As part of their commitment to the city of Oakland, the Athletics new leadership group went beyond their promise of staying in the East Bay by honoring all-time great and Oakland native Rickey Henderson.
On Monday, the A’s announced they will rename the playing surface of the Oakland Coliseum “Rickey Henderson Field.” The field will be officially dedicated in a pre-game ceremony on Opening Night April 3.
In a press release, the man known in Oakland as simply “Rickey” said:
“This is an incredible honor and I am humbled that the field I have so many incredible memories on is now named after me. I love this organization and our fans and look forward to contributing to our success for many years to come.”
Along with the April dedication, the A’s will host “Rickey Henderson Day” on July 15 against Cleveland, with fans receiving white No. 24 “Henderson” jerseys.
In his first press conference as the president of the team, Dave Kaval said that one goal of the A’s new direction was honoring the storied past of the A’s. This appears to be the first step in that direction:
“The A’s have almost a 50-year history in Oakland. We need to celebrate that. We need to build that into the stadium. … You can watch 20 different types of entertainment, you can watch 20 different types a sports, why be an Oakland A’s fan? One of the reasons can be our rich history.”
Whether it was the intention or not, the move is a certain fan grab for a franchise that hasn’t had an average home attendance of more than 25,000 since 2005 (26,040), and is coming off a season in which its 18,784 average was second-lowest in the big leagues.
After a five-year streak of surpassing the 2 million threshold for total home attendance was broken in 2005, the Oakland Coliseum has seen the mark reached just once, in 2014.
While the most-devoted of A’s faithful has in no way thinned, the common fans have, looking for a reason to be reinvigorated. The prospects of having the heroes of an Oakland past brought back to the forefront of their minds could be exactly that. And this is likely just the opening salvo in what will be a continuing theme.
“The Bash Brothers Bleachers.” “The Eckersley Bullpen.” “Dick Williams Dugout Seats.”
The possibilities are endless.
For now, though, all attention is justly being given to “The Greatest of All Time” and the best athlete to ever call the streets of Oakland home — though, there are surely some basketball fans who would refute that claim. The man who has the second highest career WAR in the A’s franchise history (72). The man who, despite being traded away twice, always found his way home, finishing with 14 years over four separate stints in the Green and Gold.
Of the “Man of Steal,” who will take on the role of Special Assistant to the President in the newly structured leadership group, Kaval said:
“Rickey Henderson is the greatest Athletic of all time. It is fitting we honor and recognize his impact on our franchise by naming our playing field after him. In addition to his current role on our baseball development staff, I am also excited he will be joining us in the front office to serve as a representative of Green and Gold baseball.”
Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.