All-Time A's Honorable Mentions:
With this diary I wrap up my series of my list of the top A's of all-time. This list seemed to have caused more than a little controversy - particularly for the inclusion of Eric Chavez and the "low" placement of Rickey Henderson, but I would say, most aptly for the exclusion of Al Simmons.
Born Aloys Szymanski, Aloysius Harry Simmons would have topped Connie Mack's all-time list. When asked who could provide the most value to a team, Mack answered, "If I could only have nine players named Simmons." Bucketfoot Al's face was also the only former player's to grace the walls of the illustrious owner/manager's office.
He earned that monicker because he "stepped into the bucket" with each swing - but still managed to cover the plate because he swung one of the largest bats ever made, 38 inches long and 46 ounces. While he did not lack for power as his 307 career home runs attest, Simmons was one of the great hitters for average of all-time. He posted a career .334 batting average including four seasons with better than a .380. He also topped 100 RBIs in each of his first 11 seasons with the A's and is 16th all-time with 1,827.
Right around the time that Kirk Gibson and Dennis Eckersley's parents were probably being born Al Simmons performed similar heroics. After busting up his knee in his game winning double to start the double header, Simmons was forced to the bench, practically unable to walk. Connie Mack called on him to pinch hit with the good guys down 7-4 and the bases loaded. One pitch later the A's were up 8-7 and no one had to wonder how Simmons would manage to get to first.
Simmons had a long, succesful career, finishing 28th all-time in total bases and 33rd in hits, with 2927. He would long lament that last number, however, failing in his goal of reaching 3,000. He would long regret bowing out of a blowout to have time to clean up and hit the town or missing a start to nurse a hangover. As a grizzled old coach he would advise a young Stan Musial, "Never relax on any time at bat; never miss a game you can play."
Spanning over 100 years of history, A's fans of all generations have been lucky to experience some of the best baseball ever played. The story has been strangely similar over the years, as one of the great baseball men of his days, whether it be Connie Mack, Charlie Finley, Sandy Alderson or Billy Beane, built one dynasty after another - but ultimately saw it fall to the financial realities of his day. Can Billy Beane be the one to master this vicious cycle or will history repeat itself again?
I would also like to note that I made a small error in my calculations and Eddie Collins should actually be the #6, not the #7.
Of course, as always, a recommend is appreciated.