Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original

Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2022. 448p. ISBN 9780358047315. $28.99. SPORTS
Mashing home runs seems to have overtaken the popularity of stealing bases in Major League Baseball but back in the 1980s, it was a time of lightening along the base paths. No one dominated this era more than Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, who played on nine MLB teams for 24 seasons, between 1979 and 2003. Dubbed “the Man of Steal,” he holds the Major League records for career stolen bases, runs, leadoff home runs and unintended walks. His record-breaking numbers and huge personality made for thrilling viewing. ESPN sportswriter Bryant (The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron) captures Rickey (always a one-name guy) in his time. In line with the author’s previous works about baseball figures and history, Bryant tells Rickey’s story from the social/historical milieu of Rickey’s childhood in Oakland, CA, a city that underwent massive social change due to the Great Migration. Rickey’s career is part of a common thread in the history of Black Americans in baseball, but also—perhaps more so—is uniquely his own.
VERDICT Bryant brings a historian’s perspective to the life of Rickey Henderson, with great success.
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