cover image Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original

Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original

Howard Bryant. Mariner, $29.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-358-04731-5

Bryant (The Last Hero), a senior writer for, delivers a solid and comprehensive take on the life and career of Rickey Henderson, Major League Baseball’s all-time stolen base leader. A part of the 1960s “Black migration” to California, 10-year-old Henderson and his family moved from Arkansas to Oakland in 1969. After being convinced by a guidance counselor to join his school’s baseball team—upon Henderson’s initial resistance, she offered to pay him a quarter for every one of his hits and runs—Henderson quickly rose through the ranks in his teens and was signed to the minor league’s Oakland Athletics in 1979. Though underestimated by scouts, Henderson’s raw talent led him to play for the A’s on four separate stints—including in the team’s 1993 World Series championship—as well as the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox, among other teams. Tracing Henderson’s road to baseball’s Hall of Fame, Bryant skillfully weaves in detailed analyses of the athlete’s game—from his famous “swagger” to his reputation as a speedster, stealing 100 bases in his first full season. The book most succeeds in its rich historical context, underscoring Rickey’s outsize influence in a new vanguard of “great Black talents” that shook up the hallowed white halls of baseball. The result is an indelible account of a one-of-a-kind player and personality. (June)