The Oakland A’s have had many great players come through their clubhouse, especially at the end of their illustrious careers.
A .195 batting average with no home runs and seven RBI in a five-year career with the Oakland A’s are hardly Hall of Fame statistics.
But add on a 33-year career as a manager (10 with Oakland), 2728 wins, six league pennants, and three World Series titles and that was impressive enough to get former A’s manager Tony LaRussa into Cooperstown in 2014.
Five Hall of Famers – Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, and Whitey Ford – have passed away in 2020. They came from a bygone era – before free agency was the norm – where a player began and ended his career with one team. Kaline (Detroit Tigers), Gibson (St. Louis Cardinals), and Ford (New York Yankees) all wore one uniform. Brock played 16 seasons with the Cardinals after the famous trade with the Chicago Cubs. Only Seaver (New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, and Boston Red Sox) of the five late greats played for more than two teams, although “Tom Terrific” is forever recognized as a Met.
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While Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson, and managers Dick Williams and LaRussa had productive years with other teams, they are associated primarily with the Oakland A’s. Jackson signed a personal services contract with the Yankees to ensure that he went into the Hall in Pinstripes. But he played 10 seasons with the A’s and just five seasons with the Yankees and appeared in more games (687-653) with the California Angels.
Rich “Goose” Gossage earned four wins and one of his 310 saves with Oakland. Harold Baines was the A’s DH from 1990-1992 and played in a World Series (1990) and All-Star Game (1991). Tim Raines logged 58 games with Oakland and added four to his 808 total career steals in Green and Gold.
Frank Thomas had the most productive season among future Hall of Famers with stops in Oakland. In 2006, Thomas hit .270 with 39 home runs and 114 RBI, played in the ALDS and ALCS, and finished fourth (behind winner Minnesota’s Justin Morneau, Derek Jeter, and David Ortiz) in MVP voting.
Mike Piazza ended his baseball career in Oakland, hitting .275 with eight homers and 44 RBI in 2007. Joe Morgan also played his final games in Oakland, the city where he was raised, hitting .244 with six home runs, 43 RBI at 40-years old. Pitcher Don Sutton was 13-8 with a 3.89 ERA in 29 starts in 1986.
Sluggers associated with the National League made brief appearances with the A’s. Billy Williams, 16 years a Cub, played two years in Oakland and had 34 home runs, 122 RBI with a .231 batting average. San Francisco legends Willie McCovey had five hits in 24 at-bats and Orlando Cepeda had three unsuccessful at-bats with the East Bay team before being traded to the Atlanta Braves for former 30-game winner Denny McLain.
The Oakland A’s are known for their great young players, but they have had their share of aging greats as well.