This is the most complete record book ever written about the Athletics franchise; it is the only one that includes every season and career record of every player in the club’s history. Beginning in the first year of play (1901), every record in batting, pitching, and fielding are listed in chronological order up to the present day. Rookie and managers’ records are also included.
Unlike typical record books, which eliminate old records when new ones are established, this book simply adds new records to existing chronology lists. In this way no players or their records are ever forgotten and the history of club records may forever be preserved.
This book is unique because it introduces three never-before-seen features. Since records are posted in chronological order, they are easy to count. Now for the first time we learn which players have established the most records. This information appears at the end of each chapter on a “Record Holders List.” Even players with a single record are represented on this list.
The second new feature is the development of individual players’ “Record Profiles.” The team’s greatest players are honored by placing their records in individual profiles so a fan can easily access the accomplishments of the club’s most productive “Record Setters and Record Breakers.” This profile includes every record, how many years each record stood before being broken, and the names of the players who have broken their records. Nothing could be more complete and informative.
The third new feature is the introduction of individual players’ “Claims to Fame” profiles. This is an extension of the “Record Profile” but includes every feat which has made a player famous, such as getting 3000 hits or 500 home runs. Did you know that Jimmie Foxx has 23 club records and 128 claims to fame? This book reveals every one of them.
To understand the chronology lists, the evolution of the season home run record will be used as an example.
The chronology list shows that Nap Lajoie was the club’s first home run champion in 1901 with 14 runs. In 1902, Socks Seybold broke Lajoie’s record by hitting 16 home runs. It would be 18 years before Seybold’s record would be broken by Tilly Walker, who hit 17 home runs in 1920. Then Walker became the only two-time record breaker by breaking his own record in 1921. He subsequently became the only three-time home run champion in 1922 when he belted a phenomenal 37 home runs. (Ken Williams led the AL that year with 39 and Babe Ruth was third with 35.)
Ten years later, the great Jimmie Foxx would challenge Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs. He fell two short, but established a new club record which has not been broken to this day. Chronology lists are developed in this fashion for every category of batting, pitching, and fielding. All the team’s information is presented completely and informatively. The chronology lists are easy to read and often provide new information, such as the fact that Tilly Walker established three home run records and is the only one to do so. In no other publication can one find records presented with this format.
The history of the Athletics in Philadelphia is in effect the story of Connie Mack’s post-playing career. Mack was a major figure, along with Ban Johnson and Charlie Comiskey, in founding the American League. Mack had managed the Milwaukee franchise of the league in 1900, before the AL declared itself a major league. President Ban Johnson asked Mack if he would lead the new Philadelphia franchise, which would be in head-to-head competition with the NL’s Phillies. Mack was given a quarter ownership of the Athletics and would eventually become the majority owner in 1940, and from the start he was the architect of the franchise’s growth and development into a league powerhouse. His 50-year tenure as manager of the club has never been equaled.
The Athletics lost the services of superstar Nap Lajoie after the Phillies, whose property he had been before jumping to the AL, obtained a court order prohibiting him from playing in Pennsylvania (unless for the Phillies, of course). For the good of the AL, he was transferred to the Cleveland club. But the Athletics nonetheless became league champions the next year (1902), and again in 1905, with the aid of the league’s best offense led by Topsey Hartsel, Lave Cross, and Socks Seybold, and the outstanding pitching of Rube Waddell, by far the best pitcher in the league both seasons. Contending most of the time, the team won back-to-back pennants in 1910-11 and again in 1913-14, with the Hall of Fame talents of Eddie Collins and Home Run Baker, Eddie Plank, Chief Bender, and Herb Pennock, as well as Jack Coombs and Bob Shawkey. In three of those years they also won the World Series, but following their upset by the Braves in 1914, Mack broke up the team rather than continue to fight the newly formed Federal League for the services of his stars. With most of the Hall of Famers gone, the A’s lost a record 117 games in 1916 and didn’t finish above .500 until 1925. By then, Mack had rebuilt his team and they became contenders again. Led by Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane, and Lefty Grove, this new dynasty won three straight pennants and two World Series.
However, the Depression took its toll and once again Mack had to sell off his stars following the 1932 season. From
1935 to 1946, the A’s would finish last nine times. It looked like Mack was building a new contender following WWII, but it was not to be. In 1946, the aging skipper divided his club shares among his three children, and he increasingly relied on right-hand man Jimmy Dykes in the dugout. After the rebuilding plan collapsed into another last-place finish in 1950 following three seasons above .500, Mack’s sons forced him into retirement. After another last-place finish in 1954, Mack’s sons sold out to Arnold Johnson and the franchise, following the example of the Braves, moved west, taking up business in Kansas City.
Charlie Finley moved the A’s to Oakland in 1968, hoping to duplicate the Western success stories of the Dodgers, Giants, and Angels. Attendance in Kansas City was bad for the most obvious reason: the A’s finished in last place in three of the previous four seasons.
The team won in Oakland, but success at the gate was still elusive. Although the farm system was delivering stars each season and the club won five straight division titles beginning in 1971, home attendance didn’t pass one million until 1973. It dropped back to six figures the following season, even as the A’s won three consecutive World Series.
Finley certainly did everything he could to get attention for his team: procuring orange baseballs, a wide variety of multi-colored uniforms, some assigned to specific days of the week; Herb Washington, the pinch-running specialist; changing a constant procession of managers and fights with managers; encouraging players to grow mustaches; and encouraging colorful stars such as Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, and Rollie Fingers.
But competing with the Giants across the bay for customers, the team just couldn’t draw. In the face of free agency’s higher costs and a roster full of stars who disliked Finley and saw their chance to escape, Finley dismantled the team as much as Commissioner Bowie Kuhn would let him. He sold it after the club remained very competitive under manage Art Howe, who led them to three straight divisional titles from 2000 to 2002, and they continued winning under new manager Ken Macha in 2003.
From beginning to the present, the A’s franchise has been one of the richest in tradition and one of the most exciting and interesting franchises in baseball history.