Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oakland A's 40th Anniversary: Inaugural Program

Today's blog is a slight departure from my usual Rickey Henderson related posts. On top of being a Rickey Henderson collector, in case you didn't already figure it out, I'm also a really big Oakland A's fan. The A's have been celebrating their 40th year in Oakland all season long, and since today is the season finale, I thought I'd share a program that I have from that first year.

This is a 1968 A's "Premiere Yearbook," which my Dad purchased at a game that year (and thankfully saved and passed along to me), for the bargain price of $0.75. You've just got to love that Oakland font!

When the A's came to Oakland in 1968, Joe Dimaggio was actually their Vice-President and Coach. Not a bad guy to have helping out some of their younger guys!

Catfish was still at the beginning of his Hall of Fame career in 1968, after entering the Majors without playing any Minor League ball. He threw a perfect game on May 8, 1967, the first in the American League since 1962.

Here's a real young Tony LaRussa, way before he would go on to manage the A's to a World Series title.

With the first pick of the 1966 free agent draft, the A's chose Reggie Jackson, who received an $80,000 signing bonus. What a steal! I just love the picture of Reggie at the top, it's just a classic baseball shot. It almost looks like a painting, and due to the poor quality of some of the photos, it just might be.

The A"s had a pretty good group of "future prospects" in 1968, with Rolland Fingers (aka Rollie) obviously being the cream of the crop. Rene Lachemann, another future A's coach, and Vida Blue are also included.

Compared to the ridiculously large LCD screen that will be installed at the new Yankee Stadium, this seem a little outdated, but this is a pretty interesting article about the "world's first computer controlled scoreboards." The left field scoreboard was actually the "largest animation board in the world," and both boards can be "revised as action occurs on the field." I bet this was a pretty big deal at the time!

Charlie Finley is known for his outlandish stunts, with one of his most popular being the A's mascot, "Charlie O" the mule.

Speaking of outlandish stunts, the A's had a "Farmer's Night" featuring a hog-calling contest, cow milking, and even a greasy pig contest. I bet the umpire felt a little silly getting his new baseballs from a pop-up Bugs Bunny. I wonder how long that lasted, and how often it actually worked.

Last, but certainly not least, is one of the many interested advertisements that were included in the program. The old ads in magazines are usually one of my favorite parts. This one is for KBHK TV Channel 44, promoting "25 televised A's games this season from every American League in color!"

The games were in color, but unfortunately, other than the front and back covers, the rest of the program is in black in white. In 1968 the A's were only a few years away from back-to-back-to-back titles, and have only have one World Championship since then. It's definitely time for another one!

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