The A’s had a remarkable dynasty in the early 1970’s. Recently, three stars from that dynasty passed, a big loss in Oakland A’s history.
As if the news of the Oakland Athletics’ potential relocation to Las Vegas was not enough of a loss for fans, over these past few months, the team lost three notable names in Oakland history. All three were key pieces from the Swingin’ A’s Dynasty of the early 1970’s.
On May 15, the team announced that for the remainder of the season they would wear patches on their jerseys. These patches honor both the recently deceased Vida Blue and Sal Bando. Could honoring these legends help turn the fortunes of the team around? Last season, the A’s honored another member of the 70’s dynasty in catcher and longtime broadcaster Ray Fosse.
As Oakland A’s baseball may be coming to an unceremonious end, it is important to look back at one of the most historic teams of all time. While the game of baseball has seen its share of memorable dynasties, no team apart from the New York Yankees managed to win three straight World Series titles. Between 1972-1974, the A’s did just that.
While the Bay Area has seen its fair share of championships, no team innovated winning like the 70’s A’s. These marked the first championships that any Bay Area sports team won. Here is a look at the recent legends whose chapters in Oakland A’s history recently came to an end.
Just weeks ago, Blue was out walking out on the field and celebrating at the 50th anniversary reunion of the 1973 team. Known for a blazing fastball and intimidating leg kick, few pitchers accomplished so much early in their careers like Blue. In 1971, he had as good a season as any pitcher could ask for. The 21-year-old finished with an incredible 1.82 ERA in 312 innings. He pitched eight shutouts and earned not only Cy Young but MVP honors.
Following that season, he helped lead the A’s to their titles. This run included a memorable 1973 campaign where he posted 20 wins and finished 7th in Cy Young voting. In the first of the three titles in 1972, Blue was effective out of the bullpen. He earned a save in the deciding Game Five of the American League Championship and in Game One of the World Series.
On top of his decorated resume on the field, Blue was known for his cool composure everywhere he went. This came despite the plethora of drama in the clubhouse and with the team’s ownership at the time. On May 6, it was announced that Blue died of medical complications likely stemming from cancer.
The Swingin’ A’s were full of Hall of Famers and clutch stars, but the captain of it all was third baseman Mr. Sal Bando. Leading the league with 33.0 WAR from 1969-1973 according to MLB Network, Bando was a staple. He appeared in all 162 regular season games three times in his career, including the 1973 championship season. During all three championship years, Bando was an All-Star and finished within the top five in MVP voting two of the years.
“We all knew Sal was the leader.” said A’s Hall of Fame outfielder Reggie Jackson, according to the book Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic: Reggie, Rollie Catfish, and Charlie Finley’s Swinin’ A’s. Manager Dick Williams used Bando to help with mound visits because he was a mentor and valued voice to his teammates.
It was his ability to lead as captain that ultimately made him one of the most important players in A’s history. He was one of the better third basemen in the league and deserves another look on a Hall of Fame committee.
Fosse joined the team via trade from the Cleveland Indians in 1973. Since then, no one has been more synonymous with the franchise. As a catcher, Fosse was known for his defensive prowess and won two Gold Gloves in Cleveland. Fosse also made a key contribution offensively with a home run in the deciding Game Five of the 1974 World Series. This series solidified the dynasty. He was also known for his competitiveness and toughness on the field.
After 12 years in the big leagues (three in Oakland), Fosse joined the A’s broadcast booth. He became known for a bear claw handshake among colleagues and for embracing each catcher who came in as a part of the family. For over 30 years, Fosse lent a memorably calm and composed tone, while sharing his baseball expertise as the color commentator. Whenever a big moment came however, Fosse did not hide his enthusiasm. He passed on October 13, 2021, but continued to broadcast up until the end after a 16-year fight with cancer. Last year the A’s honored Fosse with a microphone patch on their jerseys.
It is important for the team to keep the legacy alive of these three players. They were not only huge in Oakland history but baseball history too.
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