Rickey Henderson finally swiped No. 939.
Henderson ran his way into the record books in the fourth inning of the Oakland Athletics' 7-4 victory over the New York Yankees, setting off a five-minute celebration for baseball's new stolen base king."Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today I'm the greatest of all time," Henderson said to the crowd of 36,139 in the Oakland Coliseum.
Henderson ran into the record books with amazing speed, setting the record in 1,154 attempts in 12 seasons. Brock needed 1,245 attempts over 19 years for 938 steals. It took Ty Cobb 24 years to set the old American League record of 892 stolen bases that Henderson surpassed last May 29.
Henderson, after being thrown out at second base in the first inning, stole third base in the fourth to break Brock's record.
Henderson broke for third on a 1-0 pitch from Tim Leary to Harold Baines, and dove into third head-first, easily beating Matt Nokes' throw, which bounced before reaching Randy Velarde."It was a thrill," Henderson said. "I've been blessed with the ability and the good fortune to not get a lot of injuries. . . . I really wanted to get it over. I was putting too much pressure on myself."
Immediately after the record-breaking steal, Henderson pulled up the base, held it above the head in his right hand and pumped his left fist in celebration.
Brock then came on the field as fans gave Henderson a standing ovation. Henderson's Oakland teammates stood and applauded on the top step of the dugout. The Yankees, the team that traded Henderson back to the Athletics in 1989, just stood around.
"It's always been said that competition among men is one of the oldest practices known to man," Brock said. "Today, you might be the greatest competitior that ever ran the bases and I congratulate you. You are a legend in your own time. Congratulations."
Henderson, with a big grin on his face, then addressed the fans.
"Took a long time, huh?" said Henderson, who went on to thank everyone, from the fans, to his mother, family and loved ones to former managers, including Tom Trebelhorn and the late Billy Martin.
"Lou Brock was a symbol of great base stealing," he said, "but today I am the greatest of all time."
Henderson, who has credited Davey Lopes and Trebelhorn for making him the base stealer he is, had warm words for Martin, who died in December 1989.
"I love ya, Billy," Henderson said to the crowd. "I wish you were here."
The A's rewarded Henderson for his achievement with a gift of a 1991 Porsche and a $75,000 donation to several charities designated by Henderson.
Henderson said he would celebrate his record by breaking open a bottle of champagne that he received 16 years ago after graduating from high school.
"I've never had it this tough getting two bases," Henderson said. "They were the toughest of my career. I don't know why. It didn't seem like I would ever get them."
The crowning moment was put off by Henderson's 15-day stint on the disabled list, and his getting thrown out on four of his first five steal attempts. He was also picked off once.
Henderson broke the record after reaching first when his grounder went through shortstop Alvaro Espinoza's legs for an error. He took second on an infield single by Dave Henderson, remained there for Jose Canseco's flyout and took off for third on the 1-0 pitch to Baines.
"When I felt my hand on the base, it was a dream come true," Henderson said. "All that work and dedication paid off."
Henderson, 32, was greeted with a hug by third base coach Rene Lachemann, then received embraces from his mother Bobbie, Brock, Lou Brock Jr. and Oakland manager Tony La Russa. Dave Stewart, Henderson's friend since childhood, then gave him a bear hug.
"I thought it would just be another stolen base, but it wasn't," Stewart said. `I've known Rickey for a long time, and I know the pressure was getting to him. You could see it."
It was the 216th steal of third for Henderson, his 42nd against the Yankees and his third off Nokes.
T-shirts, depicting Henderson in various poses over the No. 939, were put on sale at concession stands throughout the Oakland Coliseum immediately after he stole the record-tying base on Sunday against California. Henderson ordered six dozen for himself to give to teammates.
Henderson also passed out "I Was There" certificates bearing the stamp "Compliments of Rickey Henderson" to members of the media while answering questions before Tuesday night's game. Henderson instructed reporters to fill in the date themselves.
Henderson has led the majors in steals five times and topped the AL in steals 10 times. Henderson set the single-season standard for steals with 130 in 1982, breaking Brock's mark of 118 in 1974.
"I just want to keep stealing bases," said Henderson, who figures 1,200 is a cinch and 1,500 is possible if he stays healthy. "I want to steal so many that I put (the record) out of sight."
GRAPHIC\ Rickey Henderson's record run
Oakland Athletics' Rickey Henderson broke Lou Brock's career stolen base record, stealing his 939th base against the New York Yankees.
Career bases stolen by year
(As of 5/1/91) '79: 33