Now that Rickey is back, sports writers are breaking out their favorite Rickey stories abour Rickey being Rickey.Newsday’s Jim Baumbach just published some gems this afternoon. Here are some of the highlights:
– On a private meeting with George Steinbrenner to discuss his criticisms, Rickey insisted he wasn't bothered one bit. "I'm like a branch floating in the breeze," he said.
– He's well known for not remembering his teammates' names, and one of his former teammates once told me a story about how Rickey was forced to stand on the team bus and list everyone's names. Of course, he couldn't do it.
– Then there's the story that Tony Gwynn likes to repeat, about how when they were teammates on the Padres Gwynn offered Rickey a prime seat on the team bus because, he explained, Rickey had tenure. As the story goes, Rickey responded with something to the effect of, "What are you talking about? Rickey's got 17 years."
– Now let's fast forward to Rickey's short but eventful time with the Mets. He explained on his first day of spring training in 1999 that part of the reason he doesn't always know teammates' names is because, "I like nicknames." And, also, he said, "I never get that close to pitchers."
- He started camp just 1-for-20, but he wasn't worried. "If Rickey had to get on base right now, Rickey would."
– And, one final story I came across was a bizarre shouting match Rickey had with none other than El Duque during a spring training game in 2002. It wasn't clear what exactly bothered El Duque. He began yelling and they eventually had to be held back. "He needs to grow up a little bit," Rickey said. "I ain't a kid. When I broke into the game, he was crawling on his hands and knees. Unless he's as old as I am. He probably is."