Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May 21- Oakland Athletics


I should first point out that this is the one, and hopefully, only post that I’ll be writing in which I don’t actually own the cap. This Oakland Athletics cap is one of two that I’ve been trying to track down since last season with very little luck; however, it is one that I really wanted to write about so I was lucky to find someone who owned it.

This last weekend I was fortunate enough to travel down to Oakland for the Athletics’ three-game series versus the Kansas City Royals. For the last two years my friends Anson Casanares (@AnsonCasanares), Omar Gonzalez (@OmarInTheOF), Charlie Fernandez (@CharliesTheorys), James Sanos (@EastBay_Sports), Ross Retzler (@roscoe), Will MacNeil (@RFWill149), Jorge Leon (@Jorgeleon17), Quintona Branch (@Wiggi_Marley), Samuel Ligosky (@samligosky) Drew Martin (@DrewMartin6), (@TonyTwo_Tone), Andy Cho (@RFDrummer149), Dennis Biles (@Denny149), Spencer Mills, (@Sniff009), (@Lopsided50), Michael Dehl (@Dehlman1), Will Schlies and anyone else who I may have forgotten have been the official pioneers of Bacon Tuesday at the Oakland Coliseum. For those who don’t know, Bacon Tuesday started on Monday September 5, 2011. One long-standing traditions of right field is a healthy dose of banter between the crew and whomever is playing right field for the rival team. On this particular night Jeff Francoeur was the “victim.” Throughout the game jibber-jabber was exchanged back-and-forth between each party until the topic of bacon was brought up. Francoeur, a bacon lover himself, joined in with much enthusiasm. The Royals ended up winning the game 6-11, but the loss didn’t sway the attitude amongst the right field faithful. Instead, they got creative. On Tuesday the gang of roustabouts I mentioned above gathered before the game equipped with bacon-related delights. The Coliseum is one of the few places where outside food is allowed into the stadium so the right field gang packed what they could carry to enjoy during the game. After the A’s lost again 7-4 the gang met up with Frenchy over by the Royals dugout after for chatter, photos and autographs. At the end of the meet and greet Frenchy told them he’d have a surprise for them the next day, but nothing else was said beyond that to give a hint as to what it might be. Basically, everything I just tried to describe is painted more colorfully with this video: Bacon Tuesday!!!

On Wednesday the right field faithful showed up as they do to every other regular season home game awaiting their surprise. During warm-ups Frenchy called to the crowd and tossed a baseball up: Frenchy Gifts!!! It’s one thing to toss an autographed ball up; it’s a completely different thing to strap a $100 bill (which has still yet to be spent) around it for drinks on the house, a true class gesture. 

Now, I wasn’t there for either of the first two games, nor did I know any of the guys at the time, but I was in the house for the third game of that series which resulted in a 7-0 victory for Guillermo Moscoso and the Athletics. Sadly, it would be another few months before I even knew about Bacon Tuesday, but the timing on my new discovery was met with perfect timing.

During my MLB Fan Cave campaign I came across all of the videos posted to YouTube, as I’m showing you now, about Bacon Tuesday. At the time I didn’t really know much of what was going on with the fans at the Coliseum and I wanted to make some new friends, who in my opinion were way more deserving of being in the Fan Cave as the Athletics representative than myself. Nothing against myself, I think I’ve done a pretty solid job, but at the same time I can’t say that I’ve been there for as many games as any of these guys. They inspire me to be a bigger and better fan. We of course all clicked instantly; passing jokes back-and-forth to one another, cheering on our boys in green and gold, bust most of all just enjoying the game together… even if we were 3,000 miles apart.

The second Annual Bacon Tuesday was slated for April 10; a dark and dreary day in Oakland, but not for the right filed faithful who went to town on making more bacon-related wares. For this even Omar had made t-shirts for the crowd which he was nice enough to send Ricardo Marquez and me for the game. Sadly, we got them two days later on account of package delivery being rather sucky in New York City. No matter, we were both happy to get them. That night’s game was one of the few to ever get called on account of rain at the Coliseum. The Royals won 3-0 in eight innings, but Frenchy was nice enough to meet up with the gang again after the game: Bacon Tuesday, Part 2: The Revenge

Like the previous season, Frenchy kept to his word and bought Round Table mini pizzas for the crowd... and a little something extra: More Frenchy Gifts. Once again, a gesture that very few would ever do for their own fans, let alone a rival team’s fan base. I couldn’t help but think about how much of a drag it was to be stuck in New York merely watching these events unfold on TV. I knew I had to do something big to repay Omar and the gang for their hospitality, and luckily it came in the form of Frenchy himself. On Tuesday, May 22nd Bruce Chen, Aaron Crow, Brayan Pena, Billy Butler and of course Frenchy stopped by the Fan Cave before their game against the New York Yankees that night. With two days notice I sent a message to Anson and Omar to make a video for Frenchy’s arrival which they happened to make at the Athletics game the night before his arrival: Message to Frenchy.
Ricardo and I knew it would be a tragedy if we didn’t have bacon for their visit so we both had $20 worth of bacon delivered to the Fan Cave from a café three blocks away. 

With bacon in-hand we showed Frenchy the video the right field crew made and made sure to record one back for them: Message to RF Bleachers.
Three things I need to point out with this video:

1. Notice “the shark” in the background from production crew member Andrew Benestante. I never noticed that until today.

2. I’m wearing the Bacon Tuesday shirt underneath my Royals jersey.

3. Jeff Francoeur stuck to his word.

Getting down to Oakland was a huge priority for me. Any other game this season I could have totally lived with missing, but the Third Annual Bacon Friday (Sponsored by Bacon Tuesday) was one I truly would have regretted had I missed. Unless you follow me on Twitter most of you don’t know how close I was to missing this. Air travel was too expensive and taking the train or bus was way too much of a hassle. Someone had suggested that I hit up Craigslist for a rideshare down to the Bay which I quickly dismissed. Who was to say that I wasn’t going to be murdered and left in a ditch? With my options running short I decided to take the Craigslist route. Oddly enough I was able to lock up a ride in less than an hour with a group of hippies who were heading down for the weekend as well. Plus, it only cost me a tank of gas ($34), I dare you to beat that price. Another thing that I should point out is that I kept selling the idea that I was going to miss out on the event. I really wanted it to be more of a surprise… which I inevitably blew on account that the first tweet I sent when I got to San Francisco had the location tagged on it. Oops! With the cat out of the bag Vanessa Demske (@vdemske) and I headed out Oakland and arrived at the Coliseum around 3:00 PM with beer, pickles, ketchup and mustard in tow. If anything, I really wish I had the money to bring down two dozen bacon maple bars from Voodoo Doughnut. Drat!

It’s pretty amazing what some people can do with bacon and an imagination; the most spectacular of which was the bacon loaf with consisted of a cream cheese core, pork sausage and bacon wrapped around it. Other notables included bacon cup cakes, tacos in which the shell is bacon strips, chicken drumsticks wrapped in bacon, and on and on. There comes a point when you’re eating all of this that you SHOULD worry about your heart exploding, but this day was not that day. 

In keeping with the theme of last season Omar had more shirts made to toast the occasion. Around 5:00 PM the master of ceremonies, Frenchy, made his way into section A4 of the parking lot. Now, I’m still incredibly miffed as I took well over 30 photos and not a single one of them saved to my phone, so everything I have I pilfered from others who were there. Sorry guys. Frenchy made sure to give anyone who asked a photo, sign autographs for the younglings and even take part in a game or two of corn hole and Battle Shots with Sara Dunaway (@BARThaiku). 

For a guy who isn’t even part of our team to be so beloved is really saying a lot.

Anson, Omar and the gang made sure to pack away enough treats for Frenchy and his buddies in the clubhouse, but the really unfortunate part of the day was that he had the day off as David Lough started in his place. Our praises would have to wait until the next night. Before he headed back inside Frenchy did his best to thank everyone individually and even gave a special public service announcement to those who didn’t make it out: A Message from Our Sponsor. With a jovial smile affixed to his face and a box of goodies under his arm he was off. We all went back to business, completely mesmerized by what had just taken place. Just as we were coming down from our high Josh Reddick came out of nowhere and joined in on the fun as well. 

Needless to say, it was a crazy day in the parking lot. Being able to finally be a part of this tradition is one of the biggest highlights of not only being an A’s fan, but for having such incredible, caring friends. It’s a very rare thing for fans to transcend the game and become just as much of a draw as the players, but in right field of the Coliseum it’s just another day at the ballpark.

 On to the hat: I didn’t come across this cap until the end of the third game of the series in which the Athletics were able to get a nice little three-game sweep under their belt. I was finishing up with my round of goodbyes to everyone when fellow Athletics Fan Cave hopeful Taylor Hensely (@TaylorAHensley) popped over to cut it up with us. Taylor had come with her family so we walked back over to the area where they were parked to hang out and chat for a bit. Throughout the conversation I noticed that her younger brother Hunter was running around with this hat on his head. I was a bit gloomy about it considering the fact that he’s actually a San Francisco Giants fan. Either way I snatched it from off of his head and boxed him out as I took photos for this post before handing it back over. He wears a size 7 while I wear a 7 3/8, which will help explain why it’s sitting on my head as awkwardly as it is. The one downside of this is that I wasn’t able to mark any numbers or names on it; however, what’s to stop me from coming up with some ideas in case I am able to track one down ever?

I still have another Athletics Stars and Stripes hat to write about on Memorial Day, so I’ll hold off on writing about their past games and such until then. I think I’ve been blatherskithing on long enough with this post.

TB- On September 2, 1871 Thomas Berry played in one game for the Philadelphia Athletics in the National Association. Berry went 1-4 with a single, but very little is mentioned aside from that about his baseball career.

If you couldn’t tell by the date Berry fought for the North in the US Civil War. This is an excerpt from SABR’s research project about Berry and other men who were enlisted during this time. In 1864, Grant’s army in Virginia had suffered horrendous casualties and Jubal Early’s Confederates were in the middle of a raid that took them to the gates of Washington DC and Baltimore and had even penetrated into southern Pennsylvania. In response, the government issued a call for 100 days’ regiments, most of which came from Pennsylvania and the affected areas. These short-duty volunteers were originally sent to threatened Baltimore, and after that threat subsided they ended up guarding bridges and prisoners, mostly in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The 192nd-197th Pennsylvania volunteer regiments were among the respondents, and they included a disproportionate number of ballplayers, including many members of the Philadelphia Athletics. One of them was Thomas Berry, who enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant on July 15, 1864, and was commissioned in Company A, 197th Infantry Regiment Pennsylvania. He was mustered out on November 11, 1864, in Philadelphia. The ballplayer died in June of 1915 and his wife filed for a widow’s pension the following month. Her application is difficult to read, but appears to list the 197th as one of his regiments, along with another, unreadable one.

2 comments:

  1. Berry played in one game on September 2, 1871 (source: BaseballReference.com)

    Frenchy is awesome, and would definitely welcome him to the A's anytime!

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