On How I Became a Fan: The Oakland Athletics

A's logo1988 is the first year I remember liking baseball.  That summer I attended Vacation Bible School at our church and got some baseball cards for reciting a Bible verse.  I was hooked for life, not only to cards, but also to the game they represented.  My family and I lived in Santa Rosa, CA, about an hour north of Oakland, which was where the A’s were located.  I’m not sure why I liked them so much immediately, since my Dad was a Dodgers fan (more on that in a future post), but I was smitten.  I am sure that the fact that the A’s were a wrecking crew back then, destroying opponents pitchers as the Bash Brothers (the now disgraced Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire) and foiling opposing pitching with Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, and of course, Dennis Eckersley.  It was a great time to be a fan because the team was great, winning 3 straight American league championships and winning the World Series in 1989.  They were marketed all over our area and I remember trying to convince my Mom to buy Mother’s Cookies because they had A’s baseball cards in them (I was rarely successful, but I got a few…).  As the summer of 1988 wore on I became a bigger and bigger fan.  I got an A’s hat that rarely left my head and began clipping pictures out of the newspaper of my favorite players.  I remember approaching the playoffs of that year with great excitement, as not only had my team made it, but my father’s team was in as well.  Games started late and ended later for a 7 year-old in school, so I had to read he newspaper each morning to see the results.  But after the A’s swept the Red Sox in the ALCS I was sure they would stomp the Dodgers in the World Series.  Indeed, I was dead wrong.  Kirk Gibson broke my heart with his limping home-run trot and the might A’s were vanquished in 5 games, their only win powered by a Mark McGwire homerun.  I remember crying and being mad at my father because his team won and not mine, but in that season a lifelong fan was born…

The next year was filled with anticipation as the A’s brought back essentially the same team and ran roughshod over the American League.  Except for one thing…they made a mid-season trade to acquire Rickey Henderson, who immediately became my favorite player.  Rickey was fast and powerful and smooth and brash and he captured my attention like few things ever have.  Many an afternoon was spent in my backyard stealing pretend bases and hitting homeruns like my hero.  Our family attended a game later that summer and while the A’s were dominated by Randy Johnson, Rickey stole 5 bases and a little 8 year-old boy way up in the upper deck could not have been happier.  That summer moved into fall and the A’s met their crosstown rivals, the Giants, in the World Series.  I was a rabid fan at this point and wanted to help the cause of my team any way I could, so I decided plastering my house with signs exhorting the A’s and denegrating the Giants would be a good idea.  My parents, always ones to encourage their children’s passions, let me.  Markers and construction paper were secured and I began transforming our house into an A’s fortress.  Unfortunately I do not think that there are any pictures, but I remember putting a huge GOOOOOO A’S sign on the garage.  There were about 5 more signs and a few years ago I asked my Dad if he remembered what any of them said.  He laughed and told me that the one I placed on the mailbox said “Will Clark is mud” (Clark was the best Giants player and mud was the worst insult I could think of as an 8 year-old…).  The A’s dominated the forst to games and then the 3rd game was delayed 10 days beacuse of an earthquake.  I was actually coming inside to watch the start of the game when the earthquake hit and met my family running out of the house in the front yard.  The A’s went on to win the Series (powered of course by my signs…) and that still remains one of my happiest sports moments.

This has gotten exponentially longer than I thought it would, so check back later when I post about how the A’s moved on about the same time that I did and how I also share what has to be the coolest thing that could ever have happened to a 12 year-old A’s fan.


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