There’s Rollie’s mustache, Niekro’s knuckler, Goose’s gas … and then there’s Rickey.
Who knows what Rickey Henderson will bring to the fifth annual Baseball Hall of Fame Classic that will start at 2:15 p.m. Saturday at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown?
“Knowing Rickey, he might be auditioning for a major league club,” Hall President Jeff Idelson joked of the 54-year-old Henderson, who’ll make his Classic debut.
Of all the Hall of Famers who’ve played in the seven-inning exhibition featuring former major leaguers, Henderson’s credentials top them all. The 2009 inductee retired in 2003 as baseball’s all-time leader in runs (2,295) and stolen bases (1,405), and finished his 25-year career with a .401 on-base percentage.
Windsor’s Joel Bennett — a big-league pitcher in 1998 and 1999 — will appear in the Classic for the third straight year and said he looks forward to sharing Doubleday with Henderson.
“I was not a huge fan growing up, but (Henderson) was somebody I wanted to watch,” said Bennett, who coached Windsor’s varsity baseball team to a 1-1 record against Oneonta High this spring. “He was definitely one of those guys. The first game I saw at Yankee Stadium, he led off with a single to center and I still remember watching it. It’s a great opportunity to play with him.”
Fellow Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Phil Niekro and Goose Gossage — all Classic veterans — will join Henderson on Saturday.
Festivities begin at noon Saturday with a parade on Main Street, featuring the game’s participants as well as the 10th Mountain Division Band and Color Guard.
A hitting contest will start at 1 p.m. at Doubleday, leading up to the first pitch at 2:15 p.m.
The lineups for the exhibition will be announced by managers Bobby Cox and Cito Gaston at 10 a.m. Saturday during a Voices of the Game event in the museum’s Grandstand Theatre. Cox and Gaston, both eligible for Hall induction in 2014, matched wits in the 1992 World Series, with Gaston’s Blue Jays earning a six-game win over the Braves.