The greatest long ball sluggers for the Athletics from Philadelphia to Oakland
The Athletics have been playing ball since 1901 from Philadelphia to Oakland with a pit stop in Kansas City in between. Connie Mack commanded the franchise 53 of 54 years at old Shibe Park in Philadelphia and enjoyed early success winning World Series in 1910, 1911 and 1913. Jimmie Foxx led the team to championships in 1929 and 1930. Then a financial slide sent the franchise into mediocrity with declining attendance for decades. Mack caved into reality and the team was sold.
A move to Kansas City (1955-67) failed to revive the Athletics’ fortunes. Owner Charles O. Finley relocated the franchise to Oakland in 1968 and everything changed. The Athletics became known as the A’s and a young team led by Reggie Jackson won back to back to back World Series titles (1972-74). The Bash Brothers (Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire) muscled the 1989 World Series victory. The A’s have not won a World Series since. These days Oakland is best known for general manager Billy Beane’s moneyball approach maintaining the team as a perennial division contender.
With over 110 years of history, the Athletics have enjoyed a number of Hall of Famers and superstar sluggers. However, financial woes and the free agent era have prevented any player wearing an Athletics uniform from hitting more than 363 home runs. Foxx and Jackson moved on to perform plenty of damage for other teams. The dark cloud of steroids and other enhancement supplements hang over the reputations of Canseco, McGwire, Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada.
Surprisingly neither Foxx nor Jackson reign as franchise home run leader. The title belongs toMcGwire. Big Mac slugged 363 of his 583 homers for Oakland. The UCLA graduate burst on the scene in 1987 with a league leading 49 homers and earning Rookie of the Year honors. The first baseman slugged his way through a dozen Oakland seasons (1986-97) and made the All-Star team nine times. His big numbers hit a roadblock when injuries limited him to just 18 combined home runs in 1993 and 1994. McGwire roared back with 52 in 1996 then was traded to St. Louis amidst a 58 homer 1997 season. His monster seasons (70 in 1998, 65 in 1999) came in Cardinal red. McGwire has been snubbed in Hall of Fame balloting.
Jimmie Foxx was a phenomenal baseball player totaling 534 home runs with 302 coming in Philadelphia (1925-35). Double X was the most feared hitter of his time and the stats are mind-boggling. He drove in over 100 runs 13 times. 1930 was merely a warmup with 37 homers and 156 rbi’s as Foxx was named MVP in 1932 and 1933. All he did was put up lines of .364/58/169 in 1932 and captured the Triple Crown the next year with .356/48/163. The outfielder and Mack got into a contract dispute and with the depression on, Mack could not afford to retain his top talent. Foxx was traded to the Boston Red Sox for two minor players and cash and Boston got the best of the deal. He enjoyed huge seasons for the Red Sox. Double X is the greatest player in Athletics history.
Reggie Jackson’s fame as Mr. October came in Yankee pin stripes. But his best seasons were in an Oakland uniform. The six-time A’s All-Star clubbed 269 of his 563 homers during ten Oakland seasons (1967-75,’87). The Hall of Fame outfielder became a superstar in 1969 with 47 home runs and 118 rbi’s. Jackson was the 1973 MVP (32/117) and never hit less than 23 homers in any full season during his initial Oakland stint.
Jose Canseco spent nine years in Oakland (1985-92,’97) and rang up 254 of his 462 homers. The five-time A’s All-Star was named Rookie of the Year in 1986 for 33 home runs and driving in 117 runs. Canseco was the 1988 MVP by posting a big 42/124. Regardless of his admitted enhancement use, Canseco’s power was prodigious and his career high was a league leading 44 home runs in 1991.
Bob Johnson is a long forgotten outfielder nicknamed “Indian Bob.” He was a late bloomer reaching the majors in 1937 at age 27 and proved a consistent hitter for 10 seasons (1932-42). The five-time Philadelphia All-Star drove in 100 plus runs seven consecutive seasons. Johnson hit 252 home runs for the Athletics with a high of 34 in 1934.
The game’s greatest lead off hitter Rickey Henderson played 14 of his 25 seasons in Oakland. The all-time leader in leading off games with a homer struck 167 total dingers as an A. Mickey Cochrane is a Hall of Fame catcher who was the 1928 MVP and hit 105 homers during nine Philadelphia seasons. Hall of Fame outfielder Al Simmons had the colorful moniker “Bucketfoot Al” and hit 209 of his 307 home runs in a dozen Philadelphia seasons. Simmons enjoyed some huge years at the plate notably 36 home runs and 165 rbi’s in 1930 forming a devastating one-two punch with Foxx.
The A’s won 102 games in 2001 but that was not enough to win the division because Seattle won a record 116 games. That Oakland squad boasted a muscle-bound lineup with Jason Giambi (38/120), Miguel Tejada (31/113) and Eric Chavez (32/114). Giambi exited via free agency after that season and totaled eight years in Oakland good for 198 homers. In 2000, his .333/43/137 took MVP honors. Tejada was the 2002 MVP (34/131) and took the free agent route following 2003. He hit 156 homers in seven Oakland seasons. The team spent big money to retain Chavez and the decision was fatal. His last four years in Oakland were injury riddled disasters. Chavez did hit 230 home runs during his 13-year tenure.
It is unlikely any current Oakland player will rack up that many home runs as long as the city remains financially strapped small market and the moneyball philosophy is in place.
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