Quick, out of the ten teams that entered the Major League Baseball playoffs, which one plays in the stadium with the most history? Certainly not the teams in New York and St. Louis, baseball hotbeds who have built new facilities within the decade. The answer would be the Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland A’s. This venerable field, home also to the Raiders, has seen six World Series and over twenty other playoff rounds. Legends such as Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers and Catfish Hunter have called this place home and have had some of the finest moments of their careers in that building.
Now as I watch the Tigers play the A’s in this year’s playoffs, I catch myself gazing at the screen wondering what it was like in the mid-70’s with those great Oakland clubs winning championship after championship. It could be Sal Bando making another diving stop at third, a Joe Rudi leap at the wall taking away a home run and Vida Blue missing yet another bat. I was lucky enough to catch the 1987-1992 version which saw Oakland capture three American League pennants and one World Championship. I think of the Dave Stewart glare, Dennis Eckersley recording another save on less than ten pitches and a monster home run from either Jose Canseco or Mark McGwire. Of course, how could I forget the Man of Steal, Rickey Henderson? Earlier this decade, we were able to witness one of the most formidable pitching trios that made half their starts in the Coliseum: Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. Although this group never reached the World Series, they nonetheless were one of the most successful organizations from 2000-2006.
Now it is 2012 and by this time tomorrow, the Oakland Coliseum may be hosting yet another American League Championship Series. The A’s want a new stadium just like everyone else. It will be a sad day for us all when the inevitable moving trucks show up and that the Oakland Coliseum, like many other historic baseball venues, goes into the dustbin of history.
Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com