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Henderson to return to Garden State?

Updated: April 22, 2003, 1:14 PM ET
By By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
Twenty-five years ago, Rickey Henderson came to New Jersey for his third year of pro ball in the Oakland Athletics farm system. There are indications that he will be returning to the Garden State in the hopes of perpetuating his career.

As part of the minor league baseball boom that has gripped the nation in the past decade, New Jersey is now chock full of both affiliated and independent ballclubs. In the 1970s, however, minor league ball had not been in the state for some time. The famous Newark Bears Yankee affiliate had closed its doors in 1949 and Jersey City had last hosted a team in 1961. There was some talk of moving a major league team (perhaps the San Francisco Giants who were always threatening to move somewhere) to the Meadowlands, so it made sense to try to revive baseball in the area with another foray into the minor leagues. Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City was taken out of mothballs in 1977 and the Cleveland Indians placed their Double A affiliate there. On the field, the team was a disaster, not even finishing with a .300 winning percentage.

The next season, the affiliation was switched to Oakland and with that switch came Rickey Henderson. A Henderson won the batting title that year, but it wasn't Rickey -- it was Mike, a Brewers farmhand who never made the majors. Rickey finished fourth in batting average, just behind Wade Boggs of Bristol, soon to become the home of ESPN. (Rounding out the top four was Jeff Yurak, also of the Brewers. For his trouble he was rewarded with a trip to the majors that fall where he got his only six big league at bats.)

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