May 31, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Former Oakland Athletics pitcher Rollie Fingers prepares to throw out the first pitch prior to the game against the Los Angeles Angels at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
As a 14-year-old kid, I watched in awe as the Oakland A’s won their third consecutive World Series and as a grown man, I watched again as my boys of summer were celebrated with a well-staged reunion of the 1974 A’s by the current Athletic’s organization.
Led by a superb pitching staff of Jim ‘Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman, Vida Blue, and John ‘Blue Moon’ Odom and superb hitting of Reggie Jackson, Captain Sal Bando, Joe Rudi, and Gene Tenace, there was no telling how far this team would have gone. For me and other A’s fans at the time, championships and division titles had become expected.
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On Saturday, May 31, the current 2014 A’s players met the former World Champs and escorted them to their former positions. There were many similarities to the core of the Mustache Gang to when they were coming up and establishing themselves as a force in baseball to the team now as it also develops with a bright and promising future.
The ’74 A’s had a power hitting outfielder with speed and a strong arm in Reggie Jackson. This year’s team has a comparable outfielder in Yoenis Cespedes. Sal Bando, a sure-handed fielder and four-time all-star, who could be counted to hit the longball, led and anchored the team at third base. Josh Donaldson is showing the same potential, if not exceeding that performance.
The parallels are obviously there. Both have/had strong pitching staffs with notable control and low ERAs. The ’74 A’s had a speedy, game changing lead-off hitter in Center fielder Bill North who, aside from also even wearing #4, matches the mold of Coco Crisp.
Joe Rudi was a Gold Glove winning fielder, same with Josh Reddick. Gene Tenace, MVP of the ’72 Series, was converted to a first baseman when he began hitting home runs. Brandon Moss, formerly an outfielder, is doing the same.
The ceremony wasn’t only celebrated on the field, but in the stands. Somewhere in that sell-out crowd of 36,000, I’m hoping was a kid developing a bond with this current team that I had with the A’s of the 70s.