OAKLAND — When new A’s president Dave Kaval began hosting office hours for fans last December, it had the air of a publicity stunt. Taking half-baked ideas from strangers? Yeah, sure.
As it turns out, there’s already been a Hall of Fame idea.
The A’s will christen their playing surface as Rickey Henderson Field on Opening Night. Henderson will address the crowd and wave his cap during a ceremony before the A’s face the Los Angeles Angels on Monday at the Oakland Coliseum.
He will do so because Kaval was listening.
“It kind of came out of the office hours,” he said Thursday at pre-season season kickoff event. “Someone came into my office and said, ‘Maybe you should name the field after a famous player.’ And I was like, ‘We should name it after Rickey Henderson.”’
The stadium will continue to be called the Coliseum; only the playing field is being named for Henderson. The plan was first announced in February, when Henderson said he was “honored and shocked” by the news.
Henderson was an obvious choice. For one thing, he is baseball’s all-time stolen bases leader (1,406). He also had 3,055 hits (23rd all-time), 2,295 runs (first) and 2,190 walks (second). Henderson played more games with the A’s (1,704) than anyone in Oakland history.
Moreover, this has always been Henderson’s turf. He grew up here and attended Oakland Technical High School. Henderson made his major league debut at the Coliseum on June 24, 1979, and famously broke Lou Brock’s stolen base record here on May 1, 1991.
“It’s just a great way to have a tribute to one of the greatest baseball players of all time, and someone who really evokes the spirit of Oakland,” Kaval said Thursday. “He’s someone who was born here, raised here, still has a home here. He is someone who is Oakland. To celebrate him in this way is something that’s long overdue. And we’re excited to do that.”
The A’s also have a Rickey Henderson Day planned for July 25.
Any one else have a bright idea?