One of the best parts about baseball is the history of the sport. Teams honor their history in different ways. They might honor it with throwback nights where players wear the uniforms of past teams or bobbleheads of great players who have since retired. But most noticeably, they honor it with the retiring of the numbers of the best players in the history of the team.
The Oakland Athletics have been stingier than most teams in MLB about retiring their numbers and currently have only five numbers retired. The five players include Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, and Rollie Fingers, in addition to the universally retired number of Jackie Robinson.
Those numbers belong to deserving players, each of them Hall of Fame inductees, but are they the only ones that deserve such recognition? No, the A’s have a long rich history dating all the way back to their days in Philadelphia. The following are four players whose numbers the A’s should consider retiring.
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A member of three World Series Champions, and a Cy Young and MVP award winner in 1971, Vida Blue is one of the best pitchers in Oakland Athletics history. He is often forgotten because of how good fellow pitchers Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers were during the same time period for the A’s.
Over a span of nine seasons in the green and gold, Blue was named to three All-Star games and finished in the top ten in Cy Young voting three times, with a WAR of 29.1 according to Baseball-Reference.com.
The A’s could choose any of the five numbers he wore while with the Athletics, but his number 35 is the number he wore during his MVP/Cy Young year, as well as during two of his three World Series years.
No, number three is not for recently retired Eric Chavez, but for one of the best players in the history of the team. Jimmie Foxx spent 11 years in an A’s uniform, winning two straight MVPs and being named to three straight All-Star teams with the Philadelphia A’s before he left for the Boston Red Sox.
On top of his MVPs and All Stars he also helped lead the team to back-to-back World Series wins in 1929 and 30. Foxx also had a gaudy WAR over the 11 year span of 62.5.
If the A’s are finally going to honor their Philadelphia past, then Foxx is the perfect place to start.
Jul 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics former managerTony La Russa
, pitcherDave Stewart
and infielderRickey Henderson
on the field during the celebration of the 1989 Oakland Athletics World Series Champions before the game against Baltimore Orioles at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
You might think I’m crazy because 34 is already retired, but I’m not suggesting that the number be re-retired – only that Dave Stewart should be added to the number.
Stewart spent eight seasons with the Oakland Athletics and was the MVP of the one World Series the A’s won during his time with the club. Not only was he the MVP of that World Series, but he also helped lead the team to three-straight American League Pennants, amassing a win/loss record of 119-78 and a WAR of 19.
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His overall numbers are not Hall of Fame worthy, but he has meant a lot in Athletics’ history and should be honored for it by adding his name up there along with Hunter’s.
The captain of the team during the three 1970’s World Series Championships is not Hall of Fame caliber, but much like Stewart, he meant too much to the A’s to be forgotten.
Sal Bando was a four time All-Star and finished as high as second in the MVP race in 1971, finishing behind Blue. He also placed in the top five in MVP voting two other times and received votes in seven of his 11 seasons in the green and gold.
Bando is not remembered as the hero of the World Series teams, but without the captain it is unlikely there would’ve been a dynasty in Oakland. It’s time for the A’s to realize that and honor him by retiring his number.