Oakland Athletics’ This Week In History: Eric Chavez, Ricky Henderson and Mark McGwire


Each Sunday, take a look back on the most important moments in the Oakland Athletics’ organization with This Week in History:

This Week in A’s History
On this date exactly fifteen years ago, a 22-year-old Eric Chavez stepped to the plate with two down in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Athletics were leading the Orioles 8-2 and had the game under control, but this at-bat was quite possibly the biggest at-bat so far in the young career of the A’s third baseman.

Chavez showed great plate discipline, as he was known to do, when he evened the count at 1-1 after taking a called strike for the first pitch. He patiently waited as reliever Jose Mercedes tried to avoid ending up on the wrong side of history. But on the third pitch, Chavez swung the bat and launched a solo home run over the center field wall. With that swing, he became the seventh-youngest player ever to hit for the cycle, and only the thirteenth Athletic to accomplish the feat.

Chavez was one of the greatest A’s of all time. He played 1,320 games in an Oakland uniform, with a career average of just .267, but he had an on-base percentage of .343 and hit 230 home runs. He also amassed six Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger award, receiving the recognition he deserves both on the field and at the plate.

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But 15 years ago, Chavez had just started his career. After a solid partial season in 1999, Chavez was halfway through his first full year in the major leagues when he managed to hit for the cycle that Wednesday night in June. Over 25,000 fans witnessed history being made as he doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and tripled in the fifth inning – all off of Baltimore starter Mike Mussina.

Chavez was a huge key to the Athletics’ success throughout his career in Oakland, but for that one moment in time, he had the spotlight all to himself.

Also This Week:
In 1979, Rickey Henderson made his major league debut as an Oakland A. He batted in the leadoff spot, going 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base as Oakland lost 5-1 to the Rangers. Henderson, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009, holds the MLB record with 2,295 career runs scored, as well as the record for career stolen bases, with 1,406 all-time. During his 25-year career, he led the league in stolen bases 12 times, and he was in the top-ten in WAR nine times. He has the 19th-highest career WAR in history, at 110.8. Henderson was also a 10-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger, and a Gold Glove winner, so it’s safe to say that his debut was just the start of one of the most impressive careers in baseball history.

In 1996, Mark McGwire launched his 300th career home run in a 10-8 loss to the Tigers. Detroit starter Omar Olivares gave up that homer, which was just one of many on McGwire’s path to 583 career home runs.

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Many thanks to National Pastime, which points out all of the coolest, most historic baseball moments that should be remembered and talked about each year.

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