Everything about him made you wince and gasp at the same time. How does a major-league ballplayer, for instance, end up playing for nine different teams, while also rejoining his first team, the Oakland Athletics, four times? Why would a major-league outfielder insist on grabbing oncoming flyballs with an angry-looking one-handed slicing motion, as if they were, well, horseflies? Why would a left-handed guy bat right-handed in the first place, reversing the throws-right, bats-left preference that is so advantageous to a batter? Why did Rickey talk in a whiney Peter Lorre–Richard Widmark whimper, and refer to himself most of the time in the third person, as he did, as I recall, on the day in the A’s’ clubhouse when he first appeared wearing the club’s spanking brand-new uniform, which had replaced the execrable Charlie Finley polyesters: “Ree-kee ain’ goon’ be steal-in’ no bay-ses in this uneee-fohmmm!” Why did Rickey fold himself into a wizened gum ball, an arthritic Yoda, while standing up at the plate?
It was all on purpose, of course.
Read on here.