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01/15/09 12:56 PM EST
Rickey joins A's staff in goodwill role
Hall of Famer hired for '09; club seeks spring park upgrades
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- The A's have hired recent Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson in a goodwill capacity for the 2009 season, Lew Wolff, the team's owner said during the two days of owners' meetings that end here on Thursday. "We'll have him working for us and that should be a nice thing," Wolff said. Henderson was elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America along with Red Sox star Jim Rice to the Class of '09. The announcement came on Monday. Henderson, on the ballot for the first time, received 94.8 percent of the vote. Though Henderson played for eight Major League teams, he'll go into the Hall on July 26 wearing the green and gold A's cap. Henderson came up with the A's in 1979 and had four separate stints with the team during his 25-year career. He is the all-time leader with 1,406 steals and 2,295 runs scored. And his 130 steals in 1982 for Oakland is by far the single-season record. Even though Henderson has been retired for five years, he talked only half-jokingly the other day about being activated for a couple of days so he can finish his career with the A's. Henderson last played in the Major Leagues for the Dodgers during the second half of the 2003 season. His 30-game stint ended abruptly because of a shoulder injury. "I love the game and I wanted to continue playing," Henderson said this week. "It came to a time that I had to stop." Henderson played for the A's from 1979-84, from midway through the '89 season to late in '93, in '94 and '95 and finally again in '98. Wolff also said that on Wednesday he met with Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon to talk about an extension to the club's Spring Training site contract, which expires in 2012. The A's play their spring games at aging Phoenix Municipal Stadium and train for the first 10 days at nearby Papago Park. Wolff said he's seeking about $15 million in improvements to the facilities as a caveat to extending the agreement. As numerous new facilities have sprung up around them, the A's are now training in one of the most antiquated complexes in the Phoenix area. A Maricopa County tax on rental cars has helped fund the new facilities, including the publicly-financed portion of Chase Field. "We agreed to start making the improvements incrementally over the next three years," Wolff said. "It hasn't been voted on yet, but it's a done deal."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.