There are certain players that come to mind when one thinks of the speedsters of the 1960s and 1970s. Maury Wills brought the stolen base back into vogue. Lou Brock and Joe Morgan used steals as a weapon to lead their teams to championships. On the Oakland A’s, Rickey Henderson gets all of the attention, and deserved so considering his place in baseball history.
That means that another impressive speedster gets lost in the shuffle. Bert Campaneris was the A’s answer to Wills and Brock, the catalyst to their lineup as they returned to glory in the 1970s. However, these days, Campaneris is somewhat forgotten.
Bert Campaneris – the Oakland A’s forgotten speedster
Campaneris does hold a unique place in baseball history. On September 8, 1965, he became the first player in MLB history to appear at all nine positions in the same game. Although he was 0-3 and allowed a run on two walks and a hit, it was a day that no one would ever forget.
But he was far more than that one day. Campaneris was the key to the A’s offense, an exciting speedster who made everything go. He led the American League in steals six times, stealing over 30 bases 11 times in his career.
Campaneris was able to use that speed to great effect over his career. He produced a solid .259/.311/.342 batting line, hitting 313 doubles while stealing 649 bases. Those 649 bases are the 14th most in major league history and are the record at shortstop for the Live Ball Era (since 1920).
Although that performance was not enough for enshrinement in Cooperstown, it does not change what Campaneris meant to the A’s. His skill on the diamond was a key component in the team’s success. He deserves to be remembered amongst the greats in Oakland A’s history.
Bert Campaneris is somewhat forgotten these days. However, the speedy shortstop was a key part of the Oakland A’s success and should be remembered.