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While it's hard to imagine dismissing them now, there was a time when the Oakland Athletics were looked at as nothing more than a flash-in-the-pan. Originally hailing from Philadelphia, the club was glibly referred to as "The White Elephants" by New York Giants manager John McGraw in 1902, but the insult became a rallying cry for the young franchise. Athletics skipper Connie Mack made the elephant a symbol, and his team responded by taking World Series titles in 1910, 1911, and 1913.
With future Hall of Famers such as Lefty Grove and Jimmie Foxx leading the charge, the A's would capture world championships in 1929 and '30 to firmly establish the team as one of the best in the game. The organization would call Kansas City home for a few years, but in 1968, pro baseball in Oakland was born.
Already armed with promising stars-in-the-making such as slugger Reggie Jackson and lights-out pitcher Catfish Hunter, the Athletics arrived in the Bay Area and hit the ground running. At just 22, Hunter tossed a perfect game during that inaugural season in Oakland. The following year, Jackson began to emerge as one the all-time great run producers in the sport. In 1972, everything clicked for the club as Oakland cruised to the Fall Classic, setting off a streak of three consecutive world championships. While both stalwarts would leave the team shortly thereafter, a new hero appeared.
With a name befitting his superhuman prowess, "The Man of Steal" Rickey Henderson signed with the club in 1976, and in his first full campaign broke the American League record for most stolen bases in a season. Two years later, he would shatter the major league record. Often referred to as "the greatest leadoff hitter of all time," Henderson was traded to New York in 1984 but returned to Oakland in 1989, just in time to lead the A's to World Series glory once again.
Known now as Oc.o Coliseum, the stadium in Oakland hasn't just served as the home to A's; it's also been a launching pad for celebrities. Cookie maven Mrs. Fields, '90s hip-hop phenom MC Hammer, and A-list actor Tom Hanks all got their start working at the Coliseum. The team's official mascot, Stomper, arrived in 1997 and became the only elephant in the room that Bay Area fans were concerned about.
The ascent and perseverance of the Athletics throughout the years feels like a Hollywood fable, so it's fitting that the organization would become the inspiration for the 2003 bestseller and 2011 blockbuster, Moneyball. When the general manager of your team is portrayed by one of the most handsome men in show business, clearly, you're doing something right. Off-field triumphs like this are nice, but for Bay Area fans, it's still all about the product on the field. Immortalized both on the silver screen and in the halls of Cooperstown, the Athletics possess a staying power that has proven the naysayers wrong, time and time again.