The Oakland A’s First Game

Here, from the San Francisco Chronicle, are a couple images of the A’s playing their first game, on April 10, 1968. It was in Baltimore, against the Orioles: a 3-1 defeat.

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This is Joe DiMaggio, new coach and vice president for the A’s, appearing in uniform before the Baltimore crowd:

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The Chronicle’s story noted that “the A’s have assigned catcher Dave Duncan, pitcher Gil Blanco and outfield Joe Rudi to Vancouver.” Sal Bando’s centerfield fly ball with the bases loaded ended the game. Catfish Hunter lost the game, pitching six innings, allowing two runs, and striking out three. He was about a month away from throwing a perfect game. Reggie Jackson, technically a rookie, hit a homer to start the eighth inning, but it was his second MLB homer, not his first. Sal Bando and Bert Campaneris are the two other A’s names that stand out in the box score. Dave Johnson, the eventual Mets manager, hit a double to score the Orioles’ second run.

And, to give a sense of the times, some lines from the Chronicle: “Don Buford, given a starting chance after Mark Brlanger was called for National Guard duty, starred at bat and in the field yesterday.. . . Tonight’s scheduled Oriole-A’s game was postponed because of the racial unrest here. (The Chronicle’s referring to rioting after Martin Luther King was killed in Memphis on April 4.)”

And for some local color from the Chronicle: the Giants started their 1968 season at Candlestick by beating Tom Seaver and the Mets, 5-4, with a three-run bottom of the ninth. Willie McCovey hit a homer, and both Seaver and Juan Marichal got no decisions. The picture you see above Joe D. is of Nate Oliver joyously sliding home in the ninth with the winning run for the Giants in their opener.

Also, a sports column by Ron Fimrite talked about S.F. raconteur Sam Cohen closing his Sam’s Lane Club:

It was Sam who . . . first launched the ‘Help Sam Stamp Out Candlestick Park’ campaign. Sam, in fact, began his siege of that beleaguered edifice while it was still under construction . . . . Sam’s objections to our ballpark are not, of course, founded on a solely altruistic base. Naturally, as a humanist, he is concerned about the frequently appalling shortage of creature comforts in the wind-swept stadium.But he equally deplores its location–on the outer edge of the city, far from such business establishments as Sam’s Lane Club.

By the way, in their sole season in an American League not split into divisions, the Oakland A’s went 82-80, good for sixth in the A.L., and drew 837,466 to the Coliseum. Many of the A’s who would take part in the ’71 to ’75 dynasty were on this team, which had no player over 32. Reggie Jackson, with his 29 homers, was the only A with more than 9 dingers. Some other players on the ’68 team: Tony La Russa, Dave Duncan, Rollie Fingers, Blue Moon Odom, Rene Lachemann, Joe Rudi, Rick Monday.

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