As of 2010, Henderson ranks fourth all-time in career games played (3,081), tenth in at bats (10,961), twenty-first in hits (3,055), and first in runs scored (2,295) and stolen bases (1,406). His record for most career walks (2,190) has since been broken by Barry Bonds; Henderson is now second. He also holds the record for most home runs to lead off a game, with 81; Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs is tied for the second-most ever with Craig Biggio, with 53. During the 2003 season, Henderson surpassed Babe Ruth for the career record in secondary bases (total bases compiled from extra base hits, walks, stolen bases, and times hit by pitch). In 1993, he led off both games of a doubleheader with homers. At the time of his last major league game, Henderson was still in the all-time top 100 home run hitters, with 297. Bill James wrote in 2000, "Without exaggerating one inch, you could find fifty Hall of Famers who, all taken together, don't own as many records, and as many important records, as Rickey Henderson."
Henderson's eight steals during the 1989 ALCS broke Lou Brock's postseason record for a single series. His record for the most postseason stolen bases was broken by Kenny Lofton's 34th career steal during the 2007 ALCS; however, Lofton accomplished his total in 95 postseason games compared to Henderson's 60. Henderson is the only American League player to steal more than 100 bases in a single season, and he is the all-time stolen base leader for the Oakland A's.
In 1999, before breaking the career records for runs scored and walks, Henderson was ranked number 51 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. In 2005, The Sporting News updated their 100 Greatest Players list, and Henderson had inched up to number 50. On January 12, 2009, Henderson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot, receiving 94.8% of the vote. This was the 13th highest percentage in major league history.
Asked to choose the best player in history, Henderson declined, saying, "There are guys who have done different things very well, but I don't know of anyone who mastered everything." Offered the chance to assess his own placement among the game's greats, he said, "I haven't mastered the homers or RBI. The little things, I probably mastered." Of his various records and achievements, he values his career runs scored mark the most: "You have to score to win."
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“John Browns career for the last six weeks of his life was meteor-like, flashing through the darkness in which we live. I know of nothing so miraculous in our history.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)