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Sunday, August 22, 2010
Oakland Athletics Uniform and Team History
Please click on the evolution of the Athletics uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.
The Oakland A’s began life in Philadelphia in 1901, which was the first year of the brand new American League. The team was called the Athletics and they were under the management of Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy - Connie Mack. The story of the A’s cannot be told without dwelling for a moment on the legend of the remarkable Connie Mack, who would retain his position as team manager from 1901 until his retirement at the age of 87 in 1950. 50 years as manager of the same team – it boggles the mind!!! And for every game the highly respected Connie Mack wore a suit and tie.
This is a very classic road uniform. The “A” represents Athletics or A’s. The jersey features a wonderful collar, similar to a dress shirt. Note also that even though the jersey has four buttons down the front, this is a “pullover” style jersey that had to be pulled over the head – this was common in jerseys throughout baseball at this time. We believe the first major league team to wear a completely buttoned front jersey (ie one that didn’t have to be pulled over the head) was the 1909 Phillies, followed by the 1911 Cubs. The pullover style jersey finally disappeared after the 1939 season (the A’s were the last team to wear it), but of course pullovers resurfaced in a big way with the double knit era of the 70’s and 80’s.
Also, notice that the pants have a center belt loop, which was designed so that the belt buckle would be worn on the side, not in the front. Players of this era usually wore the belt buckle to one side to prevent injury when sliding into a base.
The 1905 A’s finished with a record of 92-56, good for first in the 8 team American League and good enough to send them to only the second World Series ever played. The first World Series was played in 1903, a series that saw the upstart AL Red Sox beat the National League’s Pittsburgh Pirates. When the 1904 season ended, John McGraw of the NL’s NY Giants refused to play the AL Champion Red Sox. But by 1905 it was agreed that the winners of each league should play each other in the World Series, thus in 1905 it was the Giants vs the A’s.
The best-of-seven series was dominated by pitching, as every game was won by a shutout. In game 1 the Giants beat the A’s 3-0 in Philly, and in game 2 the A’s returned the favor by beating the Giants 3-0. Game 3 was also in Philly, and the Giants clobbered the A’s 9-0. The Series shifted back to NY, and the Giants finished the A’s off by 1-0 and 2-0 counts to win the Series 4-1. The A’s struggled mightily at the plate, hitting just .161, and even more remarkable was the fact that the Giants’ pitching staff combined for a perfect 0.00 ERA over the 5 games!!!
Note: This was an era when the pitchers ruled the game. The A’s own Harry Davis hit 8 home runs all season and won the AL’s home run crown. His 8 dingers almost matched the entire season output for the 2nd place White Sox who hit just 11 homers. In fact, Davis won the AL’s home run crown four straight years – in 1904 he hit 10; in 1905 he hit 8; in 1906 he ballooned to 12; and in 1907 he hit 8.
The major difference between this home uniform and the 1905 uniform is the color of the “A”, which is now navy blue, not red. Other than that, the jersey is still a pullover style jersey with a full collar, and the belt loops are designed so that the belt buckle would normally be worn off to one side.
The A’s moved into a new home, Shibe Park in 1909, and would stay there until 1954 when the team moved to Kansas City. After finishing the 1909 season with a 95-58 record, 3 ½ games back of the Tigers, the 1910 A’s got the job done with a 102-48 record – 14 ½ games ahead of the second place Yankees (then known as the Highlanders).
Thus the 1910 A’s brought the World Series to Shibe Park in the ballpark’s second season. Philadelphia faced the Chicago Cubs in the best-of-seven World Series. Led by Eddie Collins, Frank Baker and Danny Murphy, the Athletics hammered the Cubs pitching – the A’s batted .316, a Series record that held until 1960. The A’s scored an average of 7 runs a game, but perhaps even more amazing is the fact that they used only 2 pitchers in the entire Series. Jack Coombs started games one, three and five, winning them by 9-3, 12-5 and 7-2 scores. “Chief” Bender started the other 2 games, winning game two 4-1 (losing the shutout in the 9th) and losing game four 4-3 in the 10th. The A’s won the 1910 World Series 4 games to 1, and then went on to win it all again both in 1911 and 1913.
A word about the pinstripes as seen in this 1914 home uniform. The A’s wore pinstripes on their road uniforms from 1909 to 1912. They took a pinstripe sabbatical in 1913, then reintroduced them in 1914, but this time on their uniform, as pictured here. It’s interesting to note that they wore pinstripes on both their home and away uniforms in 1915 and 1916, an unusual uniform decision. Beginning in 1917 the pinstripes disappeared until 1920, when they reappeared on the home uniform. 1920’s home uniform was the last time the A’s would ever wear pinstripes.
As best we can tell, the first instance of pinstriped uniforms was in 1907. The Boston Braves road uniform were made from a gray flannel with a fine green pinstripe. Later that same year the Cubs had a new gray uniform with fine pin striping made for the World Series - they wore it for the World Series opener in Chicago and were later reprimanded by the league for not wearing a white uniform at home. The Yankees, most often associated with pinstripe uniforms, first wore a pinstriped uniform for one year at home in 1912 (the New York Times wrote about their 1912 home opener “The Yankees presented a natty appearance in their new uniforms of white with black pin stripes”), then every year from 1915 to the present.
After going 99-53 and winning the American League for the 4th time in 5 years, the 1914 A’s fell victim to “The Miracle Braves” in what has been called the greatest upset in World Series history. The Braves were called “The Miracle Braves” because they came from last place mid season to win the NL pennant by a stunning 10.5 games over the 2nd place Giants. And although the Braves’ roster was stocked with “rejects”, they kept right on rolling over the heavily favored A’s in 4 straight games – this in spite of the fact that Philly featured the “$100,000 Infield” of 1B Stuffy McInnis, 2B Eddie Collins, SS Jack Barry and 3B Frank “Home Run” Baker.
And after having had such a remarkable run (4 pennants in 5 years and 3 World Series Championships (1910, 1911, 1913), the A’s lost ¾’s of the $100,000 infield and crashed back to earth in 1915 with a frightening 43-109 record.
From 1920 to 1927 the A’s wore an elephant symbol on the front of their home jersey instead of the traditional “A” or “Athletics”. This was the only period that the A’s wore the elephant symbol on the front of their jersey, although the elephant has remained part of the A’s logo repertoire right to the present day.
And the origin of the elephant? In 1902 the New York Giants’ Manager John McGraw dismissed the A's with contempt, calling them "The White Elephants". Connie Mack, the A’s manager, liked the idea and adopted the white elephant as the team’s logo. In 1905 when the two teams met in the World Series, Mack presented McGraw with a white elephant toy, which he accepted in good nature, and the A’s have been associated with elephants ever since – right up to the present day.
Note also that this jersey is a full button front, no longer the pullover style jersey the A’s had previously worn. Note also the fact that by 1927 the lapel style collar had disappeared.
After some pretty lean years in the late teens and early 20’s, the A’s were on an upswing. They finished the 1927 season in 2nd place with a 91-63 record, although still a full 19 games behind the 110-44 New York Yankees, whose .714 mark represents the best winning percentage ever complied by a Major League team. In fact, a word on the 1927 Yankees, who were rated the best baseball team ever in “Best and Worst Baseball Teams of All Time”, written by sports statistician Harry Hollingsworth. The book, published in 1994, examined statistics and compared the findings of six other books. The 1927 Yanks had Babe Ruth, who hit 60 homers. The 1927 Yankees had four pitchers with 18 wins or more: Waite Hoyt 22-7, Wilcey Moore 19-7, Herb Pennock 19-8 and Urban Shocker 18-6. The 1927 Yankees had four players drive in 100 runs or more: Lou Gehrig 175, Ruth 164, Bob Meusel 103 and Tony Lazzeri 102. The 1927 Yankees had five .300 hitters: Gehrig .373, Ruth .356, Earle Combs .356, Meusel .337 and Lazzeri .309. And Hall of Famers? The 1927 Yanks had six: Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri, Combs, Hoyt and Pennock.
No wonder the A’s finished 2nd.
The Philadelphia A’s went back to their traditional capital “A” on the jersey for both their home and away uniforms beginning in the 1928 season, as we see on this home uniform. Note also that the center belt loop still remains - this was designed so that the belt buckle would be worn on the side, not in the front. Players in the first part of the 1900’s usually wore their belt buckle to one side to prevent injury when sliding into a base.
But let’s talk about the 1929 A’s. After finishing 2.5 games back of the Yankees in 1928, the 1929 A’s finished 104-46 and won the American League pennant for the first time since 1914.
In fact, the A’s of the late 20’s and early 30’s are considered to be one of the best ball teams of all time – they had to be to beat the Yankees of that era! The 1929-31 A’s are one of only 4 teams in baseball history to win 100 games three years in a row. In 1929 they went 104-46; in 1930 they went 102-55; and in 1931 they went 107-45. The three other teams to win 100 games three years running were the 1942-44 Cardinals, the 1969-71 Orioles and the 1997-99 Braves.
In fact, Sports Illustrated recently rated the 1929-31 A’s as perhaps the best baseball team ever (can anyone out there tell me what issue of SI said this – it was some time 1998-2001 – please mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org). And sport statistician Harry Hollingsworth, who wrote “Best and Worst Baseball Teams of All Time” in 1994, examined statistics and compared the findings of six other books, and rated the 1929 A’s as the third best baseball team of all time, behind only the previously mentioned 1927 Yankees and the 1939 Yankees. Hollingsworth had the ’29 A’s followed by the 1906 Chicago Cubs; the 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates; the 1936 Yankees; the 1944 St. Louis Cardinals; the 1931 Philadelphia A's and the 1943 Cards.
These A’s teams were led by the likes of hitters Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie “Double X” Foxx, Al Simmons and Bing Miller, and pitchers Lefty Grove, George “Moose” Earnshaw and Rube Walberg.
Getting back to the 1929 season, the A’s met the 98-54 Chicago Cubs in the 1929 World Series. The A’s won games 1 & 2 in Chicago by 3-1 and 9-3 counts, then lost game three back home by a 3-1 score despite outhitting the Cubs 9-6. Then in game 4, the A’s were down 8-0 going into the bottom of the 7th and were in danger of seeing the series tied. Three outs later the A’s led the game 10 to 8. And two days later, down 2-0 going into the bottom of the 9th, the A’s rallied with 3 to take the Series 4 games to 1.
Pictured here is a road jersey, which is virtually identical to the home jersey shown in the 1929 picture. About the only difference is that on the road the A’s wore a slightly darker jersey.
As mentioned earlier, the A’s of the late 20’s and early 30’s are considered to be one of the best ball teams of all time - the 1929-31 A’s are one of only 4 teams in baseball history to win 100 games three years in a row. In 1929 they went 104-46; in 1930 they went 102-55; and in 1931 they went 107-45. The three other teams to win 100 games three years running were the 1942-44 Cardinals, the 1969-71 Orioles and the 1997-99 Braves.
Thus for the second year in a row the A’s won the American League Pennant. This time they face the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930 World Series. This time out it’s the A’s pitchers who carry the day, holding the Cards to a collective .200 batting average while racking up a 1.73 team ERA. A’s pitchers Lefty Grove and George Earnshaw each won 2 games, and in the 3 games Earnshaw pitched, he gave up only 13 hits and struck out 19. The A’s went on to win their second straight Championship 4 games to 2.
And a brief word about the 1931 A’s, who won their 3rd straight pennant with a team record 107-45 mark. The 1931 Series pitted the A’s against the Cards for the second straight year. It came down to a dramatic game 7, played in St. Louis, but this tijme the Cards came out on top by a 4-2 score, thus denying the A’s their 3rd straight Championship and an even more certain place in baseball history.
The A’s went through a lot of lean years after their earlier success of the early teens and late 20’s/early 30’s. In fact, for the last 19 years (1932 – 1950) of Connie Mack’s absolutely stunning 50 year tenure as A’s manager (1901 - 1950), they would never again make a post-season appearance.
During the Second World War, the question is raised, should able-bodied athletes of baseball be fighting for their country rather than playing baseball? Baseball Commissioner Landis asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt what to do - here is part of Roosevelt’s reply:
“I honestly feel it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before… Here is another way of looking at it - if 300 teams use 5,000 or 6,000 players, these players are a definite recreational asset to at least 20,000,000 of their fellow citizens - and that in my judgment is thoroughly worthwhile.”
Wartime sleeve patches were worn by all levels of professional baseball teams between 1942 and 1945. A “Health” patch, as seen on this home jersey, was worn during the 1942 season, part of a war-time health and fitness awareness campaign, and from 1943-1945 a “Stars and Stripes” was worn.
As for the ’42 A’s, they finished in the AL basement for the 3rd straight year, this time with a record of 55-99. A lone bright star was the pitching of Phil Marchildon, who went 17-14 before heading off to war.
This home uniform shows a blue “A” with a golden border, a nifty design they wore for this one brief season. The patch on the left sleeve honors the remarkable Connie Mack, who in 1950 was managing the A’s for an absolutely unprecedented 50th season. As far as we know, this may be one of the only times a Major league team has worn a patch honoring a living person – can anyone out there think of another example? If so, please let us know at email@example.com .
The story of the A’s cannot be told without dwelling for a moment on the legend of the remarkable Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy - Connie Mack - who ended up owning the A’s and would retain his position as team manager from 1901 until his retirement at the age of 87 in 1950. 50 years as manager of the same team – it boggles the mind!!! And for every game the highly respected Connie Mack wore a suit and tie. It’s hard to imagine the changes he witnessed, having directed the team from the very first year of the brand new American League in 1901, through two world wars, right up to Mickey Mantle’s 1951 rookie season. Even the A’s home – Shibe Park - was renamed Connie Mack Stadium.
Sadly, perhaps inevitably, in 1954 the Mack family would sell the club to Arnold Johnson, who moved the team to Kansas City in time for the 1955 season. Connie Mack died in February 1956 at the age of 94.
Interestingly, during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s many teams used zippered jerseys instead of the more traditional button front jerseys, while a handful of teams wore them well into the 70’s and even the 80’s. During Connie Mack’s reign the A’s steadfastly resisted zippers, and in fact are one of only three pre-1977 major league teams never to have worn zippers, the others being the Yankees and Reds. The 1937 Cubs were the first team to wear a zippered jersey, and as far we can tell the 1988 Phillies were the last to wear one.
And on the field, after three straight above-500 seasons including a terrific 81-73 finish in 1949, the A’s couldn’t do it for Connie Mack in 1950, and finished the 1950 season in last with a 52-102 mark.
By now the A’s are the Kansas City Athletics – new team owner Arnold Johnson moved the team from Philadelphia to Kansas City prior to the 1955 season. In fact, the 50’s and 60’s saw a lot of “musical cities” in the world of baseball. The St. Louis Browns moved to become the Baltimore Orioles in 1954, the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to become the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1958, the New York Giants became the San Francisco Giants in 1958 and the Milwaukee Braves moved to become the Atlanta Braves in 1966. And after failing to finish any higher than 6th from 1955 – 1967, the Kansas City Athletics move to Oakland in 1968.
The script style “Athletics” seen on this road jersey began in 1954 while the team was still in Philly. This script style replaced the “A” which had been on the A’s jersey continuously since 1928. Note also the “swoosh” underlining the word “Athletics” - this style was introduced to baseball by the 1932 Cubs, and has been worn by many teams since then, right up to the present day.
Note also the patch on the sleeve – it shows an elephant balancing on a baseball holding a bat in its trunk, and the cloth on the elephant’s back reads “A’s”. Note also that there are belt tunnels instead of belt loops on the trousers. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, a belt tunnel is simply a very wide belt loop, typically 4-8 inches in length instead of the more common 1” wide belt loop.
As mentioned earlier, the A’s struggled on the field while in KC, and 1956 was no exception as they finished 52-102, worse than their first year in KC when they finished 63-91. The team’s best seasons in their 13 years in Kansas City were in 1958 when they finished 73-81, and in 1966 when they finished 74-86. Yikes…
The A’s became the second team in baseball to move to a 3rd city when they moved from Kansas City to Oakland prior to the 1968 season after previously having been in Philadelphia from 1901 - 1954. (The Boston-Milwaukee-Atlanta Braves were the first 3 city team.) In fact, the 50’s and 60’s saw a lot of “musical cities” in the world of baseball. In addition to the A’s moves, the St. Louis Browns moved to become the Baltimore Orioles in 1954, the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to become the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1958, the New York Giants became the San Francisco Giants in 1958, and the Milwaukee Braves became the Atlanta Braves in 1966.
This road uniform is quite colorful and stands in stark contrast to the previous 69 years of the franchise. The A’s actually started wearing vests in 1962 while they were still in Kansas City. 1969 was the first year that the Athletics adopted an apostrophe “s” beside the traditional “A”. Note also that there is a patch sewn onto the jersey under the team logo – this patch commemorates the 100th anniversary of professional baseball, and all Major League teams wore the patch in 1969.
Note also the uniform numbers on the front of the A’s jersey, a practice begun by the A’s in 1963. Uniform numbers first made their appearance on the front of a uniform in 1952 - the Brooklyn Dodgers were the first team to wear uniform numbers on the front of their jersey. The Braves followed suit in 1953, and the Reds joined in beginning in 1956. The 1916 Cleveland Indians actually wore a uniform number on their sleeve, but it wasn’t until the ’52 Dodgers that the number made it to the front.
It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do for a team – after never having finished above .500 in the team’s 13 years in Kansas City, the 1968 Oakland A’s finish 82-80, then in 1969 they improve yet again with a 88-74 mark, good for 2nd place in the brand new AL West Division.
Offensively, the A’s were led by 3rd year player Reggie Jackson (47 home runs and 118 RBI) and Sal Bando (31 dingers and 113 RBI), and on the mound by Blue Moon Odom who went 15-6 with a 2.92 ERA.
And the A’s early success in Oakland was but a harbinger of even greater glories just around the corner.
The A’s began the practice of wearing a 3rd uniform as far back as 1966, something that was far ahead of its time. Unlike today when teams routinely wear 3rd and even 4th and 5th uniforms as a means of increasing merchandise revenue, teams used to simply have one uniform for home games and another for road games.
This 1972 jersey is of a double-knit style that most major league teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a pullover style, made of stretchy, synthetic material. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt”’s because the elasticized waistline eliminated the need for a belt. The 1970 Pirates were the first double-knit sans-a-belt team, and the Cards and Astros joined them in 1971. By 1975 two thirds of major league teams had succumbed.
Keen observers might note that in 1972 the A’s only played 155 games instead of the usual 162 – why? On March 30 1972, Marvin Miller, executive director of the Players' Association, completes his canvass of players on the issue of a players’ strike. The vote comes in at 663 in favor of a strike, ten against, and two abstentions. Thus on April 6 1972, for the first time in history, the major-league season fails to open due to a general player strike. The strike, announced April 1, will erase 86 games from the major league schedule. The end of the baseball strike is announced on April 13 with an abbreviated schedule to start two days later. And when the season starts on April 15, Reggie Jackson sports a mustache as the A's top the Twins 4-3 in 11 innings. Jackson is reported to be the first major league player with facial hair since Wally Schang in 1914.
After losing the 1971 American League Championship Series to Baltimore in 3 straight games, the 1972 A’s go 92-63 under 2nd year Manager Dick Williams and head back into the post season for the second year in a row.
In the best-of-five ALCS, the A’s faced the Detroit Tigers. The A’s won game 1 in dramatic fashion as they scored 2 in the bottom of the 11th after the Tigers had scored in the top of the inning, and they cruised to a 5-0 win in game 2 and looked to be on their way to their first World Series since 1931.
But the next 3 games were in Detroit, and the Tigers took games 3 & 4 to force a 5th and deciding Game 5. On the strength of 5 great innings from Blue Moon Odom and 4 strong relief innings from normal starter Vida Blue, the A’s held on for a 2-1 win and a birth in the World Series against the powerful Big Red Machine of Cincinnati.
The A’s had little time to celebrate, and two days after clinching the AL Pennant they opened against the Pete Rose and Johnny Bench led Cincinnati Reds – and without the services of injured Reggie Jackson.
In game one in Cincinnati, the A’s Gene Tenace is the hero, making World Series history by belting two home runs in his first 2 Series at bats, and leading the A’s to a 3 to 2 win. The A’s win game two by a narrow 2-1 margin, and head home up two games to none. Billingham tosses a 3 hit shutout for the Reds as they climb back into the Series in a 2-1 win, but in game four the A’s come back with 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to squeeze out a 3-2 win. Four games, all decided by one run.
Game 5 would be no different, with the Reds scoring a run in the top of the 8th and another in the top of the 9th for a 5-4 win. Now it was back to Cincinnati for game 6 & it need be, game 7.
In the only non one-run game of the Series, the Reds clobber the A’s 8-1 and it’s on to game seven. Who else but Gene Tenace would be the Series hero yet again by driving in 2 RBIs on 2 hits to give the A’s a 3-2 win and their first Championship since 1930. Hitting .348 with 4 home runs and 9 RBI, catching and playing 1st, Gene Tenace was named the World Series MVP.
The only change from the previous years home uniform and this home jersey is the “A”. If you look closely at the left side of the “A” you will see an additional embellishment that was only on the home jersey this year, but was added to all the “A”’s in subsequent years. The embellishment? An extra “serif” on the “A”.
In a season that saw Reggie Jackson named as the American League MVP on the strength of his .293 average, 32 homers and 117 RBI, the A’s once again found themselves on top of the AL West after a 94-68 season.
As was the case in 1971, the Baltimore Orioles provided the opposition. The A’s would go up 2 games to 1, only to lose the game four after taking a 4-0 lead into the top of the 7th inning. After having to play deciding games in both 1972 series, the A’s were up to the challenge and won game 5 at home by a 3-0 margin behind the 5 hit pitching performance of A’s pitcher Catfish Hunter. Thus the Athletics won their second straight Pennant and headed back to the World Series.
This time out the surprising New York Mets were the opponent. The A’s won game one in Oakland 2-1, then lost a wild 12 inning affair 10-7 – at 4 hours and 13 minutes it was then the longest game in World Series history. It was now a best-of-five.
Back to New York, and Oakland won game 3 3-2. Then the Mets came back and mowed the A’s down 6-1. Tied series, and it was now a best of three.
The Mets took game 5 2-0 in New York, and sent the Series back to Oakland. Once again Oakland showed their playoff savvy by winning game 6 3-1, and it was now a best of one affair.
In Game 7, the fourth straight series played by the A’s to go the distance, Reggie Jackson and Bert Campaneris hit home runs with a man on in the bottom of the third, and the A’s held on to beat the Mets 5-2 and win their second straight World Series. Reggie Jackson was also named the World Series MVP with a .310 average, 3 doubles, a triple, a home run, and 6 RBI. On a side note: A’s pitcher Darold Knowles became the first pitcher ever to appear in all 7 games of the Series, pitching 6 1/3 innings, allowing no runs for a 0.00 ERA and 2 saves.
Could it be done again? And could they do it without Manager Dick Williams? Yes, and Yes.
For the fourth year in a row the A’s won the AL West, this time with a 90-72 record, good enough for a 5 game lead over Billy Martin’s Texas Rangers. The Manager was veteran Alvin Dark.
For the 3rd time in 4 years and 2nd time in a row, the A’s faced the Orioles in the ALCS. And in a pleasant change, the A’s did not need a deciding game as they knocked off the O’s 3 games to 1 to take the Pennant for the 3rd year in a row.
And for the 3rd time in a row, the A’s played a different NL Champion – this time they met Walter Alston’s LA Dodgers - it was Alston’s 21st straight year of managing the Dodgers (he would go on for two more years). This marked the Dodgers’ first playoff appearance since 1966.
In a battle of relief pitchers, Rollie Fingers of the A’s and Mike Marshall of the Dodgers went head to head. Fingers was the clear winner appearing in all 4 of Oakland’s victories, earning 1 win and 2 saves. Marshall appeared in all five Dodger games and was credited with only 1 save.
The A’s won game 1 by a 3-2 score, then the Dodgers came back in game two with a 3-2 win. Game 3? Game 3 was in Oakland, and the score was 3-2 in favor of the A’s. Game 4 broke tradition and ended 5-2 for the A’s.
And game 5? Tied at 2 in the 7th, the A’s Joe Rudi hammered one out of the park off Marshall to make it 3 to 2, and that’s the way it ended, giving the A’s the Series 4 games to 1. Rollie Fingers was named the World Series MVP.
This road jersey is of a double-knit style that most major league teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a pullover style, made of stretchy, synthetic material. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt”’s because the elasticized waistline eliminated the need for a belt. The 1970 Pirates were the first double-knit sans-a-belt team, and the Cards and Astros joined them in 1971. By 1975 two thirds of major league teams had succumbed.
PS The A’s almost made it back to the World Series in 1975 – they won the AL West with a 98-64 record and earned the right to face the AL East champion Red Sox. But the Sox ended the A’s remarkable run by taking the best of fice ALCS 3 games to none.
After some lean years in the late 70’s and again in the mid 80’s, the Tony LaRussa led-A’s clawed their way back to respectability, led in large part by the bash brothers – Joes Canseco and Mark McGwire. The team had three straight Rookie of the Year winners in this period - Jose Canseco in ’86, Mark McGwire in ’87, and Walt Weiss in ’88. In 1987 the A’s finished 81-81, and in 1988 they won the AL West with a whopping 104-58 record. They made it all the way to the ’88 World Series before bowing to the Dodgers 4 games to 1.
Then came 1989. The A’s won the AL West with a 99-63 record, largely the result of a terrific starting foursome of Dave Stewart (21-9), Mike Moore (19-11), Bob Welch (17-8) and Storm Davis (19-7). In the ALCS the A’s made short work of the Blue Jays (downing them 4 games to 1 in the now best-of-seven affair). And thus they made it back to the World Series for the 13th time and first time since 1974 – the opponents were their cross town rival San Francisco Giants.
After winning games 1 5-0 and game 2 5-1, the A’s were poised for a 4 game sweep when mother nature intervened. In an almost surreal fashion, game three was never played because the Bay Area was rocked by a mammoth earthquake that fortunately caused only minor damage to Candlestick Stadium.
The Series was then postponed for ten days. When the Series continued, A’s players Dave Henderson, Jose Canseco, Tony Phillips and Carney Lansford tied a Series record of 5 homers in one game (Henderson hit 2) en route to a 13-7 win. The A’s completed the sweep and won their 9th World Series by winning game four 9-6. Dave Stewart (Series MVP) and Mike Moore each won 2 games in the four game sweep, giving the A’s their first World Series since 1974.
The patch on the right sleeve of this home uniform is the World Series “Battle of the Bays” logo, one of the first instances in the modern era where both World Series teams wore a specially made World Series patch. On the left sleeve is the elephant logo we saw last on the 1956 uniform.
After a tremendous 1990 season where they went 103-59, the A’s made it back to the World Series in 1990, making it their 3rd straight appearance in the Fall Classic. But they fell 4 straight to the upstart Reds, and the A’s mini dynasty was over.
This 1994 uniform is a bold change from previous A’s uniforms, and features an all green jersey with a solid green undershirt. The patch on the right sleeve is in honor of the 125th year of professional baseball. The patch has the Major League Baseball logo and “125th Anniversary” on it, and celebrates the Cincinnati Red Stockings 1869 team that was the first openly professional team and went 65-0 in a nationwide barnstorming season. The patch on the left sleeve is an elephant wearing sunglasses, with two crossed bats in his trunk, and a sun in the background. To some this uniform would appear to be a batting practice or spring training look, but the A’s wore this ensemble in a number of regular season games in 1994.
And in this, the year of professional baseball’s 125th Anniversary, there would be no World Series for the first time in 90 years, when a player lockout in August 1994 put an end to the season. Oddly, the 1994 A’s were sitting in 2nd place in the four team AL West with a 51-63 record, but were only 1 game back of the 1st place Texas Rangers. Oh what might have been… What a shame.
The A’s are back!
After an 87-75 season in 1999, the A’s win the AL West in 2000 with a 91-70 record. Staffed with a young, fresh faced and low salaried squad, the A’s go on to face the high-salaried, two-time defending World Series Champion New York Yankees in the 1st round of the playoffs. And in a tremendously exciting playoff, the A’s take the Yankees to the limit before losing in the dying innings of the 5th and deciding game. The Yankees then go on to win the ALCS in easier fashion over the Mariners, and then roll over the Mets in 5 games in the World Series to capture their 3rd World Championship in a row. In all nine playoff series in 1998, 1999 and 2000, the 2000 A’s gave the Yankees their biggest scare.
Notice the team logo on the undershirt collar of this home uniform. This is a trend that started in the late 90’s and has by now been adopted by almost all MLB teams. The patch on the left sleeve celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Athletics, and features the traditional A’s elephant (see below for an explanation of the elephant) as well as “Philadelphia” and “Kansas City” (a homage to the A’s first two home towns).
And the origin of the elephant that the A’s use as their logo? In 1902 the New York Giants’ Manager John McGraw dismissed the A's with contempt, calling them "The White Elephants". Connie Mack, the A’s manager, liked the idea and adopted the white elephant as the team’s logo. In 1905 when the two teams met in the World Series, Mack presented McGraw with a white elephant toy, which he accepted in good nature, and the A’s have been associated with elephants ever since.
Text not yet written but the 2007 A's finished 76-86, good for 3rd in the AL West but not what A's fans have become accustomed to.
Celebrate the A's uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Oakland Athletics and the history of the Oakland A's franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 18 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 18 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.
These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)
If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Oakland Athletics YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=udIxVxRmf1w or go directly to the artwork website www.heritagesportsart.com/Oakland-Athletics-c152/ where you can see and purchase the artwork.
And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at www.heritagesportsart.com (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/user/ssillcox
And please search my blog archive http://heritagejerseys.blogspot.com/ for other blogs on the history of the A's.
This text was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 22, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org !