The Oakland A’s could lose 100 games this year. That’s bad!
But also a rare occurrence.
Should this beleaguered outfit pull off such a dubious achievement, it would be only the second time since the franchise moved to the East Bay that it finished with a triple-digit loss total. In this retrospective, I examine the only time (thus far) that an Oakland A’s team dropped a century in the loss column: what came before it, how the season unfolded, and the aftermath.
Approximate reading time: 24-26 minutes.
Screenshot from an archived ABC News broadcast on February 26, 1979. Via YouTube
The year was 1979.
Jimmy Carter was president of the United States. Gas station lines stretched around the block, then around another block, thanks to the decade’s second oil shock, this time triggered by the Iranian Revolution. Michael Jackson released Off the Wall. The Daytona 500 race was telecast in its entirety for the first time (Richard Petty won; Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough traded paint in the final lap and later exchanged knuckles on the Daytona infield). Voyager 1 played paparazzi near Jupiter. Philips revealed the prototype of what would become known as the “compact disk.” C-SPAN debuted. The Uganda-Tanzania war raged on and then petered out. Prince’s eponymous second album hit record stores. Hurricane Frederic ravaged the Gulf Coast. Salvadorans turned against each other in a bloody civil war. A retired SS officer, out for a paddle at a Brazilian resort, suffered a stroke and his crusty old Nazi ass drowned. A total solar eclipse bathed North America in darkness for nearly three minutes.
The Oakland Athletics lost 108 games.
The Oakland Athletics lost 108 games merely five years after winning the third of their three straight World Series titles.
How the hell did that happen?
Stripping A Once-Great Roster
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As the Oakland Athletics players gang-tackled each other to the Oakland Coliseum turf on the celebratory night of October 17, 1974, no one could have foreseen that over the ensuing years, everyone of note would be sent to far-flung destinations. The A’s had just vanquished the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games, and given Oakland’s strong balance of pitching, defense, timely hitting, and attention to detail, not to mention their relative youth (the average age of the ’74 A’s was just under twenty-nine), there was no reason to believe that they couldn’t win a fourth straight title in 1975. And, perhaps, another one for the country’s Bicentennial. Instead, as the Seventies drew near its terminus, the Oakland Athletics devolved into an advanced state of disrepair and somnolence, a franchise devoid of star power and with one foot seemingly out the door.
The first domino to topple was the departure of ace pitcher James “Catfish” Hunter. Hunter, who had won 25 games and the American League Cy Young Award in 1974, had a clause in his contract which stipulated that A’s owner Charles O. Finley pay $50,000 per year to the pitcher’s life insurance annuity. When Finley refused to make the payments, Catfish took the owner to an arbitration hearing, which the player won. The contract was voided, Hunter became a free agent, and on December 31, 1974, he signed a five-year deal with the New York Yankees. Even without its best pitcher, the A’s won the division in 1975, but fell to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. Few suspected it at the time, but the dynasty was over once Sox second baseman Denny Doyle converted Jim Holt’s routine bouncer for the final out and the BoSox partook in reverie on the Coliseum infield.
More dominoes toppled. In December 1975, veteran catcher Ray Fosse was sold back to his original team, the Cleveland Indians. On April 2, 1976, starting pitcher Ken Holtzman and prolific slugger Reggie Jackson were dispatched to Baltimore for three players. Then, in June 1976, Finley attempted to sell rocket-armed pitcher Vida Blue to the Yankees and both outfielder Joe Rudi and ace reliever Rollie Finger to the Red Sox. The commissioner voided both transactions three days later, but Finley had made his intentions loud and clear. The big roster purge came after the ‘76 season ended, when five long-time A’s became free agents and scattered to the four winds: Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, Fingers, Rudi, and Gene Tenace. The 1977 team lost 98 games and, outside of thirty-five-year-old Dick Allen, a seven-time All-Star with the Phillies and White Sox who joined the A’s with his best days clearly behind him, there were few familiar faces. There was still Vida Blue, who, as it turned out, was in his final year as an Athletic; he would eventually be dealt across the Bay for a cadre of lukewarm bodies. There was Mike Norris, a rookie in 1975 who could never stay healthy. Also hanging around was aging reliever Dave Giusti, once an All-Star closer with the Pittsburgh Pirates but was now thirty-seven, only moderately effective, and looking forward to collecting his pension. Outside of Blue, Norris, and Giusti, the ‘77 manifest was dotted with a bunch of guys named Jim Tyrone and Paul Mitchell and Pablo Torrealba.
The 1978 season, now without Blue anchoring the pitching staff and providing a familiar face for the fan base (was anyone really jazzed for Steve Renko or John Henry Johnson?), featured 93 losses – buoyed in part by an 11-game June losing streak and a nine-gamer in August – and a midseason managerial change.
Then came 1979.
All-Star catcher Jeff Newman. Photos: Focus on Sport/Getty Images.
Losing games in bunches was once a frequent occurrence for the Athletics, particularly during their Kansas City stint. Over thirteen seasons playing in America’s heartland, the A’s breached the 100-loss mark four times, and lost 90-plus games five other times. By the time the Athletics moved west to Oakland in 1968, the farm system had accumulated and developed enough young talent that, instead of the staccato, spastic retching that was so common in the K.C. days, the early Oakland teams were able to at least tread water for a time, until breaking through with a 101-win season and a division crown in 1971, only to fall to the more experienced Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS. Then came the three straight World Series winners from 1972 through 1974, with the likes of Hunter, Blue, Holtzman, Fingers, Jackson, Bando, Campaneris, Rudi, Tenace, Fosse, Dick Green, and Billy North all playing important roles. The five-straight postseason appearances from 1971-1975 was the longest sustained run of success in A’s history since the 1929-1931 Philadelphia squads went to the World Series in each of those seasons. Between 1932 and 1970, the A’s finished above the .500 mark just seven times. But by the mid-1970s, the days of noisome, repugnant baseball were seemingly in the rearview, never to be revisited again.
Given the roster purges – both active and passive – that Finley undertook between 1975 and 1978, it wasn’t much of a surprise that the 1979 Athletics would endure the franchise’s first hundred-loss season in more than a decade, even if such a judgment is rendered in hindsight. One of the best players on the ‘79 team was thirty-year-old catcher Jeff Newman, who led the team with 22 homers but produced little else, and yet, he would become the lone Oakland representative in that year’s All-Star Game, because who else and why not? Newman would never appear in the Midsummer Classic again, washing out of professional baseball by 1984. Also contributing was a guy you’ve probably never heard of: a first-baseman named Dave Revering, who contributed a .288 average, 19 homeruns, and a team-leading 77 RBI. Like Newman, Revering would be out of baseball not long after the decade changed.
A Poor Start
1979 A’s manager Jim Marshall played for the Oakland Oaks during the early 1950s. Unknown photo credit.
The A’s began 1979 by dropping their first five games, though all were by close margins. Their first victory came on April 11, a 14-7 victory against the third-year Seattle Mariners under the dreary roof of the Kingdome, a game in which four A’s hitters – Revering, Mitchell Page, Dwayne Murphy, and Wayne Gross each collected three hits and combined to drive in eight runs and dent the plate 11 times. The month of April gave a glimpse of what was to come for the rest of the season: the Athletics went 8-14 and were outscored 125-74. Three times that month they were blown out: 10-1 to the California Angels, 13-1, also to the Angels, and 13-1 versus the Baltimore Orioles. The Baltimore game was especially ugly, as the O’s posted a 10-run seventh inning, aided by a trio of homeruns - a solo shot from Rich Dauer along with three-run jacks by Gary Roenicke and Ken Singleton. Before the game, Orioles third baseman Doug DeCinces felt back spasms while taking grounders and was sent to Merritt Hospital to be examined. In his stead, Dauer slid from his usual second base position over the hot corner. The day before, ace pitcher Jim Palmer departed mid-game with back spasms. The Orioles were still formidable – they would reach the World Series – but watching two of his key players going down with back injuries had O’s manager Earl Weaver hitting the Raleigh packs and pop-top Schlitzes with increasing gusto.
The A’s also dealt with some injuries in the early going. Young slugging right fielder Tony Armas missed several weeks with torn knee ligaments, and would play in just 80 games for the whole season. Backup outfielder Glenn Burke had a pulled hamstring. Infielder Mickey Klutts sustained a broken cheekbone when he tried to catch a line drive with his face instead of with his glove, and was glumly carted away on a stretcher to mild, sympathetic applause. Shortstop Mario Guerrero was beaned by a wayward batting practice pitch and missed several days with lingering headaches. So it goes on bad teams.
Associated Press photo
April 17 was the date of the famous game in which just 653 patrons bought tickets (and most of them didn’t even bother to show).
There were certainly some valid reasons for much of the fan base to skip this game besides the fact that two horrible teams – the A’s and the Mariners – were engaging in a languid struggle for basement supremacy. It had rained so hard early in the day that Steve Vucinich, the visiting clubhouse manager, was certain the game would be postponed. The temperature was in the forties and dropping. The game was also one of only 10 contests on that season’s television schedule, so perhaps it was better to stay home and watch on the tube than to go out in this crap. If the A’s were 9-2, perhaps another 3,000 would be willing to brave the elements.
The A’s were definitely not 9-2. But, also…
“People don't want to come to the ballpark because they don't want Finley to get his share of the tickets,” Donna Oneto, then the membership secretary of the Oakland A’s Booster Club, told Sports Illustrated in 1979. Finley had been actively trying to sell the A’s to Denver oil magnate Marvin Davis, who planned to relocate the franchise to the Mile High City. To make a long story short, the sale eventually fell through because the A’s were locked in a valid lease with the city to remain in the Coliseum through 1987; as the negotiations drew longer and the stalemate hardened, Davis eventually gave up. But for a time, with the threat of relocation dangling over the fan base like the sword of Damocles, many around the region braced themselves for the news. “We were always waiting for the shoe to drop that the team was going to be gone," A’s fan Erik Hoffmann recalled years later, “because nobody was going to the games. We were checking the newspaper every morning.”
The concession stands also left a lot to be desired. “There were like three things on the menu,” recalled radio personality Rich Lieberman, who attended A’s games as a kid. “There was a hot dog that tasted like it was made with jet fuel in a Moscow whorehouse, and then there was coffee, and then there was Coke.”
Not surprisingly, there was a funereal quiet inside the ballpark on that April 17 evening, the kind of silence that allows you to easily hear the nuances of the game that would normally be blunted or obscured by ambient crowd buzz. The crack of the bat echoed off of thousands and thousands of empty seats. A typically noiseless 83 miles-per-hour changeup would pop the catcher’s glove like a Goose Gossage heater. An infielder calling for a popup might sound like an angry father admonishing a miscreant child. According to Wayne Gross, “we were talking to people in the second deck: ‘Come on down close to the field!’” Few heeded the A’s third baseman’s request; the smell was less noxious up there.
There was a bonus to such tiny crowds, as quotable A’s relief pitcher Dave Heaverlo noted. “If your wife was sitting in the stands,” he said, “and someone tried to hustle and pick her up, you could see who the hell it was.” Whatever else could be said about the sparsely populated Coliseum environment of 1979, at least the baseball inamoratas had some protection against the indignity of being hit on by a random drunk male with a bad mustache, a trucker hat, and high-waisted bell-bottoms.
The game ended with flu-ridden backup catcher Jim Essian, who was making a spot start for an ailing Jeff Newman, sending a hard smash past third base to drive in the winning run as the A’s prevailed over the Mariners 6-5.
“It’s discouraging as hell,” Heaverlo mused after the game, “but I think we should dedicate this one to the 600 who showed up and stuck with us.”
“I didn’t hear anybody on the bench complain about the crowd,” said A’s manager Jim Marshall, who had played for the Oakland Oaks of the old Pacific Coast League in the early 1950s. “We were too involved in trying to win to be distracted by something we couldn’t control.”
Not one single time did the A’s break 20,000 in any home contest. Their largest crowd came, not surprisingly, with the defending World Series champion Yankees in town, as 19,538 filed through the turnstiles to watch the A’s drop a doubleheader to Reggie, Catfish, and company. Jackson was relatively quiet in both games; Hunter tossed 5 ⅔ innings of two-run ball, scattering eight hits, and receiving a no-decision.
The A’s topped 10,000 only five times: three times against the Yankees, once with the Red Sox in town, plus the home opener, against the Twins.
Starting pitchers Rick Langford (left) and Matt Keough (right) struggled so badly midseason that each was sent to the bullpen for brief spells.
Photos: Langford via ESPN.com; Keough, Getty Images
The month of May featured an eight-game losing streak that was part of a larger stretch in which the Athletics dropped 11 out of 13. In June, the A’s endured losing streaks of seven and eight games enroute to a 5-24 mark. They simply couldn’t score runs. It wasn’t as if they were being shut out on a consistent basis, but three runs could be considered an offensive explosion. It put pressure on a young and largely inexperienced pitching staff to not only be close to perfect, but to rely on a defense, especially on the dirt, that wasn’t great. “We can’t keep an offense together for more than five minutes,” Marshall groused. “We can’t get to where we can give our pitchers some runs, and it always seems like we get behind early, something happens right away.” Rick Langford, the A’s ace by virtue of being the oldest (twenty-seven) and with the most experience, struggled so much that he spent most of June pitching out of the bullpen. Matt Keough lost every decision in May, June, and July and also received several no-decisions. He would finish with a 2-17 mark. In one instance, Keough held the Red Sox to just two runs in a complete-game effort, but took the loss. Another time, he took a shutout into the eighth inning at Cleveland and received a no-decision. John Henry Johnson, the curly-haired lefty whom the A’s received in the Vida Blue trade, began the year 2-8 and on June 15 was traded to the Texas Rangers for catcher Mike Heath and infielder Dave Chalk.
July saw the A’s “rebound” to an 8-20 record, but four of those eight wins came in the month’s final six games. Dwayne Murphy, the team’s speedy young centerfielder, missed several weeks with a broken finger; at the time he was placed on the disabled list, he was hitting .273 with a .427 on-base percentage. Upon returning to the lineup on July 15, Murphy foundered, collecting just three hits in 26 at-bats to finish out the month. Third baseman Wayne Gross, who cobbled together a 23-game on-base streak spanning from April 24 to May 20, suddenly found the basepaths to be foreign territory, as he reached in just 20 of his 75 July plate appearances. On the mound, Keough failed to pitch into the seventh inning in three of his four starts (including a disastrous outing on July 9 in which he was pulled in the second inning after allowing a single, a wild pitch, a walk, another wild pitch, an RBI single and an RBI double), and was sent to the bullpen for a short spell to get his mechanics right. “He isn’t driving off the mound and directly towards the batters,” Marshall explained to the scribes the next day. “We are going to work on him to take a step directly behind him before release and come driving directly toward the plate. The way he comes at the hitters now is slightly from the side and it’s missing up his accuracy.” Keough made one relief appearance, at Yankee Stadium, and was hammered for four runs on six hits (with a pair of walks) in two innings, as the Yanks thumped the A’s 10-2. Keough would return to the rotation four days later.
A Pair of Youngsters Begin Long Careers
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Mike Morgan and Rickey Henderson. You’ve heard of one. You may not recall the other.
A right-handed pitcher, Morgan actually debuted the year before, as a slender, feather-haired, baby-faced eighteen-year-old, making a trio of starting assignments that resulted in losses (though he did last nine innings against the powerful Orioles). By 1979, Morgan was a slender, feather-haired, baby-faced nineteen-year-old who began the year at Triple-A Ogden of the Pacific Coast League, toiling for manager Jose Pagan, the former Giants infielder. Morgan was recalled to the big club in late June and made his season debut on the twenty-seventh, failing to last four innings against a formidable Kansas City Royals squad that could torture you with the likes of George Brett and Frank White and Willie Wilson and Amos Otis and…
A large, flame-haired, lefty-hitting first-baseman with good gap power but very little over-the-fence power, LaCock tormented the kid with a game-tying RBI double in the fourth, part of a four-run barrage that sent Morgan trudging from the hillock and into the showers. Morgan would make 13 starts, post a 2-10 record with a 5.98 ERA, and disappear from the big leagues until 1982, when he would resurface with the Yankees. By 1985, he was in the big leagues to stay, working for nine more teams and fashioning a long career initially as a reliable mid-rotation starter, and later as a reliever. Morgan retired in 2002, at age forty-two, a year after winning his only World Series ring while a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Henderson, of course, is a Hall-of-Famer, a local kid who made good, and perhaps the most beloved player in Oakland Athletics history. Drafted in 1976 out of Oakland Technical High School, Henderson was a three-sport star in baseball, football, and basketball. As a youth, Rickey had sharpened his baseball skills while ruling the diamonds at Bushrod Park in north Oakland, frequently at the expense of completing his household chores, to his mother’s displeasure. “He got a good whupping once when he was about twelve,” Bobbie Henley recalled in 1982. “He got up to go to the park and I told him it was his turn to mop the kitchen floor. He went to the park anyway. I went to the park, brought him back, and whipped him and then he went right back to the park.”
Upon reporting to Single-A Boise, the seventeen-year-old Henderson wasted no time flashing the ability he became best known for: stealing bases. In addition to hitting a robust .336, Rickey swiped 29 bases in 36 tries At the time of his callup from Triple-A Ogden in late June 1979, Henderson had already pilfered 44 bags in just 71 games played. Although he was just twenty years old (he wouldn’t turn twenty-one until Christmas), Rickey Henderson had nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. He made his Majors debut on June 24 in a doubleheader against the Texas Rangers at the Coliseum, going a combined 2-for-8 with a double – in his first at-bat – and a stolen base as the A’s, naturally, lost both games (including one to the recently deposed pitcher John Henry Johnson, who was now 2-0 with his new club. Johnson would lose his next six decisions while pitching poorly, validating why the A’s were willing to unload him). Henderson recorded his second hit - a single - and his first stolen base two innings later. Jim Sundberg’s name will always be remembered as the first catcher Henderson stole a base off of.
(Side note: if you’re curious, Henderson’s final steal came in 2003 against catcher Gregg Zaun, who began his big-league backstopping career six years after Sundberg retired.)
Henderson acquitted himself well, hitting .274 with a .338 on-base percentage – he hadn’t yet developed the keen batting eye that would enable him to draw 2,190 career walks and post an OBP 122 points higher than his batting average – and captured 33 bags in 44 tries. In one notable late-August game, Henderson stole three bags against Cleveland catcher (and future A’s teammate) Ron Hassey, while also contributing a pair of hits, a run scored, and an RBI as the A’s prevailed at Cleveland’s cavernous “Mistake by the Lake” 8-6, giving Rick Langford his ninth victory against 13 defeats. As a rookie, Henderson’s base-stealing statistical form was more drip than deluge; on only six occasions did he steal multiple bases, and 20 times he stole only one bag. Of course, some context is needed. Henderson played in just 89 games after his promotion, and one’s ability to steal a base is dependent on two things: getting on in the first place, and not having the next base occupied by a teammate. (Of course, when Billy Martin took over as manager in 1980, the second point became moot, as the cunning and combative skipper had no compunction about ordering a double-steal.)
The “Quest” for 100
Pictured here in 1977 with pitcher Bob Lacey, Wayne Gross (left) was the A’s starting third baseman for seven years. Photo: Russ Reed/Oakland Tribune
There was no quest for 100 losses, per se. But if you followed the A’s regularly in 1979 (full disclosure: I didn’t, as I was only a year old), there undoubtedly came a point when the century mark felt inevitable.
That feeling of inevitability likely sank in around August 26, after the A’s lost three of four in Cleveland (the one win was the aforementioned Henderson three-steals game) to drop their record to 41-90 with still over a month remaining in the season. Then, the A’s somehow won seven of nine games from August 31 through September 9, including a pair of walk-off wins against the Chicago White Sox (and future A’s manager Tony La Russa), temporarily blunting any suspense. But then the Athletics lost 5-0 and 7-0 in Milwaukee on September 11 and 12, giving them 96 defeats with 16 games remaining on the schedule, and the century mark loomed as clear as daylight.
It happened on Tuesday, September 18. Only 750 of the heartiest and most masochistic souls clambered through the Coliseum turnstiles to witness history. The A’s opponent was the Texas Rangers, a mediocre outfit piloted by second-year manager Pat Corrales that boasted an uninspiring 75-76 record while sitting fourth in the American League West. Oakland jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead when Revering clobbered a two-run homer off Ferguson Jenkins. The A’s bats went impotent as the Rangers scored three in the third, two more in the fifth, then one in the sixth to take control. Steve McCatty gamely hung on into the ninth inning, turning the ball over to Heaverlo after allowing a Bump Wills double and an Al Oliver single. Heaverlo allowed both of them to score, then loaded the bases, and finally plunked Pat Putman to force in yet another tally before the erratic righty miraculously retired the next three hitters. With Texas holding a seemingly insurmountable 9-2 lead, that hundredth loss seemed secured.
The A’s would not go quietly.
Jenkins, age thirty-six, with 245 career victories and more than 3,400 innings on his résumé, and sliding down the backside of his career, retook the mound in the bottom of the ninth and was promptly greeted by a Wayne Gross single. After Dave Chalk fouled out, Mitchell Page singled up the middle to put two runners on with one out. Pinch-hitting for punchless ex-Yankee Larry Murray, Jim Essian, the hero of the famous April 17 game, sent a routine fly ball to left-fielder Oliver. That brought up Rob Picciolo, the No. 9 hitter who was in just his third year as a big-leaguer. The Athletics’ first-round pick out of Pepperdine in 1975, Picciolo was an adept fielder who had been Oakland’s everyday shortstop in 1977, but he wielded a bat made out of balsa and eventually fell out of favor. By ‘79, Picciolo was buried on the shortstop depth chart behind Mario Guerrero, Mickey Klutts, and Dave Chalk, while occasionally filling in at second base. He calmly stepped in against Jenkins and delivered a single, plating Gross from second. Rickey Henderson stood in and smacked a ball that eluded slow-footed right-fielder Richie Zisk for a two-run triple. Corrales removed Jenkins from the game, sending in his closer, Sparky Lyle, to diffuse the unexpected A’s uprising. Lyle, the offbeat former Yankee who had been on their 1977 and 1978 championship squads and had captured a Cy Young Award, retired Dwayne Murphy for the final out. For the first time since 1965, when they still called the Paris of the Plains their home city, the A’s were hundred-game losers.
Just to drive the point home, the A’s proceeded to drop eight of their final 10 games, finishing 1979 with an unsightly 54-108 record.
New A’s manager Billy Martin suggests to an umpire that he undergo cranial-rectal inversion surgery. The ump appears unbothered by the self-described Little Dago’s request. Image via Dreamstime.com.
Jim Marshall was fired and Billy Martin, deposed from the Yankees after a tumultuous 1979 season that saw the Bronx Bombers finish fourth (and no doubt emotionally distressed by the sudden and tragic loss of team captain Thurman Munson in early August), was hired to pilot the A’s. Martin was born in Berkeley, attended Berkeley High School, played for Casey Stengel with the Oakland Oaks of the old Pacific Coast League, and was reunited with Stengel as a player for the Yankees during the Fifties. With the Charlie Finley-Marvin Davis deal extinguished, Finley, desperate to nourish his bank account, began casting about for local owners to take the A’s off his hands. He assumed – correctly, as it turned out – that making a splash hire for the manager’s seat in Oakland would boost the franchise’s profile and entice a few local businessmen to step up and make offers. As a manager, Martin was known for making chicken salad out of chicken excrement, taking over bad Twins and Tigers teams and leading them to playoff berths. With the Yankees, he took a team that was not-quite-good-enough and led them to the 1977 World Series title. But trouble always seemed to find Martin, and between clashes with team personnel and his pugilistic tendencies away for the ballpark, coupled with his love of alcohol, Martin took a leave of absence and was not on the bench for the Bombers’ encore performance in the ‘78 Fall Classic. He returned to the Bronx in 1979, only to be fired on October 29 after an altercation with a marshmallow salesman in Minneapolis.
The A’s began an immediate turnaround, going 83-79 in 1980, then a total 65-45 in the strike-interrupted 1981 season; their 37-23 pre-strike record gave them the “first-half” A.L. West division title and they would meet the “second-half” winners, the Kansas City Royals, in a divisional-round best-of-five playoff. The A’s swept the Royals in three games, then fell to Martin’s old club, the Yankees, in the League Championship Series. The 1982 A’s lost 94 games, as the pitchers’ arms began to wear down, the offense struggled to score runs, and Martin began wearing out his welcome. The one bright spot: Rickey Henderson cemented himself as one of the game’s most electrifying players, setting a new single-season record by stealing 130 bases.
Also coming out of the Martin era: Finley sold the franchise to Levi Strauss & Company chairman Walter A. Haas Jr. for $12 million. Although it would take several seasons, the A’s under Haas would enter a new golden age.
Sources for quotes:
Fimrite, Ron. “They’re Just Mad About Charlie,” Sports Illustrated/SIVault.com. May 21, 1979, https://vault.si.com/vault/1979/05/21/theyre-just-mad-about-charlie-as-few-as-653-fans-have-seen-the-as-play-but-its-owner-finley-whos-being-sued-for-nonsupport
McNear, Claire. “Remembering the Worst Attended MLB Game of All-Time,” Vice. April 16, 2015, https://www.vice.com/en/article/ez3ep7/remembering-the-worst-attended-mlb-game-of-all-time
Salter, Stephanie. “A’s Show Signs of Wear and Tear,” San Francisco Chronicle. April 16, 1979, pg. 52.
Stevens, Bob. “653 See A’s Win,” San Francisco Chronicle. April 18, 1979, pg. 55.
Stevens, Bob. “Baltimore Hands Keough His 11th Loss,” San Francisco Chronicle. July 10, 1979, pg. 47.
Wilstein, Steve, “Stop, Thief! — Rickey Henderson Is Stealing Everything He Can Get His Hands And Feet On.” Associated Press, August 8, 1982.