Oakland Athletics: Required Reading For A’s Fans


Oakland Athletics fans, have you already read Susan Slusser’s “100 Things A’s Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”? If not, you should do it now!

About four years ago, I began teaching a class on the History and Literature of Baseball. (If you want a syllabus, let me know and I will send you one.) I assign five books as required reading (although to be perfectly frank, after grading their midterms, it appears that some of my students seem to have some confusion with the concept of “required reading”).

As a writer for Swingin’ A’s, I wanted to share a few books with you from time to time. You can consider these works as required reading for all Oakland Athletics fans, but don’t worry – there won’t be any pop quizzes.

The first book that I would recommend to you comes from a writer most A’s fans are familiar with: Susan Slusser. Last year she wrote 100 Things A’s Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die.

This is an amazing book. I would not change a thing about it, except to add that the 101st thing every true A’s fan should do is read this book!!!

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Slusser’s book has a little something for everyone. Do you enjoy stories about some of the early days of baseball, when players were a little bit zany? There is a chapter devoted to Rube Waddell. For those who may not know, Waddell won 131 games for the A’s in just six years. His ERA with the A’s was just 1.97. Waddell was a talented pitcher, but he was also a little crazy.

Slusser is a gifted story teller. In her book, she relates an incident where Waddell was once convinced he could fly, so he jumped out of a hotel window. He ended up in the hospital. The best part, as Slusser relates, was his roommate’s response when asked why he didn’t stop Waddell from going out the window: “What, and lose the hundred dollars I bet you could do it?”

There’s plenty of more-recent history as well. If you have fond memories of the early 70s teams, Slusser has got you covered. She has written separate chapters on each of the three World Championship teams. Were the details of the Mike Andrews Incident in the 1973 World Series a little fuzzy for you? Don’t worry, Slusser has the inside information on what Charles Finley was trying to do, and how of all the players were trying to thwart him.

Some of you might not be into “reading books” and sitting down and turning physical pages. (Note:100 Things A’s Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die is also available on Kindle!)  Maybe you’re more into doing things. Slusser’s book has quite a few suggestions for the active fan, as well. One of her suggestions is catching an A’s game at Ricky’s. (I can personally vouch for Ricky’s as a very fine watering hole, as it’s about five minutes from my home.)

Slusser has little biographies on all of the great players who wore the Green and Gold. There are some very cool stories about Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson and a whole host of other Athletics superstars

While reading her book, I was genuinely surprised to discover how much history has taken place relatively recently. Slusser’s chapter on the 2012 season took me right back to that magical team. Slusser discusses the emergence of Yoenis Cespedes,  Josh Donaldson, and Brandon Moss. She also recounts the playoff series against the Detroit Tigers.

During that series, I myself was at Game 5 with my fiance and my mom. This is how Slusser described the crowd after Justin Verlander shut down the A’s:

"“After the A’s fell in Game 5 in 2012, the Coliseum fans stayed. They stood and cheered and cheered, and the Oakland players remained on the field and applauded their fans right back. The love fest went on so long, even the Tigers players praised the atmosphere.”"

Slusser’s work is excellent. That chapter on the 2012 team alone is worth the purchase price.

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Susan Slusser is a very talented writer, and when it comes to the Athletics, she has great material. If you are a fan of the Oakland A’s, or even the Philadelphia A’s, this book will make you smile and leave you with a warm glow. (If you’re a KC A’s fan…tough luck. Hiroshima indeed.)

I heartily recommend that you get your hands on this book.  You’ll be glad you did!