Today we have a guest post from Stomper00, who invited me to last Monday’s game. He told me of his upbringing as a NRAF (non-resident Athletics fan), and I found it so compelling that I asked to him to write something about it that I could put in a guest post. I think you’ll find it interesting too.
2012 is my 25th year as an Oakland A’s fan and the start of my first year as a resident of the Bay Area. I was born and raised in the LA area and for the last five years I lived in Orange County. I knew that I loved baseball once I started playing in little leagues but I never grew up as a fan of the Dodgers or Angels because they never really appealed to me for some reason. In 1985, shortly after I started playing baseball, I started to collect baseball cards like most kids. It was a cool way to learn the sport, and where the other teams were located. Plus it was a sneaky way to score a stick of gum. During the 1987 season, I accumulated quite a few cards so I started to organize them by team. There was pretty much an equal distribution of cards for each team except for one, the Oakland A’s. For whatever reason, I had a significantly greater amount of A’s cards than any other team. At the same time, I also noticed that their team colors were not like everyone else, with their standard green and gold colors. So I decided that I was going to be an Oakland A’s fan because they were different. The timing was perfect too; the A’s started to dominate MLB shortly thereafter.
In 1988 I was kind of excited to see the Dodgers in the World Series against the Athletics. Game one was a game that I would never forget. We had a family gathering at my parent’s house and I was playing hide-and-seek outside with my cousins while my uncles were watching the game. I really wasn’t paying too much attention to the game but I would check in every so often to find out the score or to watch the Dodgers come up to bat. I came in just in time to see Kirk Gibson hit that infamous home run and I was jumping up and down in excitement because I was rooting for the home team. That’s when one of my uncles said “Hey, I thought you were and Athletics fan.” I replied “No, I’m an A’s fan.” He started laughing and said, “They are the same team!”…I went from pure joy to confusion, shock, anger, and sadness in a matter of minutes. I never realized that the A’s and Athletics were one and the same. All the baseball cards I collected at the time said “A’s” on the cards. I had a few “Athletics” cards but I just filed them away with the rest of my other non-A’s cards. At the time, there was no Internet or MLB packages on TV to watch out of market games, so my only exposure to A’s info was the league standings in the LA Times or whenever they came to town to play the Angels. Even today whenever I see that Gibson home run I can still feel that emotional rollercoaster inside me.
I’ve seen the A’s countless times in Anaheim since 1989, but I never got a chance to see a game at the Coliseum before Mount Davis was built, it’s something that I’ll always regret. I told myself that once I was old enough I would drive up to Oakland to watch a game to cheer for my team. My first A’s game in Oakland was Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS where Derek Jeter made that crazy play. It was a really cool experience; I woke up around 4:30am for no reason on game day thinking that I should be at the game so I got ready and drove up to Oakland with nothing planned out. Once I arrived, I got a hotel room near by and scalped a ticket to get in. I was in awe because I was finally in a place where there’s so many A’s fans and I could feel comfortable cheering for my team, to be in a place where so much history took place, and finally a place where I could stock up on A’s gear. Being from SoCal, it’s pretty hard to find anything A’s related. It would have been a perfect day if only Jeremy tried to slide home. Since 2001 I’ve been to 45 home games, sometimes with friends but mostly solo. I’ve even drove up a few times for afternoon games and drove back home to SoCal immediately after the game was over and would listen to Chris Townsend at the start of my long drive home until I lost the signal. Unfortunately the signal usually lasted about 15-20 minutes for me. Now that I actually live here, I’ll be at the majority of the games during the season.
Most of the games I’ve been to were generally sell-outs because it was either a playoff game or there was some special event or giveaway at the game. I know that I’m an exception to the rule, but I never really understood why attendance was/is low at the Coliseum. You can say its ownership (Maybe, but I disagree for the most part), the Coliseum (One day we will all miss her), the team on the field (We’ve had some great ones) or anything really but does it really matter? This is our team and it’s our responsibility to support them through think and thin! When I hear that some people don’t want to drive 40 miles to see a game I roll my eyes…try 830 miles round trip! I hate seeing a division within the A’s fan base because of the stadium situation. Personally, I would love nothing more for the A’s to stay in Oakland but given the possible scenario of the team moving to San Jose or moving out of state, which would you rather have? It took me 22 years to find my way up here and the last thing I want is for my team to move out of the Bay Area! They say you never know what you have until you lose it, I know what I have now that live here and will cherish every moment until the stadium decision is made. I only wish that everyone else could see it like me.
Go A’s, Go Athletics!!!