The History of the Oakland A’s


Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

There are many A’s fans out there, but if you want to impress people by being a hardcore A’s fan then you should probably know the history of this great team. For example, did you know the Athletics were originally from Philadelphia? Here is the history of the Oakland Athletics.

Origins: Philadelphia Athletics

The team was originally started in Philadelphia, to be the American League counterpart of the Philadelphia Phillies. The two leagues were both competing to be the countries Major league, with the National League being the more established one. The Philadelphia A’s were quickly successful, creating a dynasty right away. They won the American League Pennant 6 times within a span of 12 years. They  won the American League Pennant in 1902, 1905, 1910, 1911, 1913, and 1914. Of those, they won the World Series in 1910, 1911, and 1913.

Here’s the fun part though, even when in Philadelphia, the A’s were all about spending low. Many players left the team in 1914 to join a third league that was forming called the Federal League. Connie Mack, the manager at the time, did not want to spend as much money on them as the Federal League was offering, preferring cheap, young talent. Sound Familiar?

They went on to finish in last place every season after that up to 1922. Their second dynasty would start 5 years later in 1927. They came in second to the Yankees in 1927 and 1928, then won two straight World Series in 1929 and 1930, but lost the World Series in 1931. After that  they were solid for a couple of more years until free falling to disappointment once more. They would go on to have a losing record for almost 15 straight years. A combination of poor financial decisions and losing records eventually led to the A’s being bought and moved to Kansas City in 1955.

A Brief Stay: Kansas City Athletics

Early on when they were first in Kansas City, the A’s were owned by Arnold Johnson, who was closely tied to the Yankees. He used the Athletics as a farm team for the Yankees at a major league level. The Yankees using their big money to take the best players the A’s have, doesn’t that sound familiar?

When Johnson passed away however, a man by the name of Charlie O. Finley became the savior of the Athletics. He’s the reason the A’s went from wearing red white and blue to green and gold. He put a lot of time and money into the A’s farm system, and made the A’s an eventual power house. He is also the reason that our beloved A’s are now in Oakland. But for more on Finley, read this. The A’s were not very successful in Kansas City, but it was where the groundwork was laid for the A’s to succeed in Oakland.

Current Home: Oakland Athletics

The A’s came to Oakland back in 1968. They had winning seasons their first 3 years. The next three were the dynasty. We are all familiar with the 3 straight World Series titles from 1972-1974. Or at least you should be. That was the best the Athletics have ever been in their franchise history. The players said that they played so well as a team because they all shared a passionate hate for Finley. The good thing is it worked. This time period was the time when the A’s had Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, and Vida Blue on their team. That’s when the A’s earned the nickname “The Swingin’ A’s”.

The team began to decline after Finley was trading away all of the star players and the few that were left, left in free agency. Attendance was extremely low (sound familiar?), and the team almost moved again. When Finley could no longer afford the team, he attempted to sell the team to someone who would have moved them to Denver. Oakland city intervened and forced Finley to stay based on the lease signed between the team and the city. The A’s stayed in Oakland under new ownership.

The new Haas ownership helped create the modern day A’s we know and love today. They changed the bright colored uniforms, as seen in the picture above, to the more subdued colors we see now. They restored the elephant as the mascot and restored the name “Athletics” after Finley had made them just the “A’s”. They won the World Series in 1989 in the battle of the bay, but lost it in 1988 and 1990. These teams had stars such as Jose Conseco, Rickey Henderson, and Dennis Eckersley.

The Haas ownership ended in 1996. After that, the A’s became what we know now. They went on to win plenty of AL West titles since then, but haven’t made it past the ALDS except for in 2006. These years have been known as the Moneyball era. Billy Beane has consistently put up winning teams. This takes us up to where we are now.

That is the history of our beloved Oakland A’s. Now you are armed and can show off how much of a true A’s fan you are. The A’s have been a team that has had short spurts of power in which they’ll win pennants and world series and then fall back down. This era however, is different. These days, the A’s have consistent teams that at least put up winning records. I’m proud to be an A’s fan and so should you.