Think back to your first baseball game. Recall stepping out of the entrance tunnel to find a sea of bright green grass surrounded by cheering fans keeping score as organ music plays baseball's greatest hits. The A's will transport you back to that nostalgic baseball experience at every Throwback Thursday game, presented by Patelco Credit Union.
Upon entrance to the ballpark 5,000 fans will receive a Throwback Thursday commemorative scorecard and button, a different button will be given away at each Throwback Thursday game. Enjoy classic songs from an earlier era. Get a Throwback price on Plaza Level tickets for every Thursday game.
With the purchase of the Kansas City Athletics by eccentric businessman Charlie Finley, a number of innovative promotions were introduced in the early 1960s. Among them was Harvey, a mechanical rabbit with flashing red eyes that popped out of the ground delivering a basket of fresh baseballs to the home plate umpire. After years of disappointing results in Kansas City, the team eventually moved to Oakland with Harvey in tow. The performance on the field, however, did not improve much in their first few years as an Oakland ballclub. Then, at the beginning of the 1971 season, Harvey's mechanical function finally ceased, and (rumor has it) the rabbit was laid to rest beneath the stands at the Coliseum. The team then went on a tear, winning 101 games and the American League West title that season, and followed up with three consecutive World Series championships from 1972-74.
Jim "Catfish" Hunter, one of the greatest pitchers in Athletics history, never played a day in the Minor Leagues. A 19-year-old Hunter got his start with the Kansas City Athletics in 1965 after being bypassed by many clubs because of a foot injury. He silenced critics early in his career, however, when he pitched a perfect game in 1968. When the team moved to Oakland, it was Hunter who catapulted into stardom, helping lead the A's to three consecutive World Series championships from 1972-74. Hunter was a six-time All-Star with the Athletics, won the AL Cy Young Award in 1974, and holds Oakland's all-time career mark for wins (131). He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, and his number 27 became the first retired in Athletics history.
It's hard to tell what Rube Waddell was most known for: his heroics on the field or his antics off it. As one of the premier pitchers of his time, Waddell matched each thrilling victory with his bizarre behavior between games. Waddell joined the Philadelphia Athletics in 1902 after Connie Mack purchased his contract for $100 - the price of a cross-country train ticket. Mack hoped Waddell's reputation could be overlooked in exchange for the power of his left arm, and for many years, Waddell delivered on the mound. In his six seasons with the Athletics, Waddell led the American League in strikeouts and set the record for most strikeouts in a single season which stood until 1965. Eventually, Mack tired of Waddell's eccentric behavior - he would disappear for days on end, run off the field after passing fire engines, wrestle an alligator in front of a crowd of onlookers, take up residence at a firehouse or bar, and leave for fishing trips on important game days. He was easily distracted, and opposing fans would hold puppies or shiny objects in the stands in an effort to derail his attention. After suffering an injury to his throwing shoulder while roughhousing on a team train ride, Waddell was sold to the St. Louis Browns in 1908. Waddell was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.
Rickey Henderson is arguably the greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history. His illustrious career began in 1979 in his hometown of Oakland, CA where he would complete four stints with the Athletics over 25 years in the Big Leagues. By 2003, Henderson was Major League Baseball's all-time leader in runs (2,295), stolen bases (1,406), walks (2,190), leadoff home runs (81), and single season stolen bases (130). He was a ten-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion, AL MVP, Gold Glove winner, ALCS MVP, and twelve-time AL stolen base leader. Although Henderson has never officially retired from baseball, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009, and his number 24 was retired by the Athletics the same year.
Mickey Cochrane wasn't supposed to be a Big League catcher - the college student was only looking to make some extra money during the summer. But a friend persuaded a Minor League manager to allow Cochrane onto the team, promising the young man was a sure-fire star catcher. The problem was Cochrane had never played the position before, and actually despised it. Nonetheless, Cochrane became the everyday backstop for the Dover Senators in the Eastern Shore League. It quickly became apparent, however, that while Cochrane had no experience at catcher, he was an exceptional hitter, and eventually caught the eye of Connie Mack. Under the tutelage of veteran catcher Cy Perkins, Cochrane learned to master and appreciate the position, and in 1925, he hit .331 and caught 133 games for the Philadelphia Athletics. Cochrane would go on to have a spectacular career with the Athletics, winning the American League MVP and two World Series championships.
To express his gratitude to Charlie Finley, the new owner of the Kansas City Athletics, the governor of Missouri gifted the team a Missouri mule. Finley promptly decided to make the mule the team's mascot and named him "Charlie O." after himself. Charlie O. lived in a pen at the stadium, which also featured sheep and goats, and was kept behind left field. The mule appeared at every home game, and occasionally traveled around the country with the team. He was even known to show up at cocktail parties and walk into hotel lobbies with the unconventional owner. In the 1965 season, Finley decided to have the relief pitchers ride the mule from the bullpen to the mound, but this practice did not last long. When the A's moved to Oakland in 1968, Charlie O. made the move too and stayed with the team until his passing in 1976.
The most prolific figure in the history of the Philadelphia Athletics was Connie Mack. Mack served as manager and part owner from 1901 to 1950, setting the record for most games managed or coached with the same team (7,679) and most games won (3,731) in all of North American sports that is still held to this day. He became the first manager to win three World Series (1910, 11, 13) and the first manager to win consecutive championships on separate occasions (1910-11, 1929-30). It was Mack who adopted the white elephant as the team mascot, placing a patch on the jersey fronts, displayed proudly like a badge of honor. Mack was known for scouting players that showed "baseball smarts" and encouraged young men to finish college before entering the pros. It was his eye for both talent and intelligence that led to nine American League pennants, eight World Series appearances, and five World Series championships. Mack was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937 and retired after the 1950 season at age 88.