Did Rickey Henderson use steroids?

Now that I have your attention, let me get this out of the way: I have nothing factual to back this up other than some oblique quotes from Jose Canseco and good, old-fashioned deduction.

Now that I have your attention, let me get this out of the way: I have nothing factual to back this up other than some oblique quotes from Jose Canseco and good, old-fashioned deduction.
“Major League Baseball is going to have a big, big problem on their hands when they find out they have a Hall of Famer who’s used,” said Jose Canseco to ESPN today.
He declined to name who that player was, saying he wasn’t in the business of naming names (really?) and then says “I know who’s on that list,” and the way it read to me implied the Hall of Famer was on that list.
Canseco then goes on to say “If you were in the game in the last 20 years, there’s a 95 percent chance you were knowingly using something.”
Strong words. They’re also pretty damning when you tie them all together.
For a player to be on the list and still make the Hall of Fame, he would have to have retired in 2003. Let’s look at the numbers.
Jose Canseco played for the Oakland Athletics from 1985 to mid-1992. That means he and Rickey Henderson were teammates from mid-1989 to mid-1992.
That enough isn’t alone to toss Rickey’s name around. But how about this: Rickey’s final season happened to be the season these anonymous players tested positive. Rickey was 44 and trying like hell to hang on. Do you think he cared if he tested positive anonymously? (If, of course, he did.)
Then there’s the fact there’s never been any mention by Jose Canseco before this to the best of my knowledge that a Hall of Famer was on steroids.
Pretty easy to tie all the loose ends together.
If true, it will be a steroid bombshell to end all bombshells. But apparently no more names will be released from the list, and the leaking hasn’t been systematic. Riiiight.

Categories: Quick Post Rickey Henderson

Born on the 37th anniversary of the the day Babe Ruth died (1985) which later became the day Jimy Williams was fired in 2001 (a monumental event at the time), Evan was too young to experience the pain 1986 brought, but a deep wound was sowed in 2003. Since then, Fire Brand has become a blog that Red Sox “club officials read,” as per Peter Gammons. Evan enjoys working out, writing, reading, quality television, science fiction and history and being newly married. He is a professional baseball journalist as well as president of a state non-profit and member of the Board of Directors for a national profit. (Twitter.)

24 Responses to “Did Rickey Henderson use steroids?” Subscribe

  1. Shane July 30, 2009 at 5:02 PM #

    Canseco is a blowhard. Yeah, I thought of Ricky too when I read that he knew of a HoFer that was juicing. But if he really knew why wasn't it in his first two books?

  2. Richard July 30, 2009 at 5:13 PM #

    There are only 2 Hall of Famers to play in 2003, Tony Gwynn (2007) and Rickey Henderson (2009). Rickey is the more likely candidate. He tried like hell to continue. He had a huge ego and the body of a pincushin.
    The Hall of Fame reference from Canseco does only come after Henderson was inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this week. MLB and Bud Selig have a big problem on their hand. Actually, Bud has a bigger problem. He personally knew about all the performance enhancements and continued to let them slide without doing anything. He is incompetent and should have been gone years ago. Hopefully he will be in federal prision soon.

  3. Eric July 30, 2009 at 5:47 PM #

    wow Evan, I was definitely thinking that when I saw Rickey during all the pressers and interviews. I definitely was having my doubts nearly the ENTIRE time that I sat through the coverage of his induction. Little too ripped, too well connected, the coincidences are too much to ignore. Usually the simplest explanation is the most likely.

  4. Eric July 30, 2009 at 5:49 PM #

    That logic prepared me for today's news. When it came out earlier this year about Manny, I immediately had to make peace with the idea that more than likely I'd be hearing Papi's name connected with this List sooner or later.

  5. Anonymous July 30, 2009 at 6:00 PM #

    Ricky Henderson 88-89 : 1hr ever 54 ABs.
    Traded back A's in mid 1989, joining Canseco & MCGwire:
    Ricky 90-93: 1hr every 25 ABs.

  6. Anonymous July 30, 2009 at 6:06 PM #

    While were at it:
    Dave Stewart 81-86: 45-50 record
    With the A's : 107-66

  7. Gerry July 30, 2009 at 6:21 PM #

    I want to know the names of the "two lawyers" (talk about checking sources) who leaked this. Are the same ones who leaked about A-Rod, etc.? Whoever is doing this has access to sealed, confidential records and have broken that seal and that confidentiality. As lawyers, this is a matter for the BAR Association to take up. I hope they are suspended for unethical behavior, and are paraded in the press like the ball players whose lives they are so anonymously destroying.
    I think the players should sue those who didn't destroy the records, and parade them in public also. These creepy cretins are destroying careers, reputations and lives. And they are leaking this information slowly in a way that hurts the game. The players agreed to be tested in confidence, and all kinds of legal documents were signed to insure this. Those who violate these agreements should be held legally and ethically responsible.

  8. Erik July 30, 2009 at 6:35 PM #

    While were at it:
    Dave Stewart 81-86: 45-50 record
    With the A's : 107-66
    Above is a very good point!
    Stewart will never be in the hall but we can't ignore the numbers. The same should be said for Henderson. The roid era is a complete mess and baseball will never be the same.

  9. Bob July 30, 2009 at 6:35 PM #

    you're absolutely right about the lawyers I know it sounds like bitching now that a Sox player got revealed but honestly A-Rod shouldn't have been brought out either. it is an absolute case of ethical misconduct and an even bigger failure by MLB for not keeping the 2003 survey tests anonymous and destroying the list as they had promised.
    The selective way in which these names have been revealed to only include players from the Yankees and Red Sox also reveals how unethical this is.
    If I were the players union I would absolutely be filing suit against these "lawyers" and against MLB for failing to uphold the terms set forth in the CBA that started tests in the first place.

  10. Anonymous July 30, 2009 at 6:38 PM #

    even bigger failure by MLB for not keeping the 2003 survey tests anonymous
    Check your facts. The players union controlled the final test results.

  11. Bob July 30, 2009 at 6:46 PM #

    as for Canseco it's hard not to believe him these days, for being such a blowhard he doesn't appear to have lied much at all, even if he is a huge sleaze. he didn't out Rickey in name but it wouldn't be super surprising. Frankly as I've said before I don't give a damn and don't think it taints anything. Bob Gibson pitched off a higher mound and Babe Ruth never had to face a black player every baseball era has something that distinguishes it from another, steroids are no different. and for that matter there isn't a ton of proof that they help all that much, they don't increase hand eye coordination or reflexes just muscle strength and recovery.
    and before you start sighting home run totals let me remind you that for every Bonds or Ortiz there's a Manny Alexander. Other factors had just as much to do with higher offensive numbers than steroids including a lower mound, MLB juicing the balls after 1994, rapidly shrinking park dimensions, statistical analysis helping teams discover which players are actually good hitters (no surprise that the teams that use the most advanced stats have the best offenses) and advances in strength training and nutrition aside from steroids. did PEDs play a role sure, but there are more important factors as to why offenses have gotten so much better, its impossible to isolate them

  12. Bob July 30, 2009 at 6:50 PM #

    my bad, it still doesnt change the fact that the leaking of the results is a gross case of ethical misconduct. mabe if I were A Rod or Ortiz I'd take some action against the uinon that's supposed to protect me

  13. Mike July 30, 2009 at 10:08 PM #

    #2 Tony Gwynn didn't play in 2003. He retired in 2001 along with Cal Ripken Jr. Get your facts straight.

  14. Anonymous July 31, 2009 at 6:38 AM #

    He's not talking about Rickey – he's talking about Reggie

  15. Shane July 31, 2009 at 7:25 AM #

    Reggie Jackson? What gives you that idea?

  16. Shane July 31, 2009 at 7:32 AM #

    During a sound bit last night on the MLB network Nomar claims certain players purposely withheld participation in the 2003 survey so they would be listed as positive and force the margin to be above 5%. I haven't seen a thing about that this morning. Did anybody else see it? It was a little bizarre.

  17. https://me.yahoo.com July 31, 2009 at 7:48 AM #

    Jose Canseco has specifically said that Rickey was 100% clean. He's said it more than once, but the most visible was probably at a book signing of his book, and this was captured by a TV crew and broadcast quite widely at the time. I wish I could find the clip, but I'm sure there's a record of it in many places. In fact, Conseco bent over backwards to emphasize that Rickey was absolutely clean and untainted. Your original post should really be amended, as it just fuels speculation that is unwarranted and totally unfair to Rickey.

  18. andy July 31, 2009 at 7:56 AM #

    "I have no knowledge of Rickey using steroids in any manner, shape or form," Canseco said in an interview with 950 ESPN radio in Philadelphia.

  19. https://me.yahoo.com July 31, 2009 at 8:10 AM #

    Posted by Anonymous, July 30, 2009 10:00 PM
    Ricky Henderson 88-89 : 1hr ever 54 ABs.
    Traded back A's in mid 1989, joining Canseco & MCGwire:
    Ricky 90-93: 1hr every 25 ABs.
    Oh, come on…this is a complete BS stat.
    Rickey Henderson 85-86: 1 HR every 22.2 ABs. Once he returned to Oakland he simply regained the form he displayed prior to a relatively weak years in 88-89. And actually, he never did quite get back to his pre-87 average.

  20. https://me.yahoo.com July 31, 2009 at 8:44 AM #

    Canseco says it's not Rickey.

  21. Anonymous July 31, 2009 at 8:50 AM #

    1986 Angels – Downing, Joyner, Jackson
    1987 A's – Canseco, McGwire, Jackson
    Jackson was a monster at the end of his career. Regardless of what he says publicly about steroids, I'd be very suspicious.

  22. JR August 3, 2009 at 4:51 PM #

    Rickey Henderson wasn't on steroids, if Rickey Henderson was on steroids, the sport of baseball would have seen the first ever 50-150 man. You dont give a player with Rickey's ability steroids and have it go unnoticed. If Rickey were juicing, it would have been as obvious as Barry Bonds' 73 HR's. This is Rickey Henderson we are talking about, not FP Santangelo.

  23. Sid August 3, 2009 at 6:17 PM #

    I am a hypocrite because I want the game cleaned up, but I still find the monster homers exciting.
    Having said that, I have read things linking Gwynn to steroids (through Caminiti), and I've also read that someone associated with Reggie Jackson used steroids in the '70s. Who knows? I don't know why the HOF guys care – most of them admit to "greenies", which were essentially performance enhancers.

  24. Mark January 14, 2010 at 1:14 PM #

    Why not Rickey Henderson? He had a chiseled physique, his body never broke down, he was able to steal bases in his 40's, all time leader in lead off home runs. He was a big ball player to steal bases like he did. He was with Canseco an McGwire during those days. Steroids do not help home runs, they help to recover from injuries quicker and keep your body in peak condition. Some may suggest Cal Ripken, Jr. I hope not, but what is there to belive anymore. Smaller ball parks and weak pitching help home runs. Just adjust the ball park to create home runs. Look at Celluar Field (White Sox) in Chicago. A few modifications and the home run totatls jumped the next year. New Yankee Stadium. Look at the average ERA, it keeps rising each year. Just my opinion.