The Oakland Athletics (often abbreviated to Oakland A′s) are a professional baseball team based in Oakland, California. The Athletics are a member of the West division of Major League Baseball (MLB)'s American League (AL). The Athletics have played in the Oakland Coliseum since moving to Oakland in 1968. Overall, the A's have won nine World Series championships, the third-highest total in Major League Baseball (trailing only the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals).
The "Athletics" name originates from the late 19th century "athletic clubs", specifically the Philadelphia Athletics baseball club. They are popularly nicknamed "the A's", in reference to the Gothic script "A", a trademark of the team and the old Athletics of Philadelphia. They are also known as "the White Elephants" or simply "the Elephants", in reference to then-New York Giants' manager John McGraw's calling the team a "white elephant". This was embraced by the team, who then made the team's mascot a white elephant, and often incorporated it into the logo or sleeve patches. During the team's 1970s heyday, management often referred to the team as The Swingin' A's, referencing both their prodigious power and to connect the team with the growing disco culture.
One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1901 as the Philadelphia Athletics. The team had some prominent success in Philadelphia, winning three of four World Series from 1910 to 1913 and two in a row in 1929 and 1930. The team's owner and manager for its first 50 years was Connie Mack, and its Hall-of-Fame players included Chief Bender, Frank "Home Run" Baker, Jimmie Foxx, and Lefty Grove. After two decades of decline, however, the team left Philadelphia for Kansas City in 1955 and became the Kansas City Athletics.
After 13 mostly uneventful seasons in the Midwest, the team moved to Oakland in 1968. There a dynasty soon emerged, with three World Championships in a row from 1972 to 1974 led by players including Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, ace reliever Rollie Fingers, and colorful owner Charlie O. Finley. After being sold by Finley to Walter A. Haas, Jr., the team eventually won three consecutive pennants and the 1989 World Series behind the "Bash Brothers", Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, as well as Hall-of-Famers Dennis Eckersley and Rickey Henderson. In more recent years, the A's have often been playoff contenders but have not returned to the World Series since 1990. In 2002, the Athletics won 20 games in a row, which broke an American League record, as shown in the film Moneyball. The movie, and the book from which the movie was derived, showcased how the A's were able to compete and thrive despite their financial limitations.
By Dean Hanley