I came across some outstanding material from our friends at The Hardball Times today, and by "came across" I mean some dude sent me the link.
If I asked "When was the last time the A's were at .500?", most of you would respond "May 29." And you'd be correct. Kinda. But if you want to get all nostalgic about it - and really, who doesn't? - the correct answer to that question is June 7, 1941.
Yes, it was 70 years ago today that the A's, as a franchise, and our dear friend Miss .500, crossed paths for the last time. Connie Mack's club was defeated by the Cleveland Indians by a 6-2 score, as Jim Bagby- who would be on the mound when Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak came to an end later that summer- spun a complete-game four-hitter. The loss dropped the Athletics' all-time record to 3,015-3,015.
They've been under water ever since.
As The Hardball Times explains:
They dropped their next four games after that and played poorly the rest of the season, ensuring their record stayed under .500. Then they lost 99 games the next year. And 105 in the following campaign. And so on.
They posted only two winning seasons in the next two decades, and didn't top 90 wins until Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, and Rollie Fingers were on the squad. By that time they were so far under .500 that they've never been able to get back to the promised land of franchise-wide mediocrity.
They bottomed out at 763 games under .500 on May 21, 1968 (4,730-5,493), a mark only two others franchises have reached: the Browns/Orioles, and the Phillies. Even the Senators/Twins never went 763 games under (instead bottoming out a 739 games).
Despite all their success since May 1968-four world titles, six pennants, 15 playoff appearances-the A's have filled only 35 percent of their hole. Prior to Monday, they're 488 games under .500.
(Make it 489 games below.)
Some other fun facts to satisfy your taste buds:
Reggie Jackson (Class of 1966), Jose Canseco ('82), and Huston Street (2004) were drafted by the A's on this date. Jackson and Canseco would go on to enjoy MVP seasons, and Canseco and Street would earn Rookie of the Year honors.
And this date's "I was There Moment", June 7, 1981:
Boston starter Dennis Eckersley keeps the A's in check for 8-2/3 innings, and is one strike away from sending the A's to a 3-1 defeat when Tony Armas crushes a game-tying, two-run homer. In the bottom of the eleventh inning, Dwayne Murphy hits a walk-off solo shot into the centerfield bleachers to win it for the A's.
That's all the time I have for now, folks. See you at the first pitch. Until then, be good to each other.