Sunday, August 2, 2009


Unfortunately, there are times in our lives when we find out some people are not who we thought they were. Sometimes those people are parents, friends, neighbors, or co-workers. What’s most disappointing is when the person who lets you down was once your hero.

I idolized many baseball players growing up, but other than Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Cecil Cooper, New York Yankees and Oakland A’s legend Rickey Henderson was my favorite.

I used to throw down some Frisbees for bases along with some of my mom’s flour for chalk lines in my backyard, and I’d steal second, third, and home over and over again with the same style and pizzazz that I saw Rickey do on TV.

At one point I traded almost all my good baseball cards away so that I could have ten Rickey Henderson Topps rookie cards.

I even fantasized about someday bumping into Rickey in the grocery store so I could challenge him to a race.

I attended over a hundred Brewers games from 1982 to 1993. Most days I went early for autographs as the players entered the stadium. My dad and I would then be the first ones in when the stadium gates opened, hoping to catch a few batting practice home run balls in the bleachers.

I sat behind Rickey in leftfield five times. Each time his conduct disappointed me. Milwaukee bleacher fans loved to taunt him chanting, “Rick-ey, Rick-ey” and he loved to give it right back. In between pitches, he would turn around and mouth obscenities to fans. Other times he would stick his middle finger up in our direction. Almost always he stuck out his butt and wiggled it in our direction as the pitch was delivered. Once in a while he would kiss his hand and smack his butt.

Because I loved the way he played the game with such confidence and tenacity, I tried to overlook his poor demeanor with the fans. However, after one game, I saw something in Rickey I could never get over.

I knew all the nooks and crannies in County Stadium from chasing autographs all those years. Most times I waited by the visiting players’ entrance as players came and went via taxi. After the game, I often waited by the orange and white barricades lined up leading to the team bus. Often times visiting players would stop and sign before they hopped on the bus. If there wasn’t an All-Star caliber player on the visiting team, I would then wait by the entrance where the Brewers’ players parked their cars. I even knew the spot where Robin Yount drove his corvette out of the stadium behind the bleachers. However, there was one spot where a few players exited every now and then, and when I was feeling lucky, I would stand there in hopes of being one-on-one with a legend. A few visiting players rented cars while in town, and when they did they exited a heavy aluminum door and left by some turnstiles near the Brewers’ door.

One day I had a feeling Rickey was going to leave that way, so I waited the whole time by that exit even though that meant I would give up any chance of getting autographs by the taxis, team bus, or Brewers door. After waiting about an hour after the game, Rickey walked out, and he could not have disappointed me any more than he did. It was like I did not even exist.

In the next day or so I am going to share my first excerpt from my book. It will be a few pages detailing my disappointing Rickey experience.

Last week Rickey Henderson was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. Although he gave an excellent speech and came off about as humble as he possibly could, he mentioned something in his speech that I thought was rather interesting. He told a story about as a kid he tried to get Reggie Jackson’s autograph on his way into the park, but Reggie repeatedly snubbed him. In fact, one time Reggie simply handed Rickey a pen with his name on it. During the speech, Reggie covered his head in shame with his suit coat.

Hearing Rickey’s account about his experiences with Reggie Jackson made his snubbing me even more disheartening. I can’t help but wonder if Rickey knew first hand how much it hurt to be snubbed by his hero, why on earth would he do the same thing to adoring fans throughout his career?

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know they tend to be quite positive. However, this post I am asking you to comment below to share your experiences when players disappointed you. I am sorry but character counts with me, and I hope in some small way this exposure makes players think twice about snubbing adoring fans.


  1. @BernSports I wrote a letter to Rickey. No response. Luis Matos denied my request to sign a ball even tho he was right in front of me.

  2. @sports_business Royce Clayton. I yelled for 5 min. for his autograph, he walked over, signed for my bro & friend (who were silent) then left.

  3. @HJBosch21 Zack Minor refused to sign a ball for my 8yr old bro. He should be lucky someone even asked him to sign something.

  4. @Dwade Chuck Knoblauch was the biggest snub of all time, treated fans like crap when he was in MN, esp. kids.

  5. Dan,
    I too was snubbed by Knoblauch a couple of times when he visited Milwaukee. I would have thought he would have been better to his hometown fans, especially since he played in MN. as long as he did.

  6. @highsockmojo From what I've witnessed, 99% of the time, people who get snubbed deserve to get snubbed based on how they talk to the players.