- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2001

SAN DIEGO (AP) Rickey Henderson promised he'd slide into home plate to officially mark his reign as baseball's career runs leader.
When the moment arrived yesterday, the game's biggest showman kept his word even though he homered.
Henderson, San Diego's leadoff batter, passed Ty Cobb with No. 2,246 and celebrated feet first as the Padres beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-3.
"Sliding into home plate was really a treat for my teammates," the 42-year-old Henderson said. "I think they were expecting me to go headfirst into home plate but I told them I hate sliding into home plate headfirst, so I eventually went feet first.
"It was a thrill, and I guess I made their day as well as my day."
Henderson, in his 23rd big league season, homered off the top of the left-field fence with one out in the third inning on a 93-mph fastball from right-hander Luke Prokopec (8-7).
Henderson clapped his hands and pumped his right fist as he rounded first following his 2,998th career hit.
As he came around third with a big smile on his face, he motioned with his left hand for his teammates to leave enough room for the slide. He popped up and was mobbed.
"It was so fitting for him to hit a home run and he can decide what he does, and we'll play off whatever he does," Tony Gwynn said. "And he comes sliding into home plate and the guys loved it. They were all over him. To me, that's what the game is all about."
Even the Dodgers applauded during the four-minute delay to honor Henderson.
"He is amazing," Los Angeles' Marquis Grissom said. "It's tough not to marvel at what he's accomplished. Of course, Rickey does it with style, which is what you'd expect from him."
Padres rookie Jason Middlebrook (2-1) got the win. Middlebrook, who allowed homers No. 65, 66 and 68 to Barry Bonds, also got his first major league hit and RBI, singling in Damian Jackson in the fourth. He allowed one run and five hits in six innings, struck out three and walked two.
Since Henderson couldn't rip out home plate and hold it over his head, which he did with third base when he became all-time steals leader in 1991, Gwynn presented him with a gilded major league home plate with a plaque marking the milestone. So Henderson held that over his head instead.
Henderson then answered a curtain call, bowing to the fans and blowing kisses.
"Going out and scoring so many runs, it's just not an individual record," said Henderson, who added that he also wants the real home plate. "It's a record that you've got to have your teammates help you out. Over 23 years, I have had some great teammates who have battled for me, have knocked me in and I've come across the plate to achieve this record."
Henderson said the only thing better would be to set the runs record with his 3,000th hit.
It looked like Henderson got hit No. 2,999 in the fourth inning when he lobbed a ball into shallow right field on a checked-swing. The ball appeared to land on the line, but first base umpire John Shulock the crew chief had his back turned as he got out of the way and didn't see it. Plate umpire Mike Everitt held his palms up like he didn't get a good look, then indicated foul ball.
Henderson didn't argue, but Padres first base coach Alan Trammell pointed repeatedly at the spot where the ball landed. Henderson, who grounded out, finished 1-for-4 with a walk and two RBI.

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