Oakland Athletics

Wed, 05 Nov 2008 21:08

The history of the Oakland Athletics

Information about the MLB team Oakland Athletics.

The Oakland Athletics is one of the first teams to join the American League although they were known back then as part of Philadelphia. Their name was acquired with the popular use of the Athletics’ terminology during the 1800s. In 1901, the Philadelphia Athletics joined the American League together with seven other teams. Nicknamed the A’s, the team breezed through the league, winning in the American League six times within the span of 1902 to 1914. They also won the World Series in 1910, 1911, and 1913. Many teams envied the A’s roster consisting of John McInnis, Eddie Collins, Eddie Plank, Charles Bender, Jack Barry, Rube Wadell, and Frank “Home Run” Baker.

The Oakland Athletics: The early years

The A’s began to experience problems starting from the 1914 World Series. Favored to win the title yet again, their bid for glory was foiled by the Boston Braves. After the defeat, team manager Connie Mack decided to trade the star players. Some were even released from their contracts while others were sold to other teams. During this time, the Federal League was created to offer a new set of teams for the baseball fans. The Federal League got many players from the American League and some stars such as Charles Bender eventually decided to join.

The A’s were losing most of the time and they always found themselves in last place. Mack was not deterred by this situation and continually acquired good players that would help the A’s get back on track. The team became threats once again by placing second to the New York Yankees in 1927 and 1928. From 1929 to 1931, the A’s were constant title holders in the American League. They were also crowned the World Series Champions in 1929 and 1930. However, during these years, the United States was suffering from the Great Depression. Thus, the team was losing revenue even if they were winning.

The team went downhill over the next years and would not become contenders until the year 1947. The A’s would battle it out for the spots during 1948 and 1949 but they would bow out again in 1950. The team was meant to leave Philadelphia since they were no longer the ball club that the fans cheered. The A’s had good players such as Gus Zernial, Bobby Shantz and Ferris Fain. Yet, their chemistry was not enough to keep the team afloat. Many business people wanted to buy the Philadelphia Athletics but the team owners decided to sell the club to a person who wanted to move the team somewhere else.

In 1955, the A’s officially became the team from Kansas City. The fans loved their Kansas City Athletics so much that they held a then-record for attendance by reaching more than 1.3 million people watching in the Municipal Stadium. However, the team owners were looking forward to getting revenue and not in winning championships. The A’s were constantly trading with the Yankees to get veteran, recognizable players in exchange for their youthful, developing stars. Thus, the A’s never contended much during their stay in Kansas City and the fans soon got tired from the team’s constant losing.

By 1960, another man wanted a shot at ownership of the Athletics. He was Charles Finley, a businessman who wanted a lot from the club. He saw the talent of the A’s roster but he saw them more as a chance to gain profit. He made changes and promises to the Kansas City fans. He also created various gimmicks to improve fan attendance. Yet, Finley was having a hard time getting good players for the team and the A’s remained at the bottom group of the league. With the introduction of the draft process in the American League, Finley was able to secure the top spot in the very first league draft, ultimately landing Rick Monday.

Finley was not keen on making the Athletics the official team of Kansas City. He was already working on deals to move the team to get cash incentives. In 1968, the A’s were sent to Oakland, where they remain up to the present day. The Oakland Athletics were trying to forget their losing ways by starting fresh in a new city. The team was now managed by Bob Kennedy, who wanted to make the A’s into contenders just like during the early part of the century. The A’s would eventually reach the postseason in 1971, forty years after their last appearance. However, they were defeated by the Baltimore Orioles in that series.

The A’s did not let this outcome break their spirits. Instead, it fueled their desire to get better and, in 1972, they were able to reach the World Series to face the Cincinnati Reds. They won the championship and successfully defended it for two more years. Their roster was composed of Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter, Sal Bando, Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers, and Bert Campaneris. Yet, the team was having management problems with owner Charles Finley which escalated into many notable flare-ups. The A’s would soon tire of Finley’s bickering that the team slowly dismantled in years to come.

Due to the loss of many star players, the A’s saw themselves again at the bottom of the standings. This was bad for business as more and more fans refused to watch the game of the Athletics. In 1980, Finley got Billy Martin to handle team management. Surprisingly, the team supported Martin’s plan for change. The A’s roster consisted of Mike Norris, Rickey Henderson, Dwayne Murphy and Tony Armas. They finished in second place for that year. Finley was already losing a lot of money so he sold the A’s to Walter A. Haas, Jr., then president of Levi Strauss & Co.

Fan attendance increased during Haas’ tenure. There were times when the fans ranged around the 1.9 million mark. Their home games were supported by their loyal customers. The team also acquired good talents such as Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Walt Weiss. All three of these players would be named American League Rookie of the Year. In 1989, the A’s would win the World Series against the San Francisco Giants. This would be the last time that the A’s won a World Series championship. Yet, the team never stopped searching for new talents that would be part of their roster.

The Oakland Athletics: Recent history

Walter Haas Jr. died in 1995 and the A’s were sold once again to another owner. This time, they were acquired by Steve Schott, a real estate developer in the San Francisco Bay area. He also had David Etheredge and Ken Hofmann as partners. The first plan of action for the new owners was to cut the payroll. Thus, they traded and sold most of their star players, reminiscent of the early days of the Athletics. Mark McGwire was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he made a big impression by setting a new record for home runs in the major league. Although short on impact players, the A’s were always in the playoff picture. The A’s are still looking to add another championship to their rich history. They have been getting good players ever since 2005. Only time would tell when the A’s get back to full championship form.