Greatest of All

May 04, 1991

"I am the greatest of all time," said Oakland's Rickey Henderson after stealing third base the other night. It ain't bragging if you can back it up, and here's what the statistics say: Most stolen bases in a lifetime -- Rickey Henderson 939, Lou Brock 938, Ty Cobb 892.

Mr. Henderson, a marvelous player, certainly overshadows all modern base-stealers, but with respect to the alacritous Athletic, here's one vote for Ty Cobb as still the greatest of all time. He played in a less record-happy era, 1905-1928. When Cobb stole a base it wasn't to pad his personal statistics, but to win games.

That same night another marvel, Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers, broke two records when he stifled Toronto without a hit. It was his seventh no-hitter, by far the most by any pitcher ever, and at 44 he is the oldest ever to throw a no-hitter. And whose name did Mr. Ryan erase from the record books? Why, his own; he already was the mostest and the oldest -- and in the microcosmic world of no-hitters, the greatest of all time.

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