[Ed's note: We interviewed former Oakland Athletics star Dennis Eckersley for this piece recently; before we got off the phone, mostly because of this piece a few years ago, we had to ask: "What's your best Rickey Henderson story ever?" Here's what he said.]
Rickey! Oh, man. One time we were playing in Baltimore, at the old stadium there, way before Camden Yards. Rickey used to call everyone by one letter. Half the time I was "Hey D!" but sometimes I'm "Hey E!" and a couple of times in there, I was "Hey B!" Some guys on the team were saying, "Does he even know everyone's name?" In Baltimore, the one thing about Memorial Stadium was: they always seemed to play better music than all the other stadiums. So Rickey's out there with the bat on his shoulder, and Aretha Franklin comes on: "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." Rickey's trying to sing along to it, but he keeps messing up the letters. I'm pretty sure he was saying "R-E-D-B-P-S-T-C" or something. Everyone's laughing, guys are saying "Can he even spell it?" Rickey used letters for everything. Now, I want to be careful to say, I'm not saying he's stupid. Rickey's a smart guy. But the Aretha Franklin story was classic.