To round out our list of “memorable Mets batting stances” is a Hall of Famer who spent part of the twilight of his career in Queens. Rickey Henderson played for the Mets in 1999 and their World Series-appearance year of 2000, though the Mets released him in May well before they faced the Yankees in that year’s Fall Classic.
When Henderson prepared to bat, he appeared even shorter than his 5’10” height thanks to his pronounced crouch over the plate and high leg kick. With that approach, it is remarkable that he ever hit a pitch above the knees.
“I must be doing something right, because kids keep telling me they’re using my stance,” said Henderson in a 1981 interview with Sports Illustrated. “I can see the ball better this way than standing up. Stand-up hitters see only the top half of the ball. I see the whole thing.”
His strike zone was small because of his stance, but clearly it helped Henderson rather than hurt him. He is a member of the 3,000-hit club and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. His quick bat speed overcame any inefficiencies that his stance may have brought on, and Henderson found himself on base enough times throughout his career to become the all-time leader in stolen bases by a long shot. His 1406 career steals put him nearly five hundred ahead of Lou Brock, whose 938 swiped bags are second on the all-time list.
“You can say that you slow down with old age, but I still work hard, read pitchers and get good jumps,” said Henderson after he signed with the Mets in December of 1998. “Base stealing is about getting good jumps not about speed. . . That’s why I keep going. I want to go out and challenge Ty’s and Babe Ruth’s [all-time runs and walks records]. It makes you want to keep playing.”
While with the Mets, Henderson was not quite the base stealer he had been earlier in his career but was a threat to steal nonetheless. In 152 games with the Amazins across 1999 and 2000, Henderson stole 42 bases, scored 106 runs, and collected 159 hits. He came to the Mets motivated to continue producing out of the leadoff spot, and that is exactly what he did.
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All of these players approached hitting somewhat unconventionally, but their unique stances made them especially memorable Mets players. The Amazins have not had a particularly unusual batting stance come through Queens in quite some time, but I look forward to rooting for the next Mets player that makes me furrow my brow in confusion whenever they step up to bat.