History of the Oakland Athletics

The Oakland Athletics, often referred to as the Oakland A's, one of the four official names the team has had, began in Philadelphia in 1901. Fifty-five years later, they moved to Kansas City and in 1968, they moved to Oakland, California. The A's have had a long career of successes, except for a 40 year dry spell from 1931 until 1971, when the team did not play in any post-season games. Over their 112 year span, the Oakland Athletics have won 1 Wild Card spot (2001), 15 American League West division titles, 15 American League pennants, and 9 World Series.

The Athletics began as the Philadelphia Athletics of the American League in 1901. Their first manager was Connie Mack. The team was successful in its second year in the league, winning the American League pennant in 1902. The Athletics continued playing well and in 1905, they again won the pennant. In the next decade, the Athletics dominated the major leagues for the first five years, winning the American League pennant in 1910, 1911, 1913, and 1914, and becoming the World Series champions in 1910, 1911 and 1913.

After the 1913 World Series win, most of the Athletics’ star players went to other teams and the Athletics suddenly became a losing team. In 1915, they had a 43-109 record. This started a streak of losing records and last place finishes for the team and the streak didn’t end until 1924.

Connie Mack turned the team around in the latter part of the 1920s, and the Athletics once again won consecutive American League pennants in 1929, 1930 and 1931, and the World Series in 1929 and 1930. However, it would be another 41 years before the Athletics would again play in post-season games.

The Athletics were, at best, mediocre through the 1930s and the first six years of the 1940s. From 1947 to 1949, the team had winning records but that ended in 1950 when they again finished in last place in the American League. That season also marked the end of Connie Mack's 50 year career as manager of the Athletics.

The Athletics continued to lose through most of the first five years of the 1950s, and Mack's sons, who had taken over control of the team, sold the Athletics to Arnold Johnson, who proceeded to move the team to Kansas City in 1955. The team was then renamed the Kansas City Athletics. The team did not fare any better, however, under Johnson's ownership and they continued to end up at or near the bottom of the league.

At the end of 1960, the Athletics were sold to Charles Finley who, within 12 years, would turn the Athletics into world champions. Finley took complete control of the team and began to invest in the Athletics' minor league teams and players. However, the Athletics didn’t improve at all in the first eight years of Finley's control.

Finley soon wanted to move the Athletics out of Kansas City but the American League and the state of Missouri did not give in to Finley's requests until 1967, when they finally agreed to let him move the team to Oakland. In 1968, the new Oakland Athletics were born. Two years later, the team's name was shortened to the Oakland A's and California would soon have a new world champion team.

The A's started playing in Oakland with some young players who would one day be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Players on this revitalized Athletics team included Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue, and Reggie Jackson. The Oakland A's had their first winning season in 1968 with an 82-80 record. The next two years, they finished second in the newly formed American League West division and they won the division title in 1971. Finally, in 1972, they won the American League pennant, their first pennant win in more than 40 years. They then went on to defeat the Cincinnati Reds in their first of three consecutive World Series wins.

In 1975, the Oakland A's reign ended when they lost the American League pennant to the Boston Red Sox. At the same time, player contract rules changed and free agency became a part of modern baseball. At the end of the 1976 season, many of the A's star players became free agents and they left for other teams. This left a huge void in the A’s lineup and the team once again fell to the bottom of the league.

In 1980, Finley made his last wise move as owner of the A’s when he hired Billy Martin as manager. The team had some good young players, including Ricky Henderson, and they ended up in second place in the American League West division in 1980. The following year, prior to the start of the new season, Finley sold the A's to Walter A. Haas, Jr., president of the Levi Strauss company.

The 1981 season was cut short by a strike and, although the A's had a good partial season and they won the American League West division, they lost the pennant series. They didn't enter post-season play again until 1989, but in the interim years, Haas built up the team with young rookies, including Mark McGuire and Jose Canseco. Another sharp move Haas made was to hire Tony La Russa as manger in 1986.

By 1987, the A's were back on the road to winning, ending the season with an 81-81 record. The Oakland As took the American League pennant series in 1988, 1989 and 1990 and they regained the World Champions title in 1989, winning their ninth and last World Series. They would again win the American League West division title in 1992, but then they entered a dry spell until 2000.

In 1995, Haas died and the A's fell into new ownership. The new owners, in an effort to cut the teams budget, sold and traded star players, including Mark McGuire and Dennis Eckersley. Even winning manager Tony La Russa was traded.

In 1998, Billy Beane was hired as general manager. His approach was different and the new A's depended on young minor league players and, surprisingly, they did well. They won the American League West division title in 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2006. The rise of the Oakland team under Beane's leadership is chronicled in the book "Moneyball."

These winning A's teams had a trio of top pitchers - Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito - plus some strong hitters, including Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada. However, these players eventually left the A's, some being traded and others leaving on free agency.

After several years of losing seasons, the Athletics changed managers and brought in Bob Melvin in 2011. A year later, the team was again a winning one, going to the playoffs as leaders of the American League West division.

Source for Information
Wikipedia - Oakland Athletics