Good morning, A’s fans.
Before our boys take on the two-time defending American League Champions this afternoon, I thought I would present to you a catch-all of A’s-related (and not-so related) items.
First off, Tyler sent this story to me last night, and it was an amazing read. Turns out former Oakland Tribune scribe Josh Suchon was a teenage heckler before he turned to the pen, generating a long-lasting and quite hilarious relationship with Orel Hershiser.
I remember thinking everything about life sucked right now. The A’s had lost the World Series to the Dodgers. I was going to be ridiculed at school for all the boasting I’d done. I owed a ton of money to kids from bets that I made. And, oh yeah, I had to find my own way home.
Worst of all, baseball season was over. No more games to attend. No more school to cut. No more autographs to obtain. No more BP home runs to chase. No more fun.
As these thoughts swirled in my head, I was just about to start crying again. Then I heard a commotion. Security guards were clearing the way. Somebody was behind them.
It was Hershiser.
Before I even realized what was happening, I yelled out, "YOU WERE LUCKY HERSHISER" as he walked by, trailed by reporters as he was taken to the interview room.
To which the A’s-killer replied – though Suchon did not know at the time – "Oh yeah. Grab a bat."
Thirteen years later, while covering the San Francisco Giants, Suchon found himself face-to-face with the former Cy Young Award winner:
Hershiser was there as a TV analyst for ESPN. Bashfully, with my heart racing, I went over and introduced myself -- first, as a reporter. Then I told him that I was the kid who told him he was lucky. Hershiser was more excited than me to hear this story.
His response was something like this: “No way! This is awesome! We need a bat! Who’s got a bat? We need a picture. My wife would love this! We need a photo for my wife. This is awesome!”
Hershiser went on to say he regretted saying, “grab a bat.” He was reminded of the famous Coke commercial with “Mean” Joe Greene when he threw a jersey to the kid. He wanted to throw something toward me. But it was too late. He was whisked away, and I was gone.
Honestly, I thought it was a bunch of crap. But I appreciated Hershiser being so kind and saying something nice.
Seriously, great read.
The story briefly mentions Tony Phillips, a member of the 1989 World Champions, who on this date in 1986 became the first Oakland Athletic to hit for the cycle. Phillips led off that game in Baltimore with a homerun. He singled in the second, hit a two-bagger in the fourth, (added another single in the fifth), and tripled in the eighth to finish off a 5-for-5 evening, as the A’s beat the O’s 8-4.
Perhaps less known is the fact that Phillips had a hand in the last out of every game of the 1989 World Series. After striking out to end the previous Fall Classic against the Dodgers, the circumstances surrounding next year’s games were much more pleasant. In the Series opener, he drove in the game’s first run with a single to score Dave Henderson. Later he threw out Candy Maldonado from third base to tie a ribbon around Dave Stewart’s shutout. He did the same from second base to retire Matt Williams to send the A’s to San Francisco with a 2-0 Series lead. Game Three ended with Phillips – this time in left field – calmly catching a fly off the bat of Kevin Mitchell to secure a 13-7 win. And finally his flip to Dennis Eckersley beat Brett Butler to the bag as the A’s celebrated a Giant sweep of their cross-town rivals.
Which leads me to my next story.
My oldest sister Tonianne, the person most responsible for the A’s fan I am today, did not get to enjoy the A’s last World Series victory. Not as she should have, anyway. In February 1989 – not even 30 years old – she was told she had breast cancer. Here’s one of her recollections of that season:
As the A's headed down the stretch, so did I. I was getting so sick from the chemo; it was taking me longer to recover between treatments. I was on steroids (supposedly to help with the nausea) so my face was bloated. I had my sights set on October, not because it was pennant time but because my last chemo treatment was coming up. In fact, my last treatment was on Friday, October 13 (the day before Game 1 of the Fall Classic). I popped into Safeway's floral shop just before treatment because I wanted to pick up a cactus plant for my chemo nurse. I ran into Uncle Rick who was in full A's regalia. Honestly, until I saw him I wasn't even thinking World Series. I just wanted the chemo to be over. It was pretty bad. I got sick in the office before they even brought the drugs out, and whatever they gave me after the treatment helped with the sickness but knocked me out for two days. I missed the first two games of the Series entirely. Usually if I had a treatment on Friday, I would be well enough to go back to work on Monday but I was pretty messed up so I didn't go back until Tuesday, the day of the earthquake.
I have to say I was pretty freaked out by the quake, and when the Series resumed it was hard for me to get caught up in it. I so wanted to! I wanted everything to be "normal" again. I remember going to Mom's to watch Game 3. They kept showing the clip of Al Michaels getting cut off by the quake. All of the pre-game stuff was centered on the quake; mourning those lost, and celebrating the heroes. I guess looking back, it was important to recognize that and put in perspective what had happened. But we were back to baseball, at least the A's were, and it felt good to try and enjoy that.
I don't remember where we watched Game 4...
I remember one game; it was July, freezing cold as usual. I think it was the top of the 9th and we were losing like 10-0. Dad wanted to leave and started up the stairs. I sat there (all I had for warmth was a crocheted poncho mom made) and I was shivering so badly but I wouldn't leave. Dad stood at the top of stairs calling me a "stubborn woman" and saying he was going to leave. But he got himself a cup of coffee as the bottom of the ninth started. Still yelling down at me. And then I looked up and saw his back. He was leaving without me! So I went after him. I don’t know why he couldn’t have waited for one more out.
Another time Dad told me he was going to take me and my girlfriends to the game, but he had to go into work first. Yeah, I had turned all my friends into A’s fans. But it seemed like Dad was taking forever to come home and I stood at the front window saying over and over, ‘He’s not coming, he’s not coming.’ And then Mom would call out from the kitchen, ‘He’ll be here! Did he say he was going to be here?’ ‘Yes’. ‘Has he ever not shown?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then he’ll be here!’ And sure enough he drove up and I started jumping up and down and hugged him when he got inside and he’s there wondering what the heck is going on. He had that look on his face like, ‘What?’ And I kept telling him over and over, ‘You made it!’ Of course in the car he told jokes to my friends all the way to the game and I sat there kicking myself for not taking BART.
Tonianne will turn 53 in July. To celebrate her 50th, we went to Cooperstown for Rickey’s Hall-of-Fame induction. I imagine every day for her is a celebration. But still she waits for one more World Series that she can enjoy. More thoughts on '89:
I don't remember being overly celebratory. I do remember that at Christmas all of the kids had World Series Champion t-shirts and that was fun! Michael gave me an A's team jacket and that was the tiny beginning of my road to recovery- from cancer, quakes and the like. I felt like the coming year would be great again and I was hoping that I would get to "celebrate" another A's championship.
I don't know that winning a World Series again will ever feel like it did in ‘72 but I'd like to find out! I want our kids to jump up and down and go crazy and feel the pure joy that we felt. I'm glad that you can remember ‘89 differently than I do. I'm glad that you were able to experience that joy of winning it all. I'm glad that the year ended better than it began!
Yesterday, I posted this on Facebook:
Hello, lovely A's fans. In the hour before you set your dial to 95.7 to listen to our A's vs. the Angels, I would like to ask you to take a moment to donate to a very worthy cause. A cause that is very close to my heart: the fight against cancer. My oldest sister - the very reason I am the A's fan I am today - is a breast cancer survivor, and has taken part in every BCA Day the A's have held. So please. Donate. In honor of this amazing woman and fellow A's fan. Thank you. Go A's!
P.S. if a bed-ridden Ken Korach can donate, so can you :)
P.S.S. anyone who donates until midnight on May 21 receives a free copy of my book "Generation A's Fans: A Family's Long Love Affair With One of Baseball's Best Teams." Your email address will be required to receive the book.
I would like to extend the same offer to you. Here's my Relay page. Thanks for reading.