For all of my Bay Area life I’ve been a San Francisco Giants baseball fan, but their season ended in August this year. The Oakland Athletics are still in the playoff running, and last night I had a chance to check out a game at the Oakland Coliseum. Unfortunately, the A’s lost, but it was still a fun night. The Coliseum is the fifth oldest baseball stadium in the Major Leagues and has a lot of history, some of which I was able to be there for.
The top photo is heading into the ballpark across the bridge that carries passengers from BART to the Coliseum. When you’re at this point you’re heading straight toward the back of the infamous “Mount Davis”. Mount Davis was the monstrosity that Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders at the time, had built to accommodate the return of his football team back to Oakland in 1995 and forever changed the baseball field. It also replaced the bleachers that were there up until then and seen in the bottom photo from the 1980’s.
In evening games long ago, the pretty view of the east side Oakland hills changed colors as the sun went down. Today, you get a golden view of Mt. Davis at sunset. Al Davis bailed out on his Oakland fans in 1981, and then bailed out on his Los Angeles fan base in 1995. Now his son, Mark Davis, will be bailing out on the loyal Oakland Raider fans who forgave his dad 23 years ago. After the Raiders leave for Las Vegas, I think they should blow Mt. Davis up and restore the baseball park to the way it was.
Our seats last night lined up pretty close to this early 1990’s game view. I love AT&T Park, but the Oakland Coliseum is a great place to watch a baseball game for half the price of the Giants ball yard.
Charles O. Finley, who owned the Oakland Athletics from 1960 to 1980, came up with some of the craziest ideas to promote games, like painting the baseballs used in the game yellow. The top photo was from a 1971 “Hot Pants Day” where girls in “hot pants” got in free. The bottom photo was taken during a “Bald-head Day in the 1970’s when bald or balding men were let in free. That’s Charlie O’s mascot mule. (SF Chronicle)
This is a great shot of Ken Stabler throwing a touchdown pass for the Raiders on his way down in a 1974 game against the Miami Dolphins. (SF Chronicle)
In July of 1978, the Rolling Stones played to a crowd of over 64,000 people for “A Day on the Green” on Mick Jagger’s 34th birthday. (SF Chronicle)
Balloons being released during the Rolling Stones 1978 concert over the bleachers where Mt. Davis is now: (SF Chronicle.)
I think MVP Baseball is the best video baseball game. I used to play that for hours. If you get enough points you can play baseball games in classic baseball parks, such as Ebbets Field or the Polo Grounds. Now, I guess, they also have the old Oakland Coliseum before Mt. Davis. Imagine that!
In 1997, interleague baseball play during the regular season was introduced. I was at the first interleague season game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics held at the Oakland Coliseum. They had played In July that year at Candlestick, but this was the first one in Oakland. On September 1st 1997, I was in Section 218, Row 2, Seat 19, when Barry Bonds hit a foul ball back behind home plate. I was looking around the stadium through mini binoculars and not paying attention to the game when the ball hit me in the stomach. It didn’t hurt much, but it left a bruise larger than the baseball. I remember a ton of people climbing all over me to get the ball that fell down by my feet, but my brother sitting next to me snagged it and gave it to me figuring that earned it. I’ve still got the ball and the fading ticket, as well.