Type

Rickey Fits Into New Jersey

Rickey makes a sliding catch of a hot liner. Tom Gallagher, who's been harassing Rickey since Henderson played at Yankee Stadium in the mid 1980s, doesn't miss a beat. "Rickey," he shouts, "you got no arm, but you still got legs!"

Rickey smiles, picks up the right leg that led him to 1,403 steals and displays it like a Rockette.

The county executive, Joe DiVincenzo, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, implores Gallagher to go easy on Rickey. He's only half-joking. "We want to keep him around for a while," says DiVincenzo.

But Gallagher got his wish: Rickey noticed him. "I had one guy out there, he's about 50 years old. He's just a heckler. He must have been following me since I played," Henderson laughed after the game. "He was messing around talking trash. About the Yankees, Mets, everything. There's always going to be one out there."

If this the beginning of the end for baseball's most misunderstood star, it's somehow apropos. In his New Yorker essay "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," John Updike watched another great left fielder, Ted Williams, circle the bases for the last time while hardly acknowledging the Fenway fans. "Gods do not answer letters," Updike wrote. Rickey Henderson has been called many things, but never a god. And even now, especially now, he's not above mixing it up with naive fans, starstruck kids, and one guy who doesn't quite know when to shut up.

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