The Oakland Athletics got their start in Philadelphia in 1901 as a charter member of the American League. In the years since, the Athletics have provided some of the best moments in baseball history, many great teams and became the first club to move completely into data analytics.
Other, earlier versions of the Athletics team played baseball in Philadelphia as far back as the 1860s. A woodcut engraving from Harper’s Weekly shows the “A’ symbol still worn by the team has been around since at least 1866. The team started playing professionally in 1875. But the current team started with the American League in 1901 under manager and part-owner Connie Mack.
Mack, a former catcher, managed the Athletics for 50 years, by far the longest serving manager in baseball history. The team moved to Kansas City for the 1955 through 1967 seasons and have played in Oakland since 1968. The following are five of the best moments from Oakland Athletics baseball (including their time in Philadelphia).
It’s worth noting that none of the following happened in Kansas City, a period for the A’s that is notable for all the wrong reasons. The highest the team finished during their time in Missouri was 6th place, in the very first year (1955). While in Kansas City, the team finished last five times, next-to-last five times, and never finished a season over 500.
First World Series Win (1910)
Mack quickly built the Philadelphia Athletics into one of the American League’s best teams, The A’s went to the World Series in 1905, the team’s fifth year of existence. In that series, they lost to the New York Giants. However, they returned and achieved victory in 1910, this time against the Chicago Cubs. The Athletics won the first three games of the series and Game 5, while the Cubs won Game 4. Pitcher Jack Coombs led the A’s to victory, becoming the third pitcher to win three World Series games without a loss (despite some erratic pitching in Game 2). Each of the A’s victories were three runs or more, including a whopping 12-5 win in Game 3.
The A’s went on to win the series in 1910, 1911 and 1913. The Mack-led Athletics also won back-to-back World Series in 1929 and 1930.
Three World Series Wins in a Row
In 1972, the Oakland A’s were the underdogs in the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, as they had lost their star player, Reggie Jackson, due to injury. The series went seven games, and the A’s achieved an unexpected victory, their first since 1930.
They did it again in 1973, this time against the New York Mets. In this series, pitcher Darold Knowles became the first in MLB history to appear in all seven games of a seven-game World Series. This has only been done one time since, by the Dodgers’ Brandon Morrow in 2017.
And in 1974, the A’s beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4 games to one for the club’s third consecutive World Series win. The last three games, played on weekdays, were the first World Series games aired on prime-time television at night. This has remained the tradition ever since.
The Battle of the Bay
In 1989, the World Series pitted the A’s against their neighbors from across the bay, the San Francisco Giants. The A’s ultimately swept the Giants 4-0. What makes this series particularly memorable was the incredibly severe Loma Prieta earthquake (magnitude 7.1) that struck the Bay Area roughly half an hour before the start of Game 3. Pre-game broadcasts had already begun, meaning the whole country bore witness to the earthquake on live television. The World Series may have saved a lot of lives, as, at the time it struck (5:04 PM on a weeknight), most people would normally be driving home from work, and would have been killed on the collapsed freeways. However, due to the game, thousands of people on both sides of the bay had either left work early to watch it, or were staying late for watch parties with their co-workers.
The A’s 2002 season is one of the most famous in franchise history. The season started off on a rough note, with the team having lost many of their key players. They had a limited budget to replace them. In the early days of the season, their performance was hardly spectacular. However, the A’s slowly built up steam over the course of the season, culminating with their famous 20-game win streak in August and September. Though the A’s ultimately ended up losing in the division series against the Minnesota Twins, their famous streak lives on. The 2002 A’s were the subject of Michael Lewis’s 2003 book, “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” and the film adaptation in 2011 starring Brad Pitt.
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Dallas Braden’s Perfect Game
While an individual accomplishment rather than a team one, the story of pitcher Dallas Braden’s perfect game is a sweet one. The day was May 9th, 2010 – Mother’s Day – and Braden’s grandmother watched from the stands. She had raised him after the death of his mother when Braden was in high school. After his perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Braden asked the security guards to let her onto the field, where the two shared an emotional embrace caught on camera.