Oakland Athletics History
May 17, 2021
I figured I should brush up on my team history before tonight's ballgane. The Oakland Athletics, often referred to as the A's, are an American professional baseball team based in Oakland The Athletics compete in Major League Baseball(MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) West division. The team plays its home games at the RingCentral Coliseum. Throughout their history, the Athletics have won nine World Series championships.
One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the team was founded in Philadelphia in 1901 as the Philadelphia Athletics. They won three World Series championships in 1910, 1911, and 1913, and back-to-back titles in 1929 and 1930. The team's owner and manager for its first 50 years was Connie Mack and Hall of Fame players included Chief Bender, Frank "Home Run" Baker, Jimmie Foxx, and Lefty Grove. The team left Philadelphia for Kansas City in 1955 and became the Kansas City Athletics before moving to Oakland in 1968. They won three consecutive World Series in 1972, 1973, and 1974, led by players including Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, and owner Charlie O. Finley. After being sold by Finley to Walter A. Haas Jr., the team won three consecutive pennants and the 1989 World Series behind the "Bash Brothers", Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, as well as Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Hendersonand manager Tony La Russa.
Main articles: History of the Philadelphia Athletics and History of the Oakland Athletics The history of the Athletics Major League Baseball franchise spans the period from 1901 to the present day, having begun in Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City in 1955 and then to its current home in Oakland, California, in 1968. The A's made their Bay Areadebut on Wednesday, April 17, 1968, with a 4–1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at the Coliseum, in front of an opening-night crowd of 50,164.
The Athletics' name originated in the term "Athletic Club" for local gentlemen's clubs—dates to 1860 when an amateur team, the Athletic (Club) of Philadelphia, was formed. (A famous image from that era, published in Harper's Weekly in 1866, shows the Athletic players dressed in uniforms displaying the familiar blackletter "A" on the front.) The team later turned professional through 1875, becoming a charter member of the National League in 1876, but were expelled from the N.L. after one season. A later version of the Athletics played in the American Associationfrom 1882 to 1891.
After New York Giants manager John McGraw told reporters that Philadelphia manufacturer Benjamin Shibe, who owned the controlling interest in the new team, had a "white elephant on his hands", team manager Connie Mack defiantly adopted the white elephant as the team mascot, and presented McGraw with a stuffed toy elephant at the start of the 1905 World Series. McGraw and Mack had known each other for years, and McGraw accepted it graciously. By 1909, the A's were wearing an elephant logo on their sweaters, and in 1918 it turned up on the regular uniform jersey for the first time.
In 1963, when the A's were located in Kansas City, then-owner Charlie Finley changed the team mascot from an elephant to a mule, the state animal of Missouri. This is rumored to have been done by Finley in order to appeal to fans from the region who were predominantly Democrats at the time. (The traditional Republican Party symbol is an elephant, while the Democratic Party's symbol is a donkey.)Since 1988, the Athletics' 21st season in Oakland, an illustration of an elephant has adorned the left sleeve of the A's home and road uniforms. Beginning in the mid 1980s, the on-field costumed incarnation of the A's elephant mascot went by the name Harry Elephante. In 1997, he took his current form, Stomper. Stomper was debuted during Opening Night on April 2, 1997.
Through the seasons, the Athletics' uniforms have usually paid homage to their amateur forebears to some extent. Until 1954, when the uniforms had "Athletics" spelled out in script across the front, the team's name never appeared on either home or road uniforms. Furthermore, neither "Philadelphia" nor the letter "P" ever appeared on the uniform or cap. The typical Philadelphia uniform had only a script "A" on the left front, and likewise the cap usually had the same "A" on it. In the early days of the American League, the standings listed the club as "Athletic" rather than "Philadelphia", in keeping with the old tradition. Eventually, the city name came to be used for the team, as with the other major league clubs.
After buying the team in 1960, owner Charles O. Finley introduced new road uniforms with "Kansas City" printed on them, as well as an interlocking "KC" on the cap. Upon moving to Oakland, the "A" cap emblem was restored, although in 1970 an "apostrophe-s" was added to the cap and uniform emblem to reflect the fact that Finley was in the process of officially changing the team's name to the "A's".
The Athletics logo (1983–1992)
Also while in Kansas City, Finley changed the team's colors from their traditional red, white and blue to what he termed "Kelly Green, Wedding Gown White and Fort Knox Gold". It was also here that he began experimenting with dramatic uniforms to match these bright colors, such as gold sleeveless tops with green undershirts and gold pants. The innovative uniforms only increased after the team's move to Oakland, which also came at the time of the introduction of polyester pullover uniforms. During their dynasty years in the 1970s, the A's had dozens of uniform combinations with jerseys and pants in all three team colors, and in fact did not wear the traditional gray on the road, instead wearing green or gold, which helped to contribute to their nickname of "The Swingin' A's". After the team's sale to the Haas family, the team changed its primary color to a more subdued forest green and began a move back to more traditional uniforms.
Currently, the team wears home uniforms with "Athletics" spelled out in script writing and road uniforms with "Oakland" spelled out in script writing, with the cap logo consisting of the traditional "A" with "apostrophe-s". The home cap is green with a gold bill and white lettering, while the road cap, debuting in 2014, is all green with "A's" in white with gold trim. Regardless of road or home games, the batting helmets used are green with gold brim. However, before 2009, when the black A's helmets appeared, road helmets were green with green brim.
From 1994 until 2013, the A's wore green alternate jerseys with the word "Athletics" in gold. It was used on both road and home games. During the 2000s, the Athletics introduced black as one of their colors. They began wearing a black alternate jersey with "Athletics" written in green. After a brief discontinuance, the A's brought back the black jersey, this time with "Athletics" written in white with gold highlights. Commercially popular but rarely chosen as the alternate by players, in 2011 they were replaced by a new gold alternate jersey with "A's" in green on the left chest. With the exception of several road games during the 2011 season, the Athletics' gold uniforms are used as the designated home alternates. A green version of their gold alternates was introduced for the 2014 season to replace their previous green alternates. The new green alternates feature the piping, "A's" and lettering in white with gold trim.
In 2018, as part of the franchise's 50th anniversary since the move to Oakland, the A's wore a kelly green alternate uniform with "Oakland" in white with gold trim, and was paired with an all-kelly green cap.
The nickname "A's" has long been used interchangeably with "Athletics", dating to the team's early days when headline writers wanted a way to shorten the name. From 1972 through 1980, the team nickname was officially "Oakland A's", although, during that time, the Commissioner's Trophy, given out annually to the winner of baseball's World Series, still listed the team's name as the "Oakland Athletics" on the gold-plated pennant representing the Oakland franchise. According to Bill Libby's Book, Charlie O and the Angry A's, owner Charlie O. Finley banned the word "Athletics" from the club's name because he felt that name was too closely associated with former Philadelphia Athletics owner Connie Mack, and he wanted the name "Oakland A's" to become just as closely associated with him. The name also vaguely suggested the name of the old minor league Oakland Oaks, which were alternatively called the "Acorns". New owner Walter Haas restored the official name to "Athletics" in 1981, but retained the nickname "A's" for marketing purposes. At first, the word "Athletics" was restored only to the club's logo, underneath the much larger stylized-"A" that had come to represent the team since the early days. By 1987, however, the word returned, in script lettering, to the front of the team's jerseys.
Prior to the mid-2010s, the A's had a long-standing tradition of wearing white cleats team-wide (in line with the standard MLB practice that required all uniformed team members to wear a base cleat color), which dates back to the Finley ownership. Since the mid-2010s, however, MLB has gradually relaxed its shoe color rules, and several A's players began wearing cleats in non-white colors, most notably Jed Lowrie's green cleats. Ballpark
The Oakland Alameda Coliseum—originally known as the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum, and later named as Network Associates, McAfee, Overstock.com/O.co and RingCentral Coliseum—was built as a multi-purpose facility. Louisiana Superdome officials pursued negotiations with Athletics officials during the 1978–79 baseball offseason about moving the Athletics to the Superdome in New Orleans. The Athletics were unable to break their lease at the Coliseum, and remained in Oakland.
After the Oakland Raiders football team moved to Los Angeles in 1982, many improvements were made to what was suddenly a baseball-only facility. The 1994 movie Angels in the Outfield was filmed in part at the Coliseum, filling in for Anaheim Stadium.
The Coliseum as seen in its original open grandstand configuration before being enclosed. Then, in 1995, a deal was struck whereby the Raiders would move back to Oakland for the 1995 season. The agreement called for the expansion of the Coliseum to 63,026 seats. The bucolic view of the Oakland foothills that baseball spectators enjoyed was replaced with a jarring view of an outfield grandstand contemptuously referred to as "Mount Davis" after Raiders' owner Al Davis. Because construction was not finished by the start of the 1996 season, the Athletics were forced to play their first six-game homestand at 9,300-seat Cashman Field in Las Vegas.
Although official capacity was stated to be 43,662 for baseball, seats were sometimes sold in Mount Davis as well, pushing "real" capacity to the area of 60,000. The ready availability of tickets on game day made season tickets a tough sell, while crowds as high as 30,000 often seemed sparse in such a venue. On December 21, 2005, the Athletics announced that seats in the Coliseum's third deck would not be sold for the 2006 season, but would instead be covered with a tarp, and that tickets would no longer be sold in Mount Davis under any circumstances. That effectively reduced capacity to 34,077, making the Coliseum the smallest stadium in Major League Baseball. Beginning in 2008, sections 316–318 were the only open third-deck sections for A's games, which brought the total capacity to 35,067 until 2017 when new team president Dave Kaval took the tarps off of the upper deck, increasing capacity to 47,170. The Athletics were the last remaining MLB team to share a stadium with an NFL team on a full-time basis, a situation that ended at the end of 2019 when the Raiders relocated to Las Vegasin 2020 making the Coliseum a baseball-only facility once again.
The Athletics' Spring training facility is Hohokam Stadium, located in Mesa, Arizona. From 1982 to 2014, their spring training facility was Phoenix Municipal Stadium, located in Phoenix, Arizona. Previous spring-training sites since they moved to Oakland in 1968 were Yuma and Mesa, Arizona, as well as Las Vegas, Nevada, all in the 1970s.
Improvements to the Coliseum
In his time as president, Dave Kaval has enhanced the fan experience by making upgrades to the Oakland Coliseum, including the addition of a number of club and premium seating areas, renovating Shibe Park Tavern, and introducing three new fan areas: Championship Plaza, The Treehouse and a kids' zone.
In 2017, the team created this new outdoor plaza in the space between the Coliseum and Oracle Arena. The grassy area is open to all ticketed fans, and it features food trucks, seating and games like corn hole for every A's home game.
The TreehouseEdit The A's introduced The Treehouse at the start of the 2018 season. The 10,000-square-foot area is open to all fans and features two full-service bars, standing-room and lounge seating, numerous televisions and pre- and postgame entertainment.
A’s Stomping Ground
The A's Stomping Ground transformed part of the Eastside Club and the area near the right-field flag poles into a fun and interactive space for kids and families. The inside section features a stage and video wall for interactive events, a digital experience that lets youngsters race their favorite A's players, replica A's dugouts, a simulated hitting and pitching machine, foosball, and a photo booth. The outside area includes play areas, a grassy seating area, drink rails for parents, and picnic tables. Later this season, the A's will add a miniature baseball field and spiderweb play area.
The A's added three new premium spaces, including The Terrace, Lounge Seats, and the Coppola Theater Boxes, to the Coliseum for the 2019 season. The new premium seating options offer fans a high-end game day experience with luxury amenities. The team also added two new group spaces - the Budweiser Hero Deck and Golden Road Landing - to the Coliseum.
Dave Kaval, the president of the team, has innovated the fan experience by removing the tarps on the upper deck, introducing a modern version of the beloved mechanical Harvey the Rabbit to deliver the first pitch ball, and naming the playing surface at the Coliseum "Rickey Henderson Field." The Club hosted the first free game in MLB history for 46,028 fans on April 17, 2018, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the A's first game in Oakland. On July 21, 2018, the A's set a Coliseum record for the largest attendance with a crowd of 56,310 when the team played host to the San Francisco Giants.
Since the mid-2000s, the A's have been in talks with Oakland and other Northern California cities about building a new baseball-only stadium. The team has said it wants to remain in Oakland. On November 28, 2018, the Athletics announced that the team had chosen to build its new 34,000-seat ballpark at the Howard Terminal site at the Port of Oakland. In 2018 the team announced its intent to purchase the Coliseum site and renovate it into a tech and housing hub, preserving Oakland Arena and reducing the Coliseum to a low-rise sports park as San Francisco did with Kezar Stadium.
After the city of Oakland failed to make any progress toward a stadium, the A's began contemplating a move to the Warm Springs district of suburban Fremont. Fremont is about 25 miles south of Oakland; many nearby residents are already a part of the current Athletics fanbase.
On November 7, 2006, many media sources announced the Athletics would be leaving Oakland as early as 2010 for a new stadium in Fremont, confirmed the next day by the Fremont City Council. The plan was strongly supported by Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman. The team would have played in what was planned to be called Cisco Field, a 32,000-seat, baseball-only facility. The proposed ballpark would have been part of a larger "ballpark village" which would have included retail and residential development. On February 24, 2009, however, Lew Wolff released an open letter regarding the end of his efforts to relocate the A's to Fremont, citing "real and threatened" delays to the project. The project faced opposition from some in the community who thought the relocation of the A's to Fremont would increase traffic problems in the city and decrease property values near the ballpark site.
In 2009, the City of San Jose attempted to open negotiations with the team regarding a move to the city. Although parcels of land south of Diridon Station would be acquired by the city as a stadium site, the San Francisco Giants' claim on Santa Clara County as part of their home territory would have to be settled before any agreement could be made.
By 2010, San Jose was "aggressively wooing" A's owner Lew Wolff. Wolff referred to San Jose as the team's "best option", but Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said he would wait on a report on whether the team could move to the area because of the Giants conflict. In September 2010, 75 Silicon Valley CEOs drafted and signed a letter to Bud Selig urging a timely approval of the move to San Jose. In May 2011, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed sent a letter to Bud Selig asking the commissioner for a timetable of when he might decide whether the A's can pursue this new ballpark, but Selig did not respond.
Selig addressed the San Jose issue via an online town hall forum held in July 2011, saying, "Well, the latest is, I have a small committee who has really assessed that whole situation, Oakland, San Francisco, and it is complex. You talk about complex situations; they have done a terrific job. I know there are some people who think it's taken too long and I understand that. I'm willing to accept that. But you make decisions like this; I've always said, you'd better be careful. Better to get it done right than to get it done fast. But we'll make a decision that's based on logic and reason at the proper time."
On June 18, 2013, the City of San Jose filed suit against Selig, seeking the court's ruling that Major League Baseball may not prevent the Oakland A's from moving to San Jose.Wolff criticized the lawsuit, stating he did not believe business disputes should be settled through legal action.
Most of the city's claims were dismissed in October 2013, but a U.S. District Judge ruled that San Jose could move forward with its count that MLB illegally interfered with an option agreement between the city and the A's for land. On January 15, 2015, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the claims were barred by baseball's antitrust exemption, established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1922 and upheld in 1953 and 1972. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo commented that the city would seek a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. On October 5, 2015, the United States Supreme Court rejected San Jose's bid on the Athletics.
A 2017 plan would have placed a new 35,000 seat A's stadium near Laney College and the Eastlake neighborhood on the current site of the Peralta Community College District's administration buildings. The plan was announced by team president Dave Kaval in September 2017. However, just three months later, college officials abruptly ended the negotiations.