The Oakland A’s have always been a little different, whether it be their former owner Charlie Finley with his so-called crazy ways or the personalities that have drifted through the East Bay.
The A’s are a storied franchise known for their flamboyant ways, outrages colors on their uniforms and don’t forget the white cleats.
With a franchise like this, one would have to guess that there would have to be some players with personalities that shined more than those glossy white cleats.
Jose Canseco is no exception. This is a guy that had all the talent and potential in the world, but it was all overshadowed by tattoos, arrogance, speeding tickets, hand guns and eventually steroids.
Following is list of Oakland A’s players, managers and front office personnel that I believe had huge personalities, (good or bad), that made them stand out during their time in Oakland.
Big personalities can be defined as cocky, mean, self absorbed and even humble when I refer to the following men who graced A’s fans with their presence.
Some guys are on the list just because they had a different way about them, maybe the way they looked, or the way they were perceived by A’s fans, including myself.
This list is definitely going to be slanted towards members of the Oakland A’s that I grew up watching and hearing about as an A’s fan for the past 35 years.
Feel free to add your favorites if you think I missed a few.
Rickey Henderson is my personal favorite, from the way he played to the attitude,both personifying him as an arrogant, self-centered player not afraid to speak his mind and oh yeah,one of the greatest leadoff men of all time.
To honor Rickey for this listI will give you a couple of quotes from him over the years.
The following quotes were taken from an article on Rickey from Duk at Yahoo! Sports.
“They kept steroids from me. I wish they had told me, my God could you imagine Rickey on “roids” oh, baby look out.”
“If they’re going to pay me like (Mike) Gallego, I’m going to play like Gallego.”
Then there is the heavyweight champion of quotes for Rickey Henderson, pun intended.
“Lou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing. But today I am the greatest of all time”
Ya gotta love Rickey!
“Hendu” brought his big smile, fu manchu mustache and his signature way he fielded fly balls to Oakland and resurrected his career.
Henderson was with the A’s from 1988-1993 helping the A’s get to three World Series in a row with his veteran presence and charisma.
Billy was loved, Billy was hated.
Billy was hired, and Billy was fired.
None of this probably meant anything to A’s fans until the hired/fired saga surfaced in Oakland as a hire.
Billy Martin stormed into Oakland bringing the famous “Billy Ball” along with him from 1980-1982.
Billy was still Billy, yelling, screaming and probably drinking, but the A’s fans loved him.
Martin wasalways one to do what he wanted, so when hewas given control over the organization in 1981 as the generalmanager, he must have thought hehad died and gone to heaven, after what he went through in New York.
Billy was fired after the 1982 season, butBilly’s career continued in true Billy Martin fashion.
Charley Finley brought the Oakland A’s to Oakland in 1968.
Along with the team, he lugged his huge ego to Oakland as well.
Charlie wanted to win. There was no doubting that, but he was always stirring things up and causing controversy.
There is the famous contract dispute with Vida Blue. He nicknamed Jim Hunter “Catfish” and offered a $300 bonus to any player who would grow a mustache. This of course led to the “Mustache Gang.”
The list goes on and on,orange baseballs, the mule, the designated runner, trust me there’s more, but I will stop now and just thank Mr. Finley for winning.
Thanks “Charlie O”for giving A’s fans three championships in a row and thanks for all the fun.
“Eck” was another of my favorites, he was never afraid to speak his mind.
After fighting to remain a starting pitcher, Eckersley settled into his role as one of the best closers in the game with 390 career saves after being a starter for over 14 years.
The perseverance to renew his career says a lot about his grit and attitude.
From the signature long hair, his mustache and the pointing after a strikeout, ‘Eck will always be remembered in Oakland for the entire package of attitude and the willingness to give 100 percent of his guts every time he took the mound.
Reggie Jackson was known forthe muscular build that gave him the power to hit 563 home runs in his career and winning multiple World Series Championships.
The muscular phenom was definitely one the reasons fans came to watch A’s games in the early ’70s, but Reggie was an ego maniac who was surly with the media and didn’thave the best relationship with the fans.
On Memorial Day of this year, I was covering an A’s game against the Yankees when I struck up a conversation with Linda Radcliffe an A’s fan who has been attending A’s games since 1970.
Radcliffe said that she had developed relationships with a lot of players over the years but had this to say about Reggie Jackson, “Reggie and I were never friends,” said Radcliffe. “He threw a helmet at me and missed”
Love him or hate him, Reggie was a major reason the A’s won three rings in a row.
Rollie Fingers was the quintessential reliever with an attitude that fit right in with the swaggering A’s of the early ’70s, aka the “Mustache Gang.”
Speaking of the “Mustache Gang,” Fingers jumped at the chance to earn a little extra cash when A’s owner Charlie Finley offered a $300 bonus to any player who would grow a mustache.
Fingers decided to have a little fun with it, and he grew his trade mark handle bar mustache.
Come on! Anyone who would grow a “stache” like that and keep it deserves to be on this list.
“Swish” is a fiery hard nosed ball player.
When Swisher was with the A’s he had the renegade long hair, he was unshaven most of the time, his lip bulging and he always seemed to have a smile on his face. He carried himself in a way that said, “I’m having fun and I am blessed to play the game that I love.”
Now back to the “mustache Gang,” don’t you think this guy would have fit in perfect with those guys from the ’70s?
Billy Beane has changed the way a lot of small market teams run their clubs.
Unless you have been in a cave, you have probably heard of Moneyball.
Beane is able to find talent and cultivate that talent. The problem with Moneyballis when a player becomes a star the A’s have to trade him because they no longer can afford him.
It takes a special kind of personality to be able to bring these kids up through a system, forge a bond with them and then have to eventually let them go.
Beane is agood general manager and has the fortitude to do what he has to do to get things done.
Matt Stairs and Jason Giambi
I put these guys together because they seem similar to me.
What I mean by similar is their attitude, not their skills.
When they played together in Oakland they both had long hair at one time, and both had that free wheeling attitude.
Like Nick Swisher they both seemed grateful for what they had and played like there were no guarantees, enjoying every minute.
If there was ever a list assembled of players who would play in a summer softball league, if they weren’t in the big leagues, these two guys along with Swisher would be on it.
Couldn’t you see these guys sitting on a bar stool at a local pub with their jerseys hanging out, working on a pitcher of beer?