Friday, October 4, 2013
July 27- Oakland Athletics
Unlike a lot of my other posts, this one I have to jump forward to the date that I’m actually posting the story as opposed to when the story takes place. It sounds confusing, but you’ll get where I’m going as you read on. I promise.
This story starts back in Buffalo, New York back on June 24th on Day 2 of the #CrewEra13’s trip to New Era headquarters. On of the highlights of our trip came during one of the focus group sessions when we were given a sneak peak on some of the Turn Back the Clock caps they were introducing for the 2013 season. One or two of the ones they had shown had already been worn; however, there were still about 10 more that hadn’t. The feeling that we all shared was the closest to getting presents from Santa Claus on Christmas. I could see one cap of a Kelley green variety deep inside the box and my mouth began to salivate more and more as one of the members of the marketing team drew closer to it. In a heartbeat, the moment this cap hit the table shifted my attitude shifted from curiosity to lust.
I know I’m talking about a hat, but this is a thing of beauty. The design team at New Era did a fantastic job bringing this baby back to life, but with a modern touch. From 1968-1969 the newly located Oakland Athletics wore this cap for all of their home and away games. The only difference between then and now is that the logo on the cap back then was a bit skinnier…
Another cool thing about this time period is that the players and managers wore different colored hats, one of the only times in Major League history in which such a uniform difference occurred in the modern era.
But getting back to Buffalo, I didn’t care how much it was going to cost, I wanted this hat. The unfortunate part is that they didn’t have it for sale down in the Flagship Store; otherwise I would have made it my first purchase. Instead, I just took pictures with my new friend and reluctantly slid it down the table for the other guys to take a peek at.
At the time I didn’t know what we were allowed to post on social media so I kept most of these photos a secret until after the game in which the A’s wore these caps were played (July 27th). Well, not too long after we got back from Buffalo one of the premier New Era Cap selling Web sites, Hat Club, posted them up. I was broke at the time with a paycheck coming in three short days. I also owed fellow #CrewEra13 member Chris Cornolo (@ccornolo) the cap after he had purchased and shipped out a Milwaukee Brewers cap I had been trying to track down. So, when the time came and I got the money into my bank account I went straight to the Hat Club site to make my purchase, or so I thought. Turns out this cap was a little bit more popular than anyone expected as EVERY 1969 A’s on the site had been sold. I was befuddled. I searched around on other sites keeping up the hope that I would be able to find it somewhere, if not just for Chris since he wears a size 8. No dice.
Weeks would go by before the caps appeared on another site, Lids and New Era. But like the previous time I didn’t have any money to purchase Chris’s size 8. And once again, as soon as I got the money into my account, they were gone. My frustration was near a boiling point if for no reason other than I just hate being in debt to people. Money-related matters is a much easier thing to be in debt to a person about as money is everywhere, but a specialty item? Good luck. I was fortunate to come across one on the MLB.com/Shop site in Chris’s size, but it’s on a 2-4 week backorder. Well, getting it order is better than anything I suppose. As for myself, I didn’t really matter as much. I held faith that more would be released down the road, but I also knew that I could pick an original one up off of one of my favorite Web sites if I wanted to. It was in this moment of acceptance that I got an email from Erin, our New Era host, saying that she had a gift for me and needed to know where to send it. This was in the middle of August, right around the time that I was packing up my stuff to move to Florida to be with Angie, so I gave her the address there. Erin said no problem and sent it out. She never told me what it was, just that it was a sample cap that happened to be lying around and she thought I might like it.
The day after I arrived in Florida there was a knock at the door in the early hours (11 AM). Angie had already gone to her rotation at the hospital so I was left to myself to look presentable and see what the commotion was about. As I opened the door a man in FedEx uniform asked if I was Benjamin and handed a small box over. All the sleepiness was washed out of my body by the surge of adrenaline that now coursed through my veins as I feverishly signed for the package, closed the door and sought out a knife to open it. As soon as I removed the tape and pulled back the flaps I achieved the biggest “hat boner” (yup, just made that up) of my life.
Not only was it the 1969 A’s cap, but it was the same one that I had fallen in love with back in Buffalo. You know that old expression “If you love something, let it go; if it comes back to you, it was mean to be?” Well… :)
When coming up with marks for this cap I decided to stick within the parameters of when it was used. Since this cap was specifically made for the “Turn Back the Clock Night” on July 27th I made sure to highlight those who truly shined, as opposed to going back in time an writing about the older generation who wore the original cap. Those guys/moments I intend to write about when I get the original cap.
#36- Some people are meant to have mediocre careers, others become superstars, some fade into obscurity and then there are some who come through in the clutch. Derek Norris’s career has been too short to really establish which type he will become; however, one thing that has been a constant is that the man knows how to play in front of a nationally televised audience.
Norris was originally drafted by the Washington Nationals in the fourth round of the 2007 amateur draft out of Goddard High School in Goddard, Kansas. From 2007-2011 Norris climbed through the ranks of the Nationals minor league system, playing his best ball with the Class-A Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League. A catcher, Norris had a hit of a challenge in front of him with the likes of Ivan Rodriguez and Wilson Ramos ahead of him in The Show, but his fortune changed two days before Christmas in 2011 as he, AJ Cole, Brad Peacock and Tommy Milone were dealt to the A’s for Gio Gonzalez and Robert Gilliam. Norris started out in AAA with the Sacramento River Cats, but impressed everyone enough to get called up to the Majors as veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki wasn’t displaying the hitter power he had in previous seasons. When Suzuki was finally dealt to the Nationals on August 3rd, Norris became the team’s full-time catcher.
There are times when Norris really shines offensively, while in other moments it’s his ability to gun would be base-stealing jabronies out with ease that show off his talent. Either way, he has become a pivotal member of the American League West Champion A’s system. But hey, I was talking about being clutch a little bit ago, so let’s just stick to that. Someone I regularly talk to on Twitter, a San Francisco Giants fan named Joseph Canino (@CiNDER_JOE), had asked me after the “Turn Back the Clock” game about Norris’s numbers during nationally televised games. So, as soon as I got home and onto my computer I took to the stat sheets. The numbers were surprising to say the least: in six regular season nationally televised games in which he has played in he is batting .352 with three home runs, a double and six RBI. That’s pretty damn impressive, especially since on July 27th his one an only at-bat was a pinch hit home run which ended up being the difference maker in the game. Clutch!!!
57: The man to get the start for the A’s on July 27th just so happened to be the man who traveled to the West Cost with Norris in the Nationals trade, Tommy “Machine Gun” Milone. Milone was drafted by the Nationals in the 10th round of the 2008 amateur draft out of USC. He made five starts for the Nationals in 2011, going 1-0 with a 3.81 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 26 inning of work. But, as business goes, Milone and the gang were sent to Oakland with little-to-no expectations on the season other than to be an arm. Not being one to lay by the roadside, Milone displayed a strong presence on the mound in 2012, going 13-10 with a 3.74 ERA and 137 strikeouts. He also had one of the strongest outings of the American League Division Series in Game 2 against the Detroit Tigers. He pitched six solid innings, only allowing one earned run off of five hits while still striking out six.
Milone has been up-and-down in 2013, but he will still remain as a key component to success if the A’s wish to finally get that World Series trophy that has eluded them since the start of the 1990 season. Milone’s strongest start of the 2013 season did in fact come on July 27th against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as Milone tossed seven innings of four hit, one earned run ball, while still striking out six. The Athletics won 3-1 and the day ended with the A’s maintaining a five-game lead in the AL West.
Oh! And these were the uniforms they wore in the game. F---ing Amazin' A's!!!