Home News A’s have left a lasting legacy during their 57 seasons in Oakland

A’s have left a lasting legacy during their 57 seasons in Oakland

13
0


The A’s have been as colorful and attention-grabbing, both on and off the field, as their green-and-gold uniforms since they first moved to Oakland.

There’s been the Mustache Gang. The Bash Brothers. Charlie O – the owner AND the mule. The greatest of all time. Moneyball. The voice of God. And The Streak.

How much longer those memories will be made in Oakland wasn’t clear as the A’s prepared to open a season in the East Bay for the 57th time, but there is no question they have left an indelible mark on the Bay Area sports scene.

The Oakland Athletics World Series Championship flags wave in the center field upperdeck during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
The Oakland Athletics World Series Championship flags wave in the center field upperdeck during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

Here’s a look at some of the teams, players and moments that will forever link the A’s to Oakland.

The Streak

For nearly a month in the late summer of 2002, the A’s were the talk of baseball. Starting on Aug. 13 at the Coliseum through Sept. 4, the A’s won a then-American League record 20 straight games.

The A’s had their Big Three starting pitchers  – Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito – at the height of their powers, but it was Cory Lidle who led the team with four wins during the stretch. For much of the streak, the A’s were untouchable. During one 14-game stretch, they outscored their opponents 105-37 and trailed for a total of just five innings.

The Streak also included a Labor Day weekend performance that cemented Miguel Tejada’s MVP credentials with consecutive walk-off hits for wins No. 18 and No. 19.

Then came the thriller for No. 20. With Hudson on the mound, the A’s blew an 11-0 lead to the Royals, but Scott Hatteberg came off the bench in the bottom of the ninth to hit a home run to give the A’s a 12-11 win in front of 55,000 delirious fans.

Third base coach Ron Washington congratulates Scott Hatteberg after his game-winning homer in the ninth inning to beat the Kansas City Royals 12-11, on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2002 in Oakland, Calif. The A's broke the American League record with their 20th consecutive win. (Nick Lammers/Bay Area News Group)
Third base coach Ron Washington congratulates Scott Hatteberg after his game-winning homer in the ninth inning to beat the Kansas City Royals 12-11, on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2002 in Oakland, Calif. The A’s broke the American League record with their 20th consecutive win. (Nick Lammers/Bay Area News Group) 

The A’s went on to win 103 games and the A.L. West. But after taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five ALDS against the Twins, their magical season ended with two straight losses. The A’s held the record streak until 2017, when Cleveland won 22 in a row.

Years later, the streak was revisited in “Moneyball”, the film based on the 2002 season and GM Billy Beane’s role as a sabermetrics revolutionary. Beane cemented his Hall of Fame status by crafting perpetually low-payroll A’s teams into contenders. From 2000 to 2020, the A’s reached the playoffs 11 times. They won just one series, but only the Yankees, Dodgers and Cardinals appeared in the playoffs more often during those 21 years.

Swingin’ A’s

When the A’s arrived from Kansas City in 1968, their roster was loaded with young talent that, in short order, went on to form the core of one of the great dynasties in baseball history.

Nicknamed the “Mustache Gang” because most of the players had long hair (by early 1970s standards, anyway) and grew facial hair to collect a $300 bonus offered by then-owner Charlie O. Finley, the A’s won back-to-back-to-back World Series titles in 1972, ‘73 and ‘74.

From 1969 to 1976, the A’s never finished lower than second in the A.L. West, at one point winning five straight division titles. By the time their dynastic, winning ways ended after the 1976 season, most of their stars had been traded or allowed to depart as free agents.

Oakland Athletic's three 20-game winners, Jim "Catfish" Hunter, Vida Blue and Ken Holtzman. (Photo by Ron Riesterer/Oakland Tribune)
Oakland Athletic’s three 20-game winners, Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Vida Blue and Ken Holtzman. (Photo by Ron Riesterer/Oakland Tribune) 

Jim “Catfish” Hunter, who anchored those rotations along with Vida Blue and Ken Holtzman, delivered the first signature moment in the Oakland era in 1968, in the franchise’s 11th home game, by pitching the AL’s first perfect game in more than 40 years.

Reggie Jackson, who went on to become a cultural icon later in the 1970s with the Yankees, was the biggest star of the era, making the All-Star team six times in eight seasons and winning the MVP in 1973. Gene Tenace went from backup to 1972 World Series hero to All-Star, and Joe Rudi and Campy Campaneris also were All-Stars and vital components. But third baseman Sal Bando was the captain and the one teammates looked to when things got rough. And make no mistake, this could be a volatile bunch,

Among the most notorious scrapes were between John “Blue Moon” Odom and Blue  – in the clubhouse after they had clinched their first World Series berth – Jackson and Bill North, and Rollie Fingers and Odom. But when the A’s were finished fighting each other – and Finley’s tight-fisted financial ways – they took on the rest of the baseball world and usually won.

Bash Brothers

For much of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the A’s were the rock stars of baseball. It’s difficult to imagine now, but the A’s drew nearly 3 million fans to the Coliseum in 1990 and were a top attraction in every A.L. city where they went.

Sluggers Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco introduced the world to the forearm bash home run celebration, but the Bash Brothers were hardly the only stars during an era that saw Oakland reach the World Series three years in a row, from 1988 to 1990, and winning it all in 1989 in the earthquake-interrupted series against the cross-bay rival Giants.

Oakland native Dave Stewart never won a Cy Young award and was an All-Star just once, but he won 20 games in four straight seasons, finishing in the Cy Young voting as high as second to Bret Saberhagen in 1989. Stewart was 6-0 in ALCS games and always seemed to get the best of Boston star Roger Clemens.

Former Oakland Athletics' Dave Stewart talks as he is inducted as a member of the inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame before the A's game against the New York Yankees at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
Former Oakland Athletics’ Dave Stewart talks as he is inducted as a member of the inaugural class of the Athletics Hall of Fame before the A’s game against the New York Yankees at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 

Fremont’s Dennis Eckersley was the top closer in baseball, winning the Cy Young and MVP awards in 1992.

Topping the lineup for the end of the Bash Brothers era was the greatest leadoff hitter of all time. Oakland native Rickey Henderson debuted with the A’s at the age of 20, when the franchise was at one of its bleakest moments, and became an instant star in the “Billy Ball” era. After five seasons with the Yankees, he came home midway through the 1989 season and produced a remarkable postseason that saw him hit .441 (15 for 34) with 12 runs scored, eight RBIs and 11 stolen bases in nine games, as the A’s plowed through the Blue Jays and the Giants for their first title since 1974.

Outside the lines

Then-owner Finley had already built a reputation as a showman before he moved the A’s to Oakland, and he never let up until he sold the franchise … after trying multiple times to move it again.

When the A’s arrived from Kansas City, a mule named Charlie O and a mechanical rabbit named Harvey were part of the package. Charlie O was led past the stands before games, and fans could sit on the mascot for photos. And Harvey popped out of the ground near home plate to deliver fresh baseballs to the umpire.

Finley also brought the A’s colorful uniforms and untraditional white spikes from Kansas City. In Oakland, Finley was the first to hire ball girls, but was unsuccessful in getting MLB to adopt orange baseballs.

Oakland Athletics owner Charles Finley with his mascot Charlie "O" the mule. (1972 photo by Ron Riesterer)
Oakland Athletics owner Charles Finley with his mascot Charlie “O” the mule. (1972 photo by Ron Riesterer) 

Finley also gets credit for hiring Roy Steele, who was the Coliseum public address announcer for nearly 40 years and became known to fans as “The Voice of God.”

And the team has had their share of colorful players who could fill reporters’ notebooks and TV sound bites on and off the field. In the 1970s, it was Reggie, Vida and others fighting Finley and each other. By the late 1980s, the players were treated like celebrities – and gossip writers had a field day when Canseco was linked romantically with pop superstar Madonna in 1991.

Jason Giambi, the 2000 AL MVP,  hit for average and power, partied like a rock star and helped set the stage for its “Moneyball” era success, though fans never forgave him for riding that success and charisma into a record deal with the New York Yankees.

Oakland A’s by the numbers

4 – World Series title won by the Oakland A’s: 1972, 1973, 1974, 1989

7 – MVPs: Vida Blue (1971), Reggie Jackson (1973), Jose Canseco (1988), Rickey Henderson (1990), Dennis Eckersley (1992), Jason Giambi (2000), Miguel Tejada (2002)

5 – Cy Young winners: Vida Blue (1971), Jim “Catfish” Hunter (1974), Bob Welch (1990), Dennis Eckersley (1992), Barry Zito (2002)

1989 Oakland A's: Oakland A's pitcher Dennis Eckersley celebrates after the final out of the 1989 World Series against the San Francisco Giants. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group Archives)
1989 Oakland A’s: Oakland A’s pitcher Dennis Eckersley celebrates after the final out of the 1989 World Series against the San Francisco Giants. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group Archives) (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group Archives)

7 – Rookies of the year: Jose Canseco (1986), Mark McGwire (1987), Walt Weiss (1988), Ben Grieve (1998), Bobby Crosby (2004), Huston Street (2005), Andrew Bailey (2009)

1,406 – Rickey Henderson’s career stolen bases, 468 more than Lou Brock, who is No. 2 in MLB history. Henderson also holds the modern record for steals in a season, 130 in 1982.

17 – Western Division championships

6 – American League pennants

4 – World Series MVPs: Gene Tenace (1972), Reggie Jackson (1973), Rollie Fingers (1974), Dave Stewart (1989)

 

Oakland Athletics' Rickey Henderson holds up third base after breaking Lou Brock's all-time career record for stolen bases during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees in Oakland, Calif. It was his 939th career stolen base. (AP Photo/Alan Greth)
Oakland Athletics’ Rickey Henderson holds up third base after breaking Lou Brock’s all-time career record for stolen bases during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees in Oakland, Calif. It was his 939th career stolen base. (AP Photo/Alan Greth) A.P. Photo

124 – All-Star Game selections: Mark McGwire represented Oakland nine times; Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson are tied for second with six appearances as Oakland A’s.

1 – All-Star Game MVP: Terry Steinbach (1988)

10 – MLB players born in Oakland who played for the A’s



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here