Dave Henderson seemed huge during his playing days. Maybe it was the fu-manchu or the way he stood at the plate, but he always appeared bigger than his listed size (6’2″, 210 lbs). His outstanding production during the playoffs didn’t hurt either, and back in the 1980s and early ’90s the playoffs were the only time a kid from Eureka got to watch Henderson do his thing — other than occasional highlights on the evening news.
Henderson wasn’t as big as some of his teammates on those great Oakland teams, and he had some very interesting things to say about Jose Canseco’s steroid use. During an interview with John Lund and Greg Papa on 95.7 FM The Game, Henderson talked about Canseco’s juicing being common knowledge, as well as his thoughts on whether anyone who’s been linked to PEDs should get into the Hall of Fame. Here’s a transcript:
Lund: It’s going to be interesting because in the Hall of Fame, these guys are going to start coming up. Barry’s going to come up, McGwire and Sosa and so forth. What’s your opinion, what should be done there?
Henderson: I think it’s pretty simple. None of ’em get in. I’m one of the guys that was going legal and playing against all these pitchers and hitters, and I noticed it through my career that guys started hitting the ball 20, 30 feet farther. And it wasn’t fair but I couldn’t do anything about it. So they don’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. It’s pretty simple.
Papa: So you would not put McGwire in the Hall of Fame, Hendu.
Henderson: I said none of ’em. Even A-Rod, none of ’em. If you cheated, you’re not a Hall of Famer.
Lund: What was the choice like? Did you ever get tempted when you were watching all this stuff?
Henderson: I think it’s pretty simple. I grew up with good parents, and my parents taught me not to take drugs. And it happens, steroids are drugs, right? So, I didn’t have a choice. I don’t take drugs, so I never took steroids. I had no temptation at all.
Papa: What was the clubhouse reception I guess is the word for Jose when he was at the very height of his powers? 40-40 guy in ’88, arguably the best player in baseball at that time. But it just seemed like you and Carny and Rickey and everybody didn’t always hang with Jose. How did Jose get along with that bunch at the time, Dave?
Henderson: Let’s start off, Jose’s not a bad guy. Let’s get this straight. He was just kind of out there. He wanted to be a superstar, movie star, and we were all about baseball. He had different agendas than we did. He was the first guy to have a 1-900 number. Pretty smart on his part. Made a lot of money that way.
Papa: $2.99 a minute!
Henderson: Yeah, there you go. I don’t know why people called that crap, but they did. He made money. But it was amazing. He was on a different agenda than we were and that’s all it was. And he did the steroids and he admitted it and I think he’s one of the guys you guys got to respect because he came out like a man and said he did it all along. But Jose’s not a bad guy, let’s get that straight.
After talking about no-hitters and the current state of the A’s for a couple minutes…
Papa: I just wanted to go back to Jose, because your comments, what you said about Jose were very intriguing to me. Did you guys know in the clubhouse, did you know personally that Jose was using steroids when you played with him, starting in the late ’80s, Dave?
Henderson: I did because my locker was right next to him and he told me. Myself, I’ve never actually seen a steroid, wouldn’t know what one looks like. But when a guy brags about it, that, you know, “I’ve got big muscles, I take steroids,” it’s pretty obvious he took ’em, so…
Papa: He would just come right out and tell you, would he show ’em to you? He was that open, right in front of an open clubhouse?
Henderson: No, he would show his muscles, not the steroids. I’ve never seen a steroid. But he would show his muscles and how strong he was and things like that, and brag. But he did ’em, and he has to live with that for the rest of his life.
Lund: So it was pretty much common knowledge, guys just knew it but it was just you didn’t say anything about it?
Henderson: All I know is Rickey, myself and Canseco, our lockers were right next to each other. So us three knew, I’m not sure how much it spread through the clubhouse. But I think it was pretty obvious that when a guy gains 40 or 50 pounds (laughs) of muscle, he’s on steroids.
Papa: And he started twitching and stuttering, and it was like he turned into a whole different guy.