Driving in my 91’ Toyota corolla near the Dublin BART station on the 580 West invokes memories of bliss. The Coliseum Way and Hegenberger freeway exit off the 880 gives me goose bumps. The old, stinky broken down stadium that no one wants to play in or come to; is the place I fell in love with my future wife. The Oakland Alameda Coliseum (O.Co currently) is a cult-like, bay area landmark that has captivated its audiences with professional athletic achievements. The Oakland Athletics, Raiders, and Golden State Warriors aren’t just professional sports organizations to me. They represent Oakland’s radical socioeconomic culture. I liked to thank travdog6 and A'sIN for their beautifully written articles about their coliseum experience; although I might be covering an old subject, I couldn’t think of a better audition topic to write about then my love of O.Co as we near the upcoming baseball season.
I took my future wife on our first date to an Oakland A’s game in April of 2012. We could never imagine that the first year of our relationship, would correspond with the Cinderella tale of the Oakland A’s run towards the 2012 AL West crown (then repeating the following year as we know). The greatest experience that year was being there for the clinching divisional crown game, when Josh Hamilton of the Rangers dropped a routine pop fly in center field. The vibe and atmosphere inside the Coliseum that day gives me chills. We literally must of went to almost every Tuesday night game that year (got to love free parking Chevy Tuesdays). My girlfriend and I were spoiled that year because the tickets were free through an A’s employee. We would get into the parking lot around 4 P.M; spark up the BBQ, crack open some brews and enjoy the ambiance around the coliseum. From the tailgaters to the bums selling tickets, there isn’t a better tailgating experience out there then Oakland’s Coliseum.
I truly believe that Oakland A’s fans are spoiled (deservingly so). The 70s was a renaissance for professional sports in Oakland; The Raiders, A’s, and even the Warriors all enjoyed winning championships with their rebel mystique (not to mention having the best uniforms in all of pro sports). The A’s and the New York Yankees are the only two franchises in baseball history to have won three straight World Series; Oakland can thanks the likes of Reggie Jackson, Vide Blue, Ray Fosse, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Dick Green, Joe Rudi, and Gene Tenace. We must also never forget the great teams of the late 1980’s and early 90’s that were managed by hall of fame Tony LaRussa. Players such as Ricky Henderson and José Canseco have a special place in the heart of A’s fans (and who can also forget that our beloved GM Billie Beane was on that team). Oakland’s homegrown Dennis Eckersley is deservingly the most beloved player and dominating closer from 1988-1992. His incredible highs (CY Young winner) and lows in his career (Kirk Gibson Home run)
The current stadium situation that faces our professional Oakland sports raises questions about what is it we truly value in our sports entertainment. Do we conform to the stereotypical ideal that bigger means better (by building an AT&T type stadium)? Or do we rally around the diverse, family oriented community that represents working class America? My hometown of Fresno, California wrestles with these very same issues in different ways. It has a decaying downtown arena that is full of lasting memories and ready for an investing revival. Yet, the city has thrown away thousands of tax payers’ dollars at triple A Giants affiliated baseball team and stadium that hasn’t brought a damn thing to the community.
The Coliseum will always have a special place in my heart. Every time I enter the parking lot for a game, I just can’t help but almost get teary eyed. The fans and residents of Oakland deserve their A’s and that stadium. The amazing history that has transpired within the confines of the Coliseum needs to be cherished and not discarded like a used paper towel. The owners of our Oakland teams have always been a little bit on the strange side, but that just adds to the lore and the reason why we must acknowledge all the amazing people that work within these organizations. The amazing fan support and community outreach the A’s do is another reason why professional Oakland sports is unlike any other.
An ESPN the magazine has just recently written an article about our own Josh Donaldson (http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10675670/oakland-josh-donaldson-beat-all-odds-become-star-third-baseman-espn-magazine). Its stories and athletes like these that make the A’s who they are and what they represent. Overall, Oakland and their professional sports teams represent the blue collared, hardworking ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’ culture. Let’s cheer on our boys in green and gold for another memorable year!