Building an Oakland A's Library
Obviously, there's The Book by that Lewis guy, but there are other books about the A's out there. Some of my favorites:
Three Weeks in October Fimrite et al
Okay, so it's an overpriced coffee-table book churned out by the newspapers to make a quick buck while World Series fever still lingered in the Bay Area, but it's still indispensable. Bay Areans will always remember where they were on 10/17/89, 5:04 pm. I was living in Oakland then and working in the city, and had left work early that day, as so many, thankfully, had, and took my usual commute route home - across the Bay Bridge and under the Cypress structure - to my humble abode at the corner if University and Alcatraz. I had planned to watch the game at a friends place, and was only dropping something off or picking something up. No sooner had I got back in my car when it began jumping up and down. I thought it was my asshole roommate at first, until I saw the telephone poles swaying.
Having grown up in the area, my reaction to earthquakes is always to try to take in as much of the experience as I can, because it is truly an awe-inspiring experience, but like so many this one seemed to be over by the time I realized it had started. It wasn't until I was back on the freeway and saw plumes of smoke rising hither and yon did I realize that it was worse than I first thought. My first reaction: "Damn. They're gonna postpone the game."
I was right.
The Baseball Book 1990 Bill James
As the 1989 season dawned, Bill James apparently had this crazy idea that the Oakland A's "have just a chance... to be the best major league team since the mid-seventies." He had a plan to follow the team around that year, and although it didn't exactly pan out that way (the quake seems to have upset him quite a bit), it still produced several nice articles on the A's by James, surrounded by nice articles by James, period.
A favorite excerpt from the "Players" section:
BILLY BEANE Oakland Big strong guy, career undermined by failure to learn the strike zone. He's about out of chances; as a major league player would have a K/W ratio of 10-1, without the other stats you have to have if you're going to do that."
Men at Work George Will
There are sections about Hershiser as a pitcher, Gwynn as a hitter, and Ripken on defense, but the first quarter of the book is on LaRussa, as a manager. Will has good access to the team, and the season is 1988. The excerpt from a meeting preparing for a game with the Red Sox is fascinating.
Five Seasons Roger Angell
Anything by Angell, really, although this is an early one and I think he improves with age. But the five seasons in question are 1972-1976, so there's a goldmine of material on Finley's dynasty.
I harbored a grudge against Angell for a long time, because he says in Ken Burns' Baseball documentary that 1989 was the "worst year for baseball ever" when, naturally, I feel like it was one of the best. But when I began reading him, I eventually got over it.
Speaking of Finley's dynasty:
Charlie O. & the Angry A's Bill Libby
I felt betrayed by Reggie for many years because he choose a Yankees hat for his plaque (Yay Rollie! Yay Eck!), but I also got over that. If I had to work for Charles Finley during my years in Oakland, I'd probably end up loving New York, too.
Reggie with Mike Lupica
If you were a kid growing up in the East Bay in the seventies, I just don't understand how he could not have been your favorite player.
Apparently, there is another Reggie out there, co-authored by Bill Libby
Rickey Henderson: Off Base -Confessions of a Thief with John Shea
Don't you think you ought to have retired before you write an autobiography? Reggie was still playing when he published his, too. This came out in 1992. Rickey's still playing. Is he planning on releasing it in volumes?
I loved hearing about Rickey growing up in Oakland. He knew Stew in High School.
Champions Glenn Dickey
Personally, I didn't think much of it, but it is cover-to-cover Oakland A's. Bonus: a forward by everybody's favorite homeboy sabremetician, Joe Morgan!
What else is out there? Any recommendations?