I attended my first Oakland Athletics game sometime in the mid 70's... just around the time that Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson, and Blue Moon Odom were bringing World Series titles to the Bay Area.
Unfortunately... it wasn't until the Billy Ball Era that I became a diehard fan who followed them everyday in the San Jose Mercury News. The Man of Steal was my very first favorite player until the Athletics traded him to the New York Yankees after the 1984 season.
The A's were mediocre at best during the mid 80's... but they started to build around young guys like Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Luis Polonia, Stan Javier, Terry Steinbach, and Walt Weiss. Plus they brought in veterans like Dave Stewart, Dave Parker, Bob Welch, Dave Henderson, and Dennis Eckersley to help support the young guys. This led them back to the World Series three straight years and it was easily one of the most memorable eras for myself and other A's fans too young to remember their run in the 70's.
Unfortunately the Athletics only made the playoffs twice in the 90's... but that didn't stop me and my buddies from attending games. We loved watching Henderson and McGwire early in the decade... then Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada later in the decade. Both of these guys helped lead a new generation of Athletics back to the postseason with guys like Barry Zito, Eric Chavez, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, and Ramon Hernandez.
By 2004 the Athletics had lost Giambi, Tejada, and Johnny Damon and were starting to enter the Money Ball Era. It worked for a few years, but by the late 2000's... the A's were back towards the bottom of the standings.
The past five years have continued to be a roller coaster for my favorite team and their fans. Until they change ownership, money is going to continue to be an issue and any young guys who rise through their system and become stars are going to always be considered trade bait.
This can be disconcerting to fans... but after being a fan of this franchise for close to four decades... you just gotta think positive and don't stop believing.
Look at Chicago Cubs and their fans. It's been over 100 years since their team last won a World Series title, but the future is looking mighty bright for them this season.
And while we're talking about them Cubbies... I'd like to thank one of their loyal fans for providing all of the cards you've seen in this post. Thanks P-town Tom! I'll start building a package of Cubs for you and hopefully I'll get it shipped out to by the Mid-Summer Classic. Best of luck to your team. I have a feeling that I'm due for a long wait in regards to my beloved Athletics and Padres, so that means I'll be cheering for teams like the Cubs and Astros this postseason.
Happy Saturday and sayonara!