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Elephant Rumblings: A catalogue of Canadian former Athletics

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Tampa Bay Devil Rays v Oakland Athletics Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It’s a long weekend, Athletics Nation!

While the majority of the AN faithful will be celebrating Independence Day come Monday, my long weekend started yesterday with Canada Day. As the rare Canadian A’s fan, I want to take the opportunity to highlight a few past Athletics who hail from up here in the Great White North. While there are currently no Canucks on the A’s roster, a few of the green and gold over the years have come from provinces across Canada. So throw on The Hip, and let’s take a quick tour.

Starting at the west coast, way down on Vancouver Island, we have Victoria, British Columbia native Rich Harden. Over seven seasons with the A’s (2003-2008, 2011) Harden went from a promising arm in his early years to being injury-plagued by the time he was traded to the Cubs in 2008. Rich was known for a high strikeout rate, never having a season with a K/9 lower than 7.9, and before departing to the Cubs he pitched the third and still most recent immaculate inning in A’s history.

Hopping onto the mainland, and into the suburbs of Vancouver, is Brett Lawrie. Hailing from Langley, BC, Lawrie only had a single season with the Athletics before getting moved along to the White Sox. Lawrie’s presence on the A’s came in a year of many frustrations for fans, not too far off from this season. As an extra coincidence, Harden and Lawrie are connected by the same trade tree, as Harden was dealt for prospects including Josh Donaldson, and then Donaldson was later sent away (to Canada!) for a package including Lawrie.

As we shoot eastward to Ontario, I do want to shout out my current home, Edmonton, Alberta. Home of the 1995-98 Edmonton Trappers, the then Triple-A affiliate of the Athletics and my city’s last taste of affiliated ball. Jason Giambi, Eric Chavez, and Miguel Tejada all played way up north in Edmonton before making it to the A’s.

Our next stop is southern Ontario. Just outside of Hamilton sits the town of Simcoe, home of John Axford. You may remember him from a pair of seasons with the A’s a half-decade ago. Axford signed as a free agent in 2016 and finished that year with the second-most innings thrown from the A’s bullpen and a just barely sub-4.00 ERA. The 2017 season didn’t fare as well for Axford, and after a 2018 with the Jays he was gone from MLB ... until a single appearance for the Brewers last year where Axford was injured after five batters faced and only one out.

Moving slightly northeast to the Greater Toronto Area, we’ll take a quick look at a Scarborough, ON, native who only spent half a season with the A’s. George Kottaras was traded to the Athletics in late July 2012, serving as a backup catcher in a surprisingly successful postseason push, and he offered 19 RBI on nine extra base hits over 27 games. Kottaras went on to get claimed by the Royals off waivers in 2013.

Finally, we make our last stop in the maritimes, at Saint John, New Brunswick. A province that’s still home to a Professional Hitter. Matt Stairs is the last Canadian member of the A’s we will highlight today. A member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Stairs’ time with Oakland was his longest tenure for any one team during his journeyman career. Worth 7.4 bWAR over five seasons as an Athletic, Stairs nailed 122 homers with a 125 OPS+, and on defense he collected 35 outfield assists using his strong throwing arm. After leaving the A’s in a trade to the Cubs, Stairs would end up playing for 13 different teams total, a position player record. While nearly half the league had a chance to cheer for Stairs, he had his best years playing in Oakland.

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See any familiar names on this timeline?