By Drew Olson Special to Published Jan 11, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Baseball writers who covered games during Rickey Henderson's 25-year career could be reasonably certain about a few things:

Rickey was going to bat first (he was arguably the best leadoff batter of all time).

Rickey was more than likely going to play well (3,055 hits, 510 doubles, 297 homers, 1,406 stolen bases).

Rickey was going to refer to himself in the third person ("Rickey was looking for a fastball on that pitch...").

And, if he ever got around to retiring, Rickey would go into the Baseball Hall of Fame five years after his final game.

That day arrives Monday.

Henderson, who turned 50 on Christmas Day, is considered a lock to join baseball's immortals in Cooperstown with the Class of 2009 is unveiled by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson beginning at 12:30 p.m. Monday on the MLB Network and

The only real drama is whether Henderson will eclipse Tom Seaver's record of being named on 98.84% of the ballots.

Henderson is among 10 newcomers on the 23-man Hall of Fame ballot, the smallest in history. In order to punch their ticket to the Hall, players must receive votes from 75 percent of the electorate, which is made up of 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. No player ever has been a unanimous choice, but Henderson will come close.

He was a game-changer at the top of the lineup. He led off games with homers 81 times. When he didn't homer, he'd often walk, steal second and find his way home. Henderson was "Moneyball" before "Moneyball" was en vogue. His career on-base percentage is .401. He scored 100 or more runs 13 times and ended up crossing the plate more than any player in history.

The induction ceremony, baseball's signature off-field event of the summer, is slated for July 26 in Cooperstown, N.Y. Henderson's speech, given his unique style of communicating, will be one of the more anticipated oratories in the history of the ceremony.

When he beat Lou Brock's record for stolen bases, Henderson grabbed the microphone and told the crowd, which included Brock: ""Lou Brock was a symbol of great base stealing, but today I am the greatest of all time."

While Henderson joins the list of first-ballot inductees, former Boston slugger Jim Rice is seeking induction on his 15th and final appearance on the ballot. Rice, who finished his career with 382 homers, received 72.7 percent of the ballot last season -- 16 shy of election. Every player who has reached 70 percent eventually has earned induction.

Rice was a .298 career hitter with 382 home runs, 2,452 hits and 1,451 RBI in 16 seasons, all with the Red Sox, He led the American League in home runs three times and was first in slugging percentage and RBI twice. He was the American League's most valuable player in 1978, the year before Henderson broke in.

If Rice doesn't make it, he'll be at the mercy of the Veterans Committee, a group comprised mostly of Hall of Famers. Former Yankees and Indians second baseman Joe Gordon was elected by the Veterans Committee last month and will join Henderson during the induction.

Other players with a chance for induction include Andrew Dawson, who was on the ballot for the eighth time, and Burt Blyleven, who was on for the 12th time. Dawson earned 358 votes (65.9 percent) last year and Blyleven was right behind him with 336 votes (61.9 percent).

Drew Olson Special to

Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.