TBtB: Oakland A’s

We started this exercise in the Bay Area, and we’re going to come full circle and end here with the American League’s franchise in Northern California.

If Billy Beane and co. have their way, we’ll be coming up with a name for a new park instead of the coliseum, perhaps the daytime-baseball-only park the club introduced a few weeks back. The A’s have been engaged in this dance for a long time, though this one seems like it might have a bit more chance of becoming reality than previous schemes.

Getting back to the park at hand, the coliseum is the last of the dual-occupancy stadia in the big leagues, earning that non-distinction when the Argonauts fled Rogers Centre for actual greener pastures. But their A’s won’t have to share for much longer. Their perpetually ungrateful co-tenants will soon pack up their stinky things and hightail it to Vegas, though their presence will remain with the hideous Mount Davis beyond the outfield fences.

The coliseum is now the fifth-oldest park in the country, directly trailing fellow California entries Chavez Ravine and Autry Field. That’s not an accident. For all of its reputation for profligate government spending, the Golden State and its municipalities have been better at holding the line on corporate giveaways for sports owners than most other places in these here United States.

As with many of these places, I have no idea what a good selection for a new name would be, though you couldn’t go wrong if it served as an ode to near-native son Rickey*, who flew round the paths as the greatest of A’s.

But as this is our last shot, let’s get a good one for the boys in green.

*In an announcement that previously evaded my notice, the club has already named the playing surface Rickey Henderson Field. I presume that covers all but the mound, which surely is named for the Prince of the 209.

Ballpark History

Built:  1966

Capacity:  47,170

Name:  Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum 1968-1998, 2016-present. Also known as Network Associates Coliseum (1998-2004); McAfee Coliseum (2004-2008); Overstock Coliseum (2011), and the dreadful O.co Coliseum (2011-2016).

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: None, though the club previously spent time in Philadelphia and K.C.

Distinctive Features:  From a pitcher’s point of view, all that beautiful foul territory; the aforementioned Mount Davis, the view-destroying seats added to lure the Raiders back from Los Angeles; the tarps; any presence of the elephant balancing on a baseball, the sport’s best logo.

Ballpark Highlights:

In 1968, Catfish Hunter, a first-ballot choice in the Nickname Hall of Fame but a questionable selection in the Cooperstown version, threw the American League’s first perfect game in 46 years in a 4-0 win over the Twins. He also went 3-4 with 3 ribbies, including the game-winner, for the recently relocated Athletics.

In 1973, Darold Knowles closed out a 5-2 win over the New York Mets in Game 7 of the World Series, the second of three straight titles for the Charley O A’s. Knowles pitched in all seven games of the Fall Classic, the first step in the slog toward full bullpenathon playoff contests.

In Game 1 of the 1989 World Series, the A’s scored three times in the bottom of the second inning, ending all the on-field drama for the remainder of the thoroughly one-sided Bay Series (the series-halting earthquake provided more than enough intrigue, however).

In 1991, Rickey Henderson stole his 939th career base, officially sanctioning his status as the Greatest of All-Time.

After taking the first two games in New York, the A’s dropped the final three contests of the ALDS, a feat they’d repeat two years later in the damn crapshoot. The 2001 loss was punctuated by the Game 3 setback in the first potential closeout contest when a strangely positioned Derek Jeter managed a backhand flip to nab the non-sliding Jeremy Giambi at the plate in a 1-0 defeat here.

In 2002, pinch-hitter (and newly first-base fluent) Scott Hatteberg hit a pinch-homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the home team an AL-record 20th-straight victory.

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