Padres coaches marvel and ask: At 42, what makes Rickey run?


The subject was as easily embraced as an elephant.

How to explain Rickey Henderson, all those runs he's scored and that at age 42 he's still quicker than many big-leaguers? Three baseball lifers tried, but each could only utter a few sentences, smile and shake his head.

The first subject: 2,244 runs, Henderson's total that remains one behind Ty Cobb's all-time record after he went 0-for-2 last night and failed to score."I can't comprehend it," said Alan Trammell, who played 20 years in the majors and will be on Hall of Fame ballots. "It's like trying to comprehend Cal Ripken's streak. I never played 162 games in a season, and Ripken played every game for 17 years in a row and for like 15 didn't miss an inning."

In 1979, Trammell was a sophomore shortstop with the Detroit Tigers. Tim Flannery was a San Diego Padres rookie who would play in Puerto Rico after the season. Rob Picciolo was an infielder with the Oakland Athletics.

Henderson? He rocketed into the big leagues that year.

Picciolo: "I was sitting with him in spring camp when he was being sent down because they wanted him to play a little more. I remember telling him, `It's not going to be long before you come back, and when you do, you will be here a long time.' "

Flannery: "I batted second behind him in Puerto Rico. We were on the Ponce Leones, and here's this young guy with a rock-hard body. Watching him, I thought, `He's a freak of nature.' "

Trammell: "I'd actually seen him in 1976 at the North-South prep all-star game at Anaheim Stadium. He led off the game with a double. I remember seeing this solid body, like he was now."

All three men are Padres coaches, each in his 40s, each still in awe of Henderson, though they've seen him every day this season.

What they can't figure is how Henderson's first step remains so quick, so explosive.

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