NEW YORK -- Baseball's best leadoff hitter was accused of striking a woman early yesterday in his New York hotel room after inviting her there for drinks.
The woman's husband, Jahann Salarinartin, told police that Rickey Henderson assaulted his wife, Sandra, 23, when she refused to have sex with him. Late yesterday the couple filed a formal complaint with the police against Henderson alleging third-degree assault.
"She said she went up to his room and admits she was drinking heavily," said Lt. Robert Nardoza, a police department spokesman. "She said they had a dispute in the room and he backhanded her, causing a bruise over the left eye."
Police said the woman did not say what the argument was about and that there was no sign of a bruise on her face. According to the police, the couple said they did not want Henderson arrested. Police referred them to Manhattan Criminal Court, where they could request that a summons for harassment be issued against Henderson.
The Oakland A's outfielder, who played for the New York Yankees for four seasons until he was traded in 1989, denied he had had anything but a conversation with the woman at the bar of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. He was in the starting lineup and played against the Yankees last night at Yankee Stadium.
"I don't know why she got so mad and went running around making up this story," Henderson said in his hotel room yesterday afternoon. "Maybe she got home late and her husband was upset she hadn't come home earlier. She was saying all night that she was married. What would I want with her?"
Henderson said that after the A's beat the Yankees, 10-8, Monday night, he joined some teammates and his tailor at the hotel's Sun Garden bar. He said he was drinking and having a good time and talking to everyone when the woman, later identified as Sandra Salarinartin, offered to buy him a beer.
"She said she and her girlfriend saw me when I stole third the last time I was in town. She said they'd leaped up and down yelling, 'Rickey, steal home, steal home!' and wanted to know if I remembered them," said the man who broke Lou Brock's all-time record of 938 stolen bases this season.
He said he was not particularly attracted to the woman and went to his room alone when the bar closed about 1:30 a.m. Sources, however, said Henderson and A's teammate Mike Gallego went to Henderson's room with Salarinartin and a friend of hers, identified only as Susan, who was with Gallego.