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Baseball Analysis  Bruce Markusen's Page


By Bruce Markusen

Author of "The Orlando Cepeda Story"

DATE: 07/08

            With Vida Blue seemingly light years away from his 1971 peak and American League neophyte Ken Holtzman suddenly struggling in his last two starts, it appears that Jim “Catfish” Hunter has regained leadership of the Oakland A’s’ starting rotation. Pitching his second consecutive shutout and reaching the double-figure mark in victories, Hunter hurled the A’s to a 7-0 whitewash of the Brewers. Hunter allowed five hits, walked only one, and reached the 10-strikeout plateau in thoroughly baffling the Brewer bats. The dominating performance puts Hunter at 10-and-4, bringing him within one victory of Holtzman’s team lead in wins this season.

            Oakland’s inconsistent offense broke through in the third, sixth, and eighth innings in supporting Hunter’s latest gem. The A’s banged out 13 hits, including four home runs, with the quartet of long balls accounting for all of the scoring.  Joe Rudi’s two-run shot in the third gave the A’s an early advantage; back-to-back blows by Sal Bando and Mike Epstein doubled the score in the sixth; and Dave Duncan’s three-run blast in the eight rounded out the run-scoring. Epstein now has 14 home runs, Duncan has 12, and Bando and Rudi have hit eight apiece.


A’s Acorns: Epstein added a double as part of a 3-for-4 effort. The hulking first baseman, who calls himself “Super Jew,” has played his best ball of the season since the A’s acquired Orlando Cepeda from the Atlanta Braves. Manager Dick Williams had planned to platoon Cepeda and Epstein, but has not started Cepeda in a single game since his acquisition on June 29… Rudi, Duncan, and Campy Campaneris all enjoyed two-hit days. Campaneris has now hit in 15 straight games, bringing him within two of Rudi’s franchise record, set earlier in the season… With the exception of Hunter, every one of the A’s’ starters had at least one hit.


DATE: 07/09

            At the start of the spring training, the A’s hoped that at least one of their two comebacking right-handers—Chuck Dobson or Blue Moon Odom—could make a successful return and fill out a rotation that lacked a proven third or fourth starter. Dobson hasn’t been able to throw a single pitch this regular season, but Odom may have arrived all the way back. The talented right-hander tamed the Brewers on five hits today, coming within out of a complete-game shutout. In picking up his fourth straight win, Odom ended up allowing one run—and needed last-second relief help from Rollie Fingers—but still pitched superbly in Oakland’s 3-1 victory at the Coliseum.

            Odom retired 22 consecutive batters in one stretch, stirring memories of the flair with which he pitched in 1968 and ’69, before arm woes began to slow him in 1970. Perhaps even more impressively, the usually wild Odom did not issue a single walk to the Brewers (though he did hit one batter), as he picked up his seventh win in nine decisions this season.

            Odom showed no signs of fatigue until the ninth. After retiring the first two batters, Odom seemed on the cusp of a shutout, but then allowed singles to George “Boomer” Scott and Johnny Briggs, followed by a run-scoring double to Dave “Daisy” May. With the tying runs on base, Dick Williams decided that Odom’s tank had run dry and summoned Rollie Fingers, who struck out former Athletic Ron Clark on four pitches to end the game.



A’s Acorns: Dave Duncan homered for a third consecutive game, giving him 13 for the season. Joe Rudi accounted for Oakland’s other runs with a third-inning, two-run double… Bill Voss made the start in right field against Milwaukee’s Jim Lonborg. It appears that Williams has settled on a strict platoon in right field, with Voss facing right-handers and Angel Mangual playing against southpaws. In the meantime, Reggie Jackson continues to see regular duty in center field.


DATE: 07/10

            Ken Holtzman and Bob Locker combined to strike out 13 Boston Red Sox, but their overall pitching wasn’t good enough to prevent a 4-2 loss at the Oakland Coliseum. The A’s held a 2-1 lead until the top of the eighth, when Holtzman gave up a two-run homer to Rico Petrocelli, his eighth of the season. Locker then came on to pitch the ninth, allowing three hits and an insurance run to close out the scoring.


A’s Acorns: A crowd of 29,943 attended the “Family Night” game, which the A’s feature on Mondays, offering an admission of half-price. The attendance figure of nearly 30,000 represents a higher total than Oakland’s three previous weekend crowds put together… In spite of gaining the victory, the Red Sox set an unwanted American League record for most strikeouts in two consecutive games. With their 13 strikeouts tonight, Red Sox batters have struck out 29 times in their last two games. California’s Nolan Ryan struck out 16 Red Sox in the previous night’s game… With a single in four at-bats, Campy Campaneris stretched his hitting streak to 17 games, tying Joe Rudi for the franchise record… Mike Epstein continues to roll, doubling in one of Oakland’s two runs in four at-bats… Holtzman was unusually wild for a second straight game, surrendering three walks and unleashing two wild pitches.


DATE: 07/11

            With Vida Blue unavailable due to a twisted and bruised leg, the A’s turned to their bullpen to fill a temporary hole in the starting rotation. Joel Horlen, who had pitched exclusively in relief in his previous 17 appearances, worked eight creditable innings, but couldn’t come close to matching Boston’s Marty Pattin. The Red Sox’ right-hander narrowly missed throwing a no-hitter against Oakland’s inconsistent offense, coming within two outs of pitching a masterpiece before allowing a single to Reggie Jackson and settling for an impressive one-hitter—and a 4-0 victory at the Oakland Coliseum.

            Pattin’s batterymate, catcher Carlton Fisk, accounted for half of Boston’s run total with an RBI single and a solo home run. Former Athletic Danny Cater, now Boston’s regular first baseman, also drove in a run as the Sox beat the A’s for a second straight night.


A’s Acorns: With an 0-for-4 at the plate, Campy Campaneris’ 17-game hitting streak came to an end. Still, Campaneris managed to tie Joe Rudi for the franchise record while eclipsing Cater’s 16-game hitting streak in 1969… Aside from Jackson’s single, only three other A’s reached base against Pattin, all on walks… The unusually versatile Gene Tenace ended up making his first appearance of the season at third base this season. Sal Bando had to leave the game early, after he was hit in the head for the fifth time in his career; the captain gave way to utilityman Marty Martinez. After Mike Hegan pinch-hit for starting second baseman Tim Cullen, Dick Williams moved Martinez over to second base, but had no other fulltime infielders available to him. Tenace, who has already played right field this season, then stepped in and played the remainder of the game at the hot corner. 

DATE: 07/12

            Dave Duncan became the first member of the A’s to go 5-for-5 this year, but the catcher’s career day ended up becoming somewhat irrelevant in a 7-6 loss to the Red Sox. The disappointing defeat completes a three-game sweep at the hands of the Sox, whose own catcher played a large role in tonight’s outcome.

            Carlton Fisk, Boston’s No. 1 receiver, also reached base five times—including a home run, two singles, and a pair of walks. Fisk, who homered in yesterday’s Red Sox’ win, now has 12 long balls on the season. He ranks second among American League catchers in home runs, only two behind Duncan, who hit his 14th of the season tonight. Duncan has now homered four times in his last six games.


A’s Acorns: The A’s committed three errors in the game, leading to a decisive unearned run against Rollie Fingers, who took the loss. One of the miscues was committed by Gene Tenace, who made his first start of the season at third base. Tenace took the place of Sal Bando, who sat out the game after being hit in the head with a pitch the previous night… The A’s scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to make the game close, but their rally against reliever Bill Lee fell just short. Oakland banged out 16 hits on the night, but left 13 runners on base. Campy Campaneris managed three hits, while Tim Cullen and Angel Mangual each collected a pair. Starting in right field, Mangual also hit his second home run of the season… The A’s today placed first baseman Orlando Cepeda on the 15-day disabled list. The aching Cepeda, who has had trouble running and has come to bat only three times (all as a pinch-hitter) since being acquired on June 29, will likely have to undergo knee surgery.


DATE: 07/13

            The 1972 A’s, who have lost three consecutive games, are off today. After the day of rest, the slumping A’s will begin an East Coast road trip with a twi-night doubleheader in New York on Friday.

DATE: 07/14

            There’s nothing like a doubleheader sweep to cure a three-game losing streak. Playing in the opening games of an East Coast swing, the A’s swiped a pair at Yankee Stadium, winning 9-3 and 1-0.

            The twi-night doubleheader did not start well for the A’s, who fell behind 3-0 in the first inning of the lidlifter. Catfish Hunter, coming off back-to-back shutouts, surrendered a single to Bobby Murcer, three walks, and a double to Ron “Rocky” Swoboda before settling down. Allowing no more hits from the second inning on, Hunter separated the Yankees from the scoreboard for the rest of the game.

            Still, it did not appear that Hunter’s in-game recovery would matter. The A’s remained scoreless through the first six innings, unable to touch Steve Kline for even a single hit or walk. The Yankee right-hander, who shackled Oakland in his last start, looked perfectly impenetrable until the seventh, when he hit Campy Campaneris with a pitch. Then, without warning, Oakland’s offensive barrage began. Joe Rudi delivered a single and Reggie Jackson brought home three runs with his team-leading 16th home run of the season. Not to be outdone, Mike Epstein followed with his 15th home run—giving the A’s a 4-3 lead. Within the matter of moments, Kline had transported himself from a bid at a perfect game to a one-run deficit.

            Campaneris helped add insurance runs in the eighth, when he swatted a two-run homer. The A’s pushed across three more runs in the ninth to close out the scoring.

            Campaneris continued his surge in the nightcap. He led off the game with a double and came home to score the game’s lone run on a follow-up double by Angel Mangual. With a one-run lead in hand, Blue Moon Odom pitched scoreless ball for six and a third innings—running his record to 8-and-2—and Darold Knowles shut out the Yankees the rest of the way to earn his eighth save.


A’s Acorns: After his 5-for-5 day in the series finale against Boston, Dave Duncan went only 1-for-7 in the doubleheader, but did drive in two runs… After picking up two hits in four at-bats in the first game, Mike Epstein sat out the nightcap. Gene Tenace, starting against left-hander Mike Kekich and playing the role that was originally slated for the injured Orlando Cepeda, went 0-for-2 with a walk… Yankee third baseman Celerino Sanchez, better known for his defensive play, went 4-for-4 in the nightcap.


DATE: 07/15

            As the A’s’ captain and star third baseman, Sal Bando has accomplished many things in his major league career, yet has never hit a home run at Yankee Stadium—until today, that is. Not satisfied with his initial blast at “The House that Ruth Built,” Bando ripped two home runs in Oakland’s 6-2 win over New York.

            With the A’s holding a 1-0 advantage in the top of the fourth, Bando doubled the lead by banging out his first Yankee Stadium longball. The Yankees rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth, then watched the A’s re-take the lead in the seventh, before Bando contributed a three-run shot (his 10th home run of the season) in the ninth. The last-inning rally made Ken Holtzman’s 12th win and Rollie Fingers’ 10th save that much easier.

A’s Acorns: After pitching poorly in his most recent outings, Holtzman looked more like the early-season model with seven innings of two-run ball… The A’s tagged Yankee starter Fritz Peterson for 10 hits and three runs before jumping on New York’s bullpen for three more runs in the final frame. Reggie Jackson had two hits in three at-bats, including his 17th home run of the year… Dave Duncan collected two hits and an RBI in five at-bats… The usually light-hitting Tim Cullen went 3-for-4 while playing the entire game at second base.

DATE: 07/16

In the early 1960s, the Kansas City A’s were known as cellar-dwelling handmaids to the New York Yankees, always providing key players for another pinstriped pennant drive. A decade later, the transplanted A’s now call Oakland home—and can also call themselves a superior ballclub to the Yankees. The first-place A’s completed a four-game sweep of New York today via an impressive 5-2 win at Yankee Stadium.


The A’s jumped on Yankee ace Mel Stottlemyre early, scoring single runs in the first and second to end the right-hander’s string of 22 consecutive shutout innings. Joe Rudi provided the first run with his ninth home run. And then in the sixth, the A’s broke the game open with three more runs, two scoring on Mike Epstein’s 16th home run. Furthermore, freshman Dave Hamilton continued his push toward the American League’s Rookie of the Year Award with six and two-thirds of shutout ball. Hamilton also collected two hits in three trips to the plate.


A’s Acorns: Tim Cullen went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, giving him five hits in the last two games… Rudi and Sal Bando also had two-hit games… The little-used Marty Martinez made a rare start at shortstop, but gave Dick Williams little reason to increase his playing time. Martinez went 0-for-3 while committing an error… Bob Locker earned his sixth save despite giving up two runs in the bottom of the ninth.


DATE: 07/17

            The 1972 A’s, who have won four straight games, are off today. The A’s, who lead the American League West with a record of 52-and-30, will continue their eastern swing tomorrow night in Milwaukee. Catfish Hunter will oppose Earl Stephenson in the first game of the series.

DATE: 07/18

            The A’s extended their winning streak to five straight games tonight, but also saw that streak come to an end. Such is life when a major league team splits a doubleheader.

            In the first game, Catfish Hunter forged his third shutout in four starts by clamping down the Brewers, 4-0. Scattering five hits and yielding only one walk, Hunter improved to 12-and-4 on the season. The A’s had only five hits themselves, but two of them were of the extra-base variety and both came off the bat of Reggie Jackson. The A’s’ center fielder clubbed an RBI double along with his team-leading 18th home run.

            In the nightcap, the A’s’ winning ways came to an end as Jim Lonborg bested Joel Horlen, 7-4. The Brewers jumped on Horlen early, taking advantage of an Oakland error and stringing together singles by Bob Heise and George “Boomer” Scott, and a double by Dave “Daisy” May. The Brewers tacked on three more runs in the sixth, thanks to an infield error and a passed ball by catcher Gene Tenace. Mike Epstein tried to key a comeback by hitting a pair of solo home runs; in the ninth, the A’s scored two more runs to chase Lonborg but could draw no closer against reliever Frank Linzy, who recorded the final out.

A’s Acorns: Epstein, who now has 18 home runs to match Jackson’s total, went 3-for-4 in the nightcap… After Tim Cullen strained his back early in the opening game, Marty Martinez played both ends of the doubleheader at second base, but continued to struggle. Martinez went 0-for-6 while committing a costly error in the nightcap… The A’s made a player move today, purchasing the contract of reliever Gary Waslewski from their Triple-A affiliate at Iowa. Waslewski is expected to work out of Oakland’s bullpen.


DATE: 07/19

            Former Athletic Ollie Brown hit a game-tying home run to negate an early 3-0 deficit, but the A’s bounced back with a half-dozen runs in the seventh inning on their way to a 9-6 win at County Stadium. Angel Mangual’s triple and Reggie Jackson’s double were the key blows during the A’s game-breaking rally.  Blue Moon Odom was the primary recipient of the offensive explosion, improving his record to 9-and-2 despite giving up six runs in eight and one-third innings.


A’s Acorns: Art Shamsky’s tenure as a member of the A’s has come to a quick end. After seven unsuccessful trips to the plate as a pinch-hitter, the A’s released the veteran outfielder-first baseman and onetime member of the 1969 Miracle Mets. The A’s have recalled switch-hitting infielder Vic Harris from Triple-A Iowa to take Shamsky’s place on the 25-man roster… Rumors are circulating that the A’s have completed a multi-player trade with the Texas Rangers that will bring two former A’s back to the Bay Area. According to the report, the A’s would acquire veteran first baseman Don Mincher and switch-hitting utility infielder Ted Kubiak. One of the players rumored to be headed to Texas is Marty Martinez, who had three hits in five at-bats and scored a pair of runs in tonight’s game.


DATE: 07/19

            What was rumored yesterday became fact today. As expected, the A’s have completed a five-player deal with the Texas Rangers. The announcement of the trade, which was delayed until today because all of the players involved needed to clear waivers, brings infielders Don Mincher and Ted Kubiak to Oakland in exchange for three players. The A’s surrender veteran utilityman Marty Martinez, young middle infielder Vic Harris—who was just recalled from Triple-A yesterday—and a player to be named later.

            The trade, which greatly strengthens the Oakland bench, overshadowed the A’s’ second doubleheader (this one against the Boston Red Sox) in the last three days. Both ends of the Fenway Park twinbill ended up losses for the A’s—and both in discouraging fashion. In the opener, the Red Sox pushed across the game-winning run with an eighth-inning squeeze bunt, giving them a 2-1 victory and making Ken Holtzman’s complete-game effort a moot point. The second game offered even more heartbreak, as Darold Knowles forced in the winning run by walking Carl Yastrzemski with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th. The 4-3 loss negated a terrific game for Joe Rudi, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, including his 10th home run of the season.


A’s Acorns: Ted Kubiak, a former Athletic who last played for the team in 1970, arrived at the ballpark in time to play both games. Starting at second base in each end of the doubleheader, “Smooth” went 0-for-3 in his latest A’s debut and picked up a hit and a run scored in four at-bats in the nightcap… A’s hitters accumulated only 10 hits in the doubleheader… Vida Blue pitched well in taking a no-decision. He struck out nine batters in seven and one-third innings, allowing only two runs.

 DATE: 07/21

            The A’s keep finding heart-wrenching ways to lose to the Red Sox. After coughing up an early 4-0 lead, the A’s lost in the 14th inning on an error by a player being asked to play an unaccustomed position. 

            The Oakland offense jumped on Red Sox’ starter John Curtis early on, scoring three times in the first inning and once more in the third. Three of the runs came home on RBIs by Angel Mangual, who went 2-for-4 on the night. The Red Sox, however, chipped away with single runs in the fourth, sixth, seventh, and ninth, tying the game and forcing extra innings.

            On several occasions, the A’s appeared on the verge of ending the deadlock. In the top of the 10th inning, they loaded the bases, prompting Red Sox manager Eddie Kasko to replace former Athletic Ken Tatum with young right-hander Don Newhauser. Dave Duncan received the first chance to break the tie, but delivered nothing more than a harmless pop fly. Dick Williams then called on Don Mincher, making his first appearance since being reacquired earlier in the week from the Rangers, as a pinch-hitter for fellow trade acquisition Ted Kubiak. Failing to forge a storybook start to his second career with the A’s, Mincher struck out. Williams then summoned another pinch-hitter, journeyman Adrian Garrett, who matched Mincher’s fate by also succumbing on strikes.

            Having lost one opportunity, the A’s tried to build another rally in the 14th inning, this time loading the bases with two outs. Newhauser once again extinguished the threat, retiring George Hendrick, the last of four pinch-hitters used by Williams in the game.

            When the A’s took the field in the top of the 14th, they showcased arguably their strangest defensive alignment of the season. With Kubiak and Tim Cullen having been removed for pinch-hitters, Williams moved Sal Bando from third base to second, and brought Joe Rudi in from left field to play Bando’s vacated spot on the left side of the infield. Surely enough, the strange infield alignment cost the A’s. After Doug Griffin reached first on a two-out single, Carl Yastrzemski lashed a hard ground ball toward second base. Bando reached for the hard-hit but playable ball, only to have it carom wildly off his glove into short right-center field. As a platoon of A’s outfielders and infielders chased the ball, Griffin scored all the way from first to end the game, 5-4. The error by Bando saddled reliever Gary Waslewski—just up from Triple-A Iowa—with an unearned run and a loss in his Oakland debut.


A’s Acorns: Other than Angel Mangual, only one other Athletic had more than one hit during the marathon game. Leadoff man Campy Campaneris went 2-for-7 with a run scored and two stolen bases… Dave Hamilton gave the A’s another creditable start, allowing two runs in six innings, but watched Bob Locker blow the lead during his stint of two and one-third innings.


DATE: 07/22

            Forgive the A’s if they feel exhausted; for the third time in the last five days, the A’s played a doubleheader. This twinbill was a little bit different than the others—a split day-night, separate-admission pair of games at Fenway Park. And for the second time in three doubleheaders, the A’s manufactured a split, bringing the Red Sox’ seven-game winning streak to an end in the process.

            In the day game, the A’s took one-run leads on three separate occasions, only to watch the Red Sox rally to tie the score. Then, in the top of the eighth, the A’s broke the pattern. With two outs and no one, Dave Duncan lofted a lazy pop fly beyond second base. Doug Griffin camped himself under the ball, only to drop it as he collided with shortstop John Kennedy. Left-hander Gary Peters then walked the light-hitting Ted Kubiak, enabling Dick Williams to put the more dangerous Gene Tenace into the game as a pinch-hitter for reliever Darold Knowles. Tenace rattled a triple, scoring both Duncan and Kubiak with the go-ahead runs. Those runs would hold up, as Rollie Fingers came on to finish off the Red Sox by retiring six of seven batters.

            After a break of several hours, the two teams returned to the Fenway Park playing field to play the nightcap. Joel Horlen, who has now become a fulltime member of the Oakland starting rotation, allowed single runs in the third, fifth, and seventh innings. Although he pitched creditably, the A’s could offer him little support; Campy Campaneris’ error led to an unearned run and the Oakland offense mustered only five hits against Horlen’s counterpart, Sonny Siebert. Reggie Jackson and Angel Mangual each collected a pair of hits, but no other A’s position player managed a hit or a walk against Siebert, who improves to 9-and-5.


A’s Acorns: Don Mincher made his first two starts since joining the A’s earlier in the week. Playing first base in both games, “The Mule” went 1-for-9 against Red Sox pitching… The A’s’ regular first baseman, Mike Epstein, is sidelined by an eye infection. Epstein damaged his eye in a game against the Brewers on July 17, when he slid headfirst into the third base bag.  Dirt lodged in Epstein’s right eye, behind his contact lens.  Later that day, Epstein repeatedly rubbed his eye, causing an abrasion, and ultimately an infection.  With Epstein’s eye shut and covered by a patch, Mincher has moved into the temporary starting role, with Mike Hegan serving as his backup.


DATE: 07/23

            Playing their final game before the three-day All-Star break, the A’s beat the Red Sox, 6-3. Manager Dick Williams used the upcoming break to his advantage, employing first-half staff ace Ken Holtzman out of the bullpen. By pitching a scoreless sixth inning in relief of Blue Moon Odom, Holtzman earned his 13th win of the season.

            With the score tied at 2-2 through six innings, the A’s took advantage of several mistakes by the Red Sox. Sal Bando drew a walk and then advanced to second on a wild pitch by Boston starter Lynn McGlothen. The Red Sox’ right-hander added to his problems by walking the light-hitting Ted Kubiak in front of Mike Hegan, the pinch-hitter for Odom. During Hegan’s at-bat, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk allowed one of McGlothen’s deliveries to slip away, with the passed ball allowing both runners to move up. After Hegan lofted a sacrifice fly to give the A’s a 3-2 advantage, Campy Campaneris, Joe Rudi, and Reggie Jackson supplied consecutive singles to expand the lead to three runs. 


A’s Acorns: The A’s end the first half of the season firmly entrenched in first place, enjoying a six-and-a-half game lead in the American League West… Rudi and Jackson each went 3-for-5 with a run scored. Jackson also drove in two of Oakland’s six runs. Sal Bando and Angel Mangual each had two hits, an RBI, and a run scored… … The A’s made two errors, but also turned four double plays… After pinch-hitting for Odom, Hegan stayed in the game to play first base. Don Mincher went 0-for-2 as the starting first baseman before being lifted against left-hander Bill Lee, one of four relievers used by the Red Sox… The acquisition of Mincher gives Dick Williams a quantity he desperately wants—a left-handed power hitter to bring off the bench.  The A’s have tried—and given up on—both Art Shamsky and Curt Blefary in that role. Although Mincher had struggled to a .236 average in 61 games for the Rangers, he had been hitting the ball well of late prior to the trade.  Mincher had lifted his batting average 70 points in the last three weeks, and continued to lead the Rangers in RBIs, despite his status as a platoon player.  With six home runs, Mincher figures to provide the A’s with a decent long-ball threat in the late innings… Mincher will have to make the difficult adjustment from playing regularly to being used in spots. “I’m just not ready to sit on the bench,” said Mincher, a semi-regular for the Rangers, in an interview with The Sporting News.  “Although I don’t want to get into a lot of name-calling, and I won’t, but I’m really disappointed… This trade knocked me off my feet.”… Dick Williams also realizes that the trade for a first baseman might have a damaging effect on the psyche of incumbent Mike Epstein, who is currently sidelined by an eye infection. After all, Epstein had expressed frustration when he heard about the acquisition of Orlando Cepeda. Williams has already sought out Epstein, telling him that the A’s acquired Mincher to improve the bench, not to play first base every day.  “You’re my first baseman as long as you can do the job,” Williams has assured Epstein.


DATE: 07/24

A fine first half has translated into ample All-Star rewards for the A’s. Fans chose Reggie Jackson, who led all league outfielders in votes, to start the 1972 Midsummer Classic for the American League. Orioles manager Earl Weaver selected five other A’s players as reserves for tomorrow night’s All-Star Game in Atlanta: infielders Campy Campaneris and Sal Bando, outfielder Joe Rudi, and pitchers Catfish Hunter and Ken Holtzman. 

Several other Oakland players feel they should have been selected to the All-Star team, as well. The most deserving of the group appears to be overlooked catcher Dave Duncan, whose 14 home runs and 48 RBIs highlight his power hitting. In addition, Duncan’s all-around defensive play places him among the elite of the league’s receivers.  The snub by Weaver greatly upset Duncan, who has never played in an All-Star Game.  “I’m the best defensive catcher in the league,” Duncan contended in an interview with Bay Area sportswriter Ron Bergman, “and I’m doing the best with the bat.”  Instead of Duncan, Weaver chose Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk and Brewers journeyman Ellie Rodriguez as backups to the Tigers’ Bill Freehan. Weaver also ignored A’s first baseman Mike Epstein, who ranked in the league’s top five in both home runs and RBIs.  “I guess statistics don’t mean anything,” Epstein said with resignation in an interview with Bergman. Weaver also bypassed the comebacking Blue Moon Odom, who feels the Oriole manager played favorites by choosing his own pitcher, Pat Dobson.  Odom says Weaver should have picked either himself or Angels left-hander Clyde Wright.

 DATE: 07/25

            The American League stars fell to the National League stars, 4-1, on Joe Morgan’s RBI single in the bottom of the 10th, but two of the A’s did their fair share for the junior circuit. Reggie Jackson, who played the entire game while splitting time between right field and center field, picked up a single and double in four at-bats. Joe Rudi, coming into the game as a substitute for starting left fielder Carl Yastrzemski, doubled in his lone at-bat.

            Only one other Athletic saw action in the game. Sal Bando, the backup to All-Star starter Brooks Robinson, went 0-for-2 in a reserve stint at third base. Three other A’s All-Stars—Campy Campaneris, Catfish Hunter, and Ken Holtzman—did not make an appearance in the game. Campaneris, in particular, was not pleased by All-Star manager Earl Weaver’s decision not to use him in a reserve role.

All-Star Acorns: The American League now trails the All-Star series, 24 games to 18, with one tie.


DATE: 07/26

            The 1972 A’s are off today, sitting out the final day of the three-day All-Star break. The A’s will return to action tomorrow night, when they open up a series at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum against the rival Minnesota Twins. Vida Blue will face Twins ace Bert Blyleven in the opening game of the three-game set.


DATE: 07/27

            In tonight’s first game after the All-Star break, Vida Blue gave the A’s an indication that his second half might be a touch better than his contract-affecting first half. The ex-holdout pitched shutout ball over the first eight innings before tiring in the ninth and escaping with a 4-3 win over the rival Minnesota Twins.

            Blue allowed only four hits while striking out nine batters over the first eight frames, looking every bit like he did in winning the Cy Young and MVP in 1971. In the ninth, a fatigued Blue allowed three hits, including a two-run homer by Twins slugger Harmon “Killer” Killebrew. After the home run, Dick Williams pulled Blue and replaced him with Rollie Fingers, who retired the two batters he faced to record his 14th save.

            The Oakland offense did good early work against Minnesota’s staff ace, Bert Blyleven, denting him for a run in the third and two more in the fourth. The A’s then added what proved to be the game’s decisive run in the bottom of the eighth, when they victimized reliever Wayne Granger. Joe Rudi singled, Reggie Jackson and Angel Mangual drew walks, and Sal Bando delivered an infield grounder. On the forceout, Rudi came home to score, giving the A’s a 4-0 lead—a lead that would barely hold in the top of the ninth.


A’s Acorns: Rudi’s rally-starting single represented one of his three hits on the night… Jackson and Dave Duncan each went 2-for-3… Bando drove in two of the A’s’ four runs… With the win, Blue improves to 3-and-5 on the season… In off-the-field news, the A’s announced the re-acquisition of outfielder Brant Alyea from the St. Louis Cardinals earlier today. Alyea will report to Triple-A Iowa, where he is expected to be one of the minor league team’s starting outfielders. In May, the A’s had traded Alyea to the Cardinals for utility infielder Marty Martinez, who has since been dealt to the Texas Rangers. 


DATE: 07/28

            Another game and another 4-3 decision between the A’s and the Twins, with Harmon Killebrew and Co. emerging as victors this time. With the score tied at 1-1 going to the ninth, Minnesota broke through for three runs against Ken Holtzman and then held on for dear life, keeping a potentially dramatic rally by the A’s painfully shy of completion.

            Holtzman and Twins right-hander Dick Woodson locked up over the first eight inning, each limiting the other team’s lineup to a single run. In the top of the ninth, Killebrew cracked the deadlock with a two-run homer—his second longball in as many nights against A’s pitching. The Twins then added to the rally when Bobby Darwin reached safely on an error by Sal Bando, moved up to second on a fielder’s choice grounder by Eric “The Viking” Soderholm, and then scored on Steve Brye’s RBI single.

            To their credit, the A’s didn’t give up on the three-run margin. Bando led off the bottom of the ninth with a single and moved up to second on Dave Duncan’s walk. With two on and no one out, Twins manager Bill Rigney pulled Woodson from the game in favor of reliever Jim Strickland, who promptly walked pinch-hitter George Hendrick to load the bases. That brought a tougher hitter to the plate in Gene Tenace, pinch-hitting for Holtzman, who came through with a clutch two-run single. Strickland then walked Campy Campaneris to re-load the bases. With no one out, a tied game—if not an outright win—seemed almost guaranteed for the A’s.

            The Twins brought in right-hander Wayne Granger to face the red-hot Joe Rudi. Granger, at one time the Twins’ No. 1 reliever and still the owner of a deceiving side-arm motion, struck out Rudi. With Reggie Jackson the next scheduled batter, Rigney summoned left-hander Dave LaRoche. The hard-throwing LaRoche overpowered Jackson on a strikeout and then easily handled the light-hitting Tim Cullen, who was called on to pinch-hit for the first time this season. Cullen popped up weakly to end a game that the A’s, just a few moments earlier, thought they were about to win.


A’s Acorns: Having already used Tenace and George Hendrick as pinch-hitters, Dick Williams had no other right-handed batters besides Cullen on his bench. Oh where have you gone, “Downtown” Ollie Brown? Or how about you, Brant Alyea? Come to think of it, Alyea was just reacquired by the A’s’ organization yesterday and sent to Triple-A Iowa. If Williams continue to use a plethora of pinch-hitters, Alyea could be back in the big leagues sooner than originally expected... Killebrew now has 17 home runs on the season… Duncan hit his 15th for the A’s.


DATE: 07/29

            For most of the season, the A’s have been looking for a third outfielder, ideally a quality center fielder or right fielder who can hit for either average or power. Regardless of whether the A’s eventually find that player, there has been nothing wrong with their other two starting outfielders, both of whom have played major roles in sustaining Oakland’s offense this summer. Those two All-Stars carried the A’s again today, combining to hit three home runs in a 7-2 win over the Twins.

            Reggie Jackson, who has emerged as the team’s regular center fielder after calling right field home for most of his career, hit two solo home runs, including a third-inning rip that gave the A’s a 2-0 lead. And then in the seventh inning, left fielder Joe Rudi connected with two men aboard—his 11th of the season—to expand the lead to 7-1. Jackson then followed Rudi with his second solo blast of the day—and his team leading 20th home run of year. The array of long balls by the Oakland outfielders helped Catfish Hunter coast to his 13th win of the season, a comfortable complete-game five-hitter.


A’s Acorns: All four of the A’s’ runs in the seventh inning were scored as unearned—the result of an error by Twins third baseman Eric Soderholm… With a big lead in the late innings, Dick Williams gave Rudi and Jackson the rest of the day off. Journeyman Adrian Garrett made a rare appearance spelling Rudi in left, while rookie George Hendrick took over for Jackson in right… Don Mincher continues to struggle since donning the green and gold a little over a week ago. “The Mule,” starting at first base against a right-hander, went hitless in three trips before being taken out in favor of defensive specialist Mike Hegan… Minnesota outfielder Charlie Manuel, pinch-hitting for reliever Dave LaRoche, belted his first home run of the season. [Editor’s note: This is the same Charlie Manuel who would eventually become manager of the Cleveland Indians before being fired in the midst of the 2002 season.]

DATE: 07/30

The first-place A’s received the ultimate insult today—losing a doubleheader to the dismal, last-place Texas Rangers. To make matters worse, the primary force behind the Rangers’ day-long resurgence could be found in light-hitting infielder Dave Nelson, who had been mired in a 7-for-60 slump heading into the twinbill.

            In the first game, Nelson spearheaded the Ranger cause early, drawing a first-inning walk, stealing second base, and then coming home to score on a single by Larry Biittner. The A’s managed to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, but Nelson came through again in the ninth, driving in Jim Mason with what proved to be a game-winning double. Former Athletic Paul Lindblad closed out the A’s in the bottom of the ninth, closing out the game at 3-2 and finishing off a stint of three and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief.

            In the second game, Nelson again walked in the first inning, again stole second base, and again scored—this time on a double by Ted Ford. The A’s immediately rallied to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first, before Nelson drove in Mason with another RBI single. And then in the seventh, Nelson thrust himself in the middle of another Rangers rally by again driving in Mason with a single and then scoring a run himself on Elliott Maddox’ RBI triple. The two-run outburst gave the Rangers their final runs in a 4-2 victory and also made a winner of former Athletics prospect Don Stanhouse, who earned his first major league victory.


A’s Acorns: Nelson stole four bases in the twinbill, two in the first game and two in the second… Biittner, the Rangers’ first baseman against right-handed pitching, went 4-for-4 in the opening game… Blue Moon Odom (now 9-and-3) and Dave Hamilton (now 6-and-4) took the losses for the A’s. Odom allowed 10 hits and four walks, but permitted only two runs… The A’s totaled only 14 hits in the doubleheader. The only offensive bright spots were provided by Sal Bando, who went 2-for-4 in the opener, and Mike Hegan, starting in place of the slumping Don Mincher, who went 2-for-4 in the nightcap.


DATE: 07/31

            This is what Charlie Finley had in mind when he agreed to budge from his beginning offer and give Vida Blue a larger-than-initially desired pay raise. Turning in his finest outing of a truncated, contract-delayed season, Blue allowed only two hits in pinning down the Rangers, 2-0. Blue retired the first 17 batters he faced before his mound counterpart, Texas right-hander Rich Hand, laid down a surprising bunt single in the sixth inning.  Hand’s bunt base hit didn’t faze Blue, however, as the A’s’ left-hander proceeded to set down the rest of the Rangers in order, with the lone exception of Toby Harrah’s pinch-hit single in the ninth.

            Blue’s terrific performance might have gone to waste if not for a major mental meltdown by Rangers left fielder Ted Ford in the bottom of the third inning. After Blue walked and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt, Joe Rudi flied out to Ford. Thinking that he had recorded the third out of the inning, Ford proceeded to trot leisurely toward the infield. Having already tagged up and started his run toward third, Blue realized Ford’s mistake, rounded third hard, and headed home. The unusual sacrifice fly—as determined by the official scorer—gave the A’s a 1-0 lead, which they maintained until the eighth, when two Ranger errors (one by Hand and one by third baseman Dave Nelson) contributed to an insurance run. Former Ranger Ted Kubiak singled and eventually made his way to third on the miscues, before scoring on Rudi’s second sacrifice fly of the game. 


A’s Acorns: Oakland bats have now gone silent over the last three games. The A’s managed only two hits in tonight’s win—one by Kubiak and the other by Dave Duncan. Hand allowed both of the hits before departing after seven and one-third innings. Hand also walked three A’s batters… Campy Campaneris, the A’s’ best bunter, executed two successful sacrifices… The A’s announced a player move before the game, outrighting infielder-outfielder Adrian Garrett to Triple-A Iowa.


DATE: 08/01

            For 20 consecutive innings, Oakland hurlers have done what all pitchers strive to do—keep the other team off the board. Following in the footsteps of Vida Blue’s masterful performance last night, Ken Holtzman pitched his fourth shutout of the season, knocking down the Kansas City Royals, 4-0. Including Bob Locker’s two scoreless innings of relief in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheaders, the A’s’ scoreless innings streak has now reached 20 frames over a three-game stretch.

            Once again displaying precise control, Holtzman walked no one in improving his record to 14-and-9. The left-hander allowed only three hits—a double by Royals left fielder Lou Piniella and a pair of harmless singles by third baseman Paul Schaal. In contrast, the A’s dented Royals pitching for 11 hits. The key blows came in the third inning, when Sal Bando plated two runs with a single, and the fifth inning, when Reggie Jackson rocked Paul Splittorff for a two-run homer.

A’s Acorns: Bando went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, while Jackson finished the night with two hits and two RBIs in three tries. Joe Rudi added two hits and two runs scored in four at-bats.

  DATE: 08/02

            Among the team’s position players, there isn’t much doubt as to who has been the A’s’ most improved player. Continuing his march toward stardom, Joe Rudi came within a triple of hitting for the cycle—banging out a home run, a double, and a single—in leading the A’s to a 5-0 blanking of the Royals. Rudi’s two hits and two runs scored supported the five-hit pitching of Catfish Hunter, who improved to 14-and-4 with a route-going start. Oakland pitchers have now combined to pitch 27 consecutive innings without surrendering a run—either earned or unearned.

            Rudi doubled in the fourth inning and came home on Mike Epstein’s sacrifice fly, breaking a scoreless tie. In the fifth, Rudi singled in Catfish Hunter to expand to the lead to 2-0. And then in the seventh, Rudi hit his 12th home run of the season to open up a 3-0 advantage.

            Tonight’s game was marred by an ugly incident that started when Royals pitcher Dick Drago fired a fastball that clipped Sal Bando in the ankle.  Bando stepped toward the mound, only to be intercepted by Kansas City’s burly catcher, Ed Kirkpatrick.  Bando and Kirkpatrick tangled, leading to an eruption of players from both benches onto the playing field.  Dave Duncan tackled Kirkpatrick, preventing him from doing any further bodily harm to Bando, who was ejected from the game.  During the melee, Reggie Jackson pulled a muscle in his ribcage, aggravating an injury that already existed.


A’s Acorns: Tim Cullen replaced Bando and finished out the game at third base. Cullen picked up one hit in three trips to the plate… Hunter walked one Royal batter and struck out five… Batterymates Hunter and Duncan each went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.


DATE: 08/03

            The 1972 A’s are off today. They will begin a weekend series in the Twin Cities on Friday night. Blue Moon Odom will oppose curveballing Bert Blyleven in the opening game of the series. The A’s may be without Reggie Jackson, who injured his ribcage in the melee with the Royals last night.


DATE: 08/04

            Joe Rudi piled up three more hits and homered for the second consecutive game, but his offensive exploits couldn’t prevent a painful 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins. A single by Rod Carew and a double by Steve Braun, coming in the seventh inning at the expense of reliever Bob Locker, gave the Twins what proved to be the winning run at Metropolitan Stadium.

            The A’s rallied from an early 4-1 deficit to make it a one-run game, before watching the Twins open up a two-run lead in the seventh. Joe Rudi’s home run in the eighth—his 13th of the season—drew Oakland within one again, but proved to be nothing more than window dressing in the loss to the A’s’ Western Division rivals. After giving up Rudi’s home run, Twins fireman Wayne Granger settled down and closed out the game for his 15th save.


A’s Acorns: Reggie Jackson sat out tonight’s game, having aggravated a ribcage muscle pull during the brawl with the Royals on Thursday night. Bill Voss took Jackson’s place in center field while Angel Mangual received another start in right field. Voss and Mangual combined to go 0-for-8… The Oakland staff’s streak of 27 innings without having surrendered a run came to an end in the first inning, when Blue Moon Odom allowed a pair of Twins to score. Odom also fell short in his bid to join Catfish Hunter and Ken Holtzman in the double-figures win circle. Odom, who lasted only four innings before being lifted in favor of a pinch-hitting Mike Hegan, gave up four runs in falling to 9-and-4 on the year. … Manager Dick Williams continues to use a bevy of substitute hitters. In addition to Hegan, Don Mincher and Dave Duncan also made pinch-hitting appearances… The A’s played sloppily in the field, with Odom and the usually surehanded Ted Kubiak committing errors.

DATE: 08/05


Without the ailing Reggie Jackson in their lineup, the A’s’ offense takes on the look of a typical team in 1968—the “Year of the Pitcher.” Playing without their most celebrated offensive player for a second straight game, the A’s fell to the Twins, 5-0. Joe Rudi tried to pick up the slack with a pair of hits in four at-bats, but as a team the A’s totaled only five safeties (and none of the extra-base variety) in losing to Minnesota right-hander Dick Woodson.

            The A’s struggled in other areas of the game, too. After pitching a two-hitter in his last start, Vida Blue yielded four runs in four innings before departing for a pinch-hitter. Blue didn’t help himself in the field either, committing one of three Oakland errors, with second baseman Tim Cullen and catcher Gene Tenace responsible for the other defensive mistakes.


A’s Acorns: Although the A’s had to play the game without Jackson, Woodson deserves some credit, as well. Woodson has pitched shutouts in back-to-back games. Woodson also helped himself on the offensive end with two successful sacrifice bunts… After pitching brilliantly in the prior three game, Oakland starters have now failed to make it through five innings in each of their last two starts… The A’s are not sure when Jackson will be able to return from his injured ribcage muscle. The possibility of a stint on the disabled list looms… Without Jackson, George Hendrick played center field and went 0-for-3 against Woodson… The A’s used four more pinch-hitters in today’s game. They combined to go 0-for-3 with a walk… One of Oakland’s few bright spots was provided by reliever Gary Waslewski, a recent recall from Triple-A Iowa. The journeyman right-hander supplied three innings of shutout ball in relief of an ineffective Blue.

DATE: 08/06

            Given the onset of age and signs of decline in the third-place Twins, the A’s had hoped for better than a record of 1-and-3 in their four-game weekend set against the two-time winners of the American League West. Yet, that’s all the A’s managed after splitting a Sunday afternoon doubleheader against aging Minnesota.

            The A’s took the first game, 6-3, behind the pitching of Ken Holtzman and Darold Knowles, with the latter picking up a rare victory in relief. The second game did not bode as well, however, as rookie Dave Hamilton continued his recent struggles after a surprisingly effective beginning to his major league career. Hamilton took the loss in a 5-1 nightcap at Metropolitan Stadium.


A’s Acorns: The A’s remain 21 games above .500 at 62-and-41, but their lead in the American League East is now done to three and a half games over the White Sox, who swept their doubleheader against the Rangers… The A’s have dropped five of six decisions to the Twins this season. With the three wins over the weekend, the Twins have moved within eight games of the first-place A’s.


DATE: 08/07

            The law of averages caught up with the A’s tonight—on two different fronts. Catfish Hunter’s six-game winning streak came to an end on the same night that his counterpart, Kansas City Royals starter Dick Drago, ended a 26-at-bat hitless string. Drago’s surprising RBI single helped lift Kansas City to a 4-2 victory at Royals Stadium.

            The A’s took an early lead against Drago, scoring runs in each of the first two innings. The Royals then broke through in the fourth, bunching three singles, two walks, a double, and a sacrifice fly in denting Hunter for four runs. Hunter recovered to pitch a scoreless fifth and sixth inning before departing the game for a pinch-hitter. In the meantime, Drago shut the A’s down over the final seven innings to win only his eighth game against 13 losses.


A’s Acorns: Joe Rudi accounted for one of Oakland’s runs with his 14th home run of the season… Mike Epstein doubled and tripled in four at-bats… Reggie Jackson missed his fourth consecutive game with a ribcage injury. In his absence, the A’s have used Bill Voss in center field and Angel Mangual in right field, weakening both their hitting and their outfield defense.


DATE: 08/08

            The A’s’ current road trip is quickly turning into a disaster area. Unable to hold a late one-run lead, the Oakland bullpen allowed the tying run in the eighth inning and the winning run in the ninth, resulting in a frustrating 4-3 loss to the Royals. With the loss, the A’s fall to 1-and-5 on their journey through the Midwest.

            Oakland’s defense also contributed to the defeat, albeit in the early innings. Errors by starter Blue Moon Odom and second baseman Tim Cullen led directly to a pair of unearned runs. The A’s then fought back with three runs in the fourth, two of them scoring on Gene Tenace’s triple. Oakland’s lead remained intact until the eighth, when Freddie Patek led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and eventually scored on an infield grounder by Amos Otis.

            With the game tied in the ninth and Rollie Fingers on the mound for the A’s, the Royals once again placed their leadoff man on base. Richie Scheinblum stroked a single before giving way to pinch-runner Steve Hovley, a former A’s outfielder. Hovley then moved into scoring position on a fielder’s choice groundout, prompting the A’s to walk Lou Piniella, one of Kansas City’s most capable hitters. The strategy initially appeared to work, as Fingers struck out Paul Schaal, but Freddie Patek delivered a two-out single to score Hovley and send the A’s to another defeat.


A’s Acorns: Odom left the game after only two and a third innings, his shortest outing of the season. Lacking command and control of his pitches, Odom allowed eight baserunners—four hits and four walks—and also uncorked a wild pitch… The A’s have been playing shorthanded since July 31, when they demoted backup outfielder-infielder Adrian Garrett to Iowa of the American Association, but failed to add a 25th man to the roster. The A’s finally replaced Garrett on the roster today, recalling outfielder Brant Alyea from the Triple-A Oaks. This marks Alyea’s second stint with the team. After joining the A’s as a winter pickup in the Rule 5 draft, Alyea opened the season with Oakland before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for infielder Marty Martinez on May 28. The A’s then reacquired Alyea on July 27, picking him up in a cash deal and assigning him to the minor leagues… Dick Williams wasted little time in putting Alyea to use. Apparently dissatisfied with the play of Angel Mangual and Bill Voss, Williams inserted Alyea into the lineup as his right fielder. Alyea went 0-for-3 with an RBI before being lifted for a pinch-hitter… After missing four straight games with an injured ribcage, Reggie Jackson returned to the lineup and played center field. Jackson went hitless in four at-bats before giving way to George Hendrick.


DATE: 08/09

            Perhaps feeling the effects of the so-called “dog days” of August, the A’s find themselves playing their worst ball of the season. The A’s committed two more errors tonight—giving them five in their last two games—managed only four hits against Royals pitching, and watched Vida Blue struggle for a second consecutive game in losing to Kansas City, 5-2. With the lackluster defeat, the A’s conclude their Midwestern road trip a dismal 1-and-6, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Royals.

            The Royals scored a single run against Blue in the fourth, before knocking him from the game with a two-run rally in the sixth. The Royals then iced the game in the seventh, when Darold Knowles allowed his first home run of the season. Even more strangely, the long ball came off the bat of Royals second baseman Cookie Rojas, who had failed to hit a home run in Kansas City during his first two and a half seasons with the club. Rojas, who also homered in the All-Star Game earlier this summer, clubbed a two-run shot to give the Royals their final runs of the night. The A’s did manage to make a late charge in the seventh, scoring two runs against Royals starter Mike Hedlund, but could draw no closer against Kansas City’s bullpen. Pitching two and one-third innings of scoreless relief, veteran sidearmer Ted Abernathy earned his first save of the season.


A’s Acorns: Campy Campaneris and Mike Epstein committed errors in tonight’s game, although neither miscue result in unearned runs… Continuing a season-long tendency, Dick Williams used four pinch-hitters—Mike Hegan, Don Mincher, Gene Tenace, and Mangual—in tonight’s game. Of the four, only Gene Tenace recorded an official at-bat. Hegan and Mangual drew walks, while Mincher was lifted after the Royals summoned left-hander Norm Angelini from their bullpen.

DATE: 08/10

            The A’s and the White Sox, who find themselves separated by merely one-half game in the divisional standings, played into the early morning hours, but still couldn’t decide the outcome of their Western Division showdown. With the score tied at 3-3 after 17 innings and the local clocks reading 1:00 am—the standard curfew for American League games—the umpires suspended the game and announced that it would be resumed on Friday night.

The White Sox twice took leads against the first-place A’s, initially by the score of 2-0 and then 3-2, only to watch the A’s rally to tie in the eighth inning and then again in the 13th inning. After the White Sox took the lead on a triple by Pat Kelly and an ensuing wild pitch, the A’s rallied in the bottom half of the 13th, extending the game when Gene Tenace drove in Angel Mangual with a dramatic two-out single.

            The two teams will resume play on Friday night in the top of the 18th, play to a conclusion, and then tackle the regularly-scheduled game later in the evening.


A’s Acorns: The A’s used seven pitchers through 17 innings. Ken Holtzman started the game and worked the first seven innings before being succeeded by Rollie Fingers, Darold Knowles, Bob Locker, Joel Horlen, Dave Hamilton, and Gary Waslewski. The White Sox used six pitchers—Tom Bradley, Terry Forster, Cy Acosta, Steve Kealey, Dave Lemonds, and Rich Gossage… Prior to the game, the A’s placed All-Star outfielder Reggie Jackson on the disabled list. Jackson re-aggravated a ribcage injury in the final game of the series against the Royals. With Jackson sidelined, the A’s are expected to use a platoon of Angel Mangual and Bill Voss in center field.


DATE: 08/11

            Where would the A’s be without Joe Rudi? Their All-Star left fielder delivered yet another dramatic and necessary hit—this time a game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the 19th inning—to give the A’s a 5-3 win in the completion of yesterday’s suspended game. Rudi’s blow made a loser of Stan Bahnsen, normally a starter for the White Sox, while putting another starter, Catfish Hunter, in the 15-win circle. Hunter came on to pitch scoreless relief in the 18th and 19th innings before the A’s rallied to win on Campy Campaneris’ single and Rudi’s 15th home run of the season.

            Hunter came within a whisper of winning both ends of the pseudo-doubleheader. After coming on in relief in the conclusion of the suspended game, Hunter started the regularly-scheduled affair and allowed a first-inning run on Carlos May’s RBI single before settling down to shut the Sox down over the next seven innings. Unfortunately, Oakland’s offense could do nothing to support Hunter. Left-hander Dave Lemonds and right-hander Cy Acosta, both of whom pitched in the suspended portion of the early game on Thursday night, throttled the A’s on two hits and two walks. Only Sal Bando and Dave Duncan managed singles against the two young White Sox hurlers, who combined for a 1-0 victory.

            With the loss, Oakland’s lead over Chicago in the American League West race falls back to one-half game. 


A’s Acorns: In the suspended game, three A’s collected three hits apiece. Rudi and Campy Campaneris each went 3-for-9, while Angel Mangual picked up three hits in eight at-bats… Defensively, the A’s played one of their worst games of the season, committing five errors in 19 innings, including a pair of miscues by Angel Mangual… The A’s used 22 of their 24 players in the suspended game. The only A’s who did not make appearances were starting pitchers Vida Blue and Blue Moon Odom… Rookie first baseman Gonzalo Marquez, who was just recalled from Triple-A Iowa to replace the injured Reggie Jackson on the 25-man roster, made his major league debut in the regularly-scheduled game, pinch-hitting unsuccessfully for Ted Kubiak… The A’s announced two other player moves in between games, demoting rookie outfielder George Hendrick to Iowa and activating veteran second baseman Dick Green from the disabled list. Green has missed most of the season with a herniated disc in his back. 


DATE: 08/12

            The A’s are no longer a first-place team. Facing one of the American League’s most effective and durable pitchers this season, the A’s managed only one run and two hits against knuckleballing specialist Wilbur Wood. The White Sox’ ace pitched all 11 innings, earned a 3-1 afternoon victory, emerged as the major leagues’ first 20-game winner this summer, and pushed his team into first place by one-half game over the A’s.

            Wood held the A’s hitless through the first six innings, before allowing an infield single to Brant Alyea in the bottom of the seventh. Wood stranded Alyea, then sat back and watched his offense mount a rally in the top of the ninth. Dick Allen tripled and came home to score on a sacrifice fly by Carlos May, giving the Sox a 1-0 lead. Given Wood’s effectiveness, that seemed like a healthy margin, but the knuckleballer faltered in the bottom half of the inning, surrendering a game-tying home run to Alyea.

            In the top of the 11th, the White Sox took advantage of Oakland’s bullpen. Allen singled against Rollie Fingers and then tried to steal second, only to be thrown out by Dave Duncan. Undeterred, the White Sox re-ignited the rally. May drew a walk, setting the table for Ed Spiezio. The Sox’ third baseman clubbed a two-run homer—only his second of the season—knocking Fingers from the game and sending the A’s to second-place residency in the American League West.

A’s Acorns: The A’s had owned the top spot in the Western Division since May 26, giving them a 10-week hold on the division lead… Other than Alyea—who batted cleanup and played right field—none of the A’s’ batters managed hits against a tireless Wood.

DATE: 08/15

            Due to a quirk in the schedule, the A’s and Orioles do not play a game today. The two teams, opponents in the 1971 American League Championship Series, will conclude their abbreviated series tomorrow night, when Catfish Hunter opposes Mike Cuellar at Memorial Stadium.


DATE: 08/16

            Campy Campaneris successfully extracted revenge on Earl Weaver for the Baltimore manager’s failure to play him in this year’s All-Star Game. The Oakland shortstop racked up three hits in four at-bats—including a solo home run—to lead the first-place A’s to a 4-3 win tonight over Weaver’s Orioles.

            Campaneris homered to lead off the game, giving the A’s the jump against left-hander Mike “Crazy Horse” Cuellar. After the Orioles scored two runs to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth, Campy ignited another rally in the top of the fifth by singling, advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt, stealing third base, and then scoring on Sal Bando’s sacrifice fly. Angel Mangual then gave the A’s a temporary lead with a rare home run (only his third) in the seventh inning, and Mike Epstein broke another tie by clubbing his 20th home run in the top of the eighth. Three Oakland relievers combined to shut down the Orioles over the final two and two-thirds innings, with Bob Locker picking up the win and Joel Horlen earning his first save as a member of the A’s.


A’s Acorns: Though not known for his power, Campaneris now has seven home runs on the season… Catfish Hunter deserved better than a no-decision. Only one of the three runs he permitted was earned. The A’s made three errors in the field, including two by the usually sound Sal Bando… Batting in the No. 2 spot for the first time this season, Mangual enjoyed one of his most productive games in recent memory. In addition to hitting a home run, Mangual collected a single and executed two sacrifice bunts.


DATE: 08/17

            The 1972 A’s are off today. They will resume their road trip on Friday night, with the start of a three-game series in Cleveland. Blue Moon Odom will oppose Gaylord Perry in the first game of the weekend set at Municipal Stadium.

DATE: 08/18

            Dick Williams employed one of his most unusual lineups of the season—but the A’s didn’t miss a beat. With Angel Mangual playing in center field for the injured Reggie Jackson and Mike Hegan earning his first start in right field in place of the slumping Bill Voss, the A’s banged out three home runs as part of a 10-hit attack. The A’s swatted the Indians, 8-0, supporting the complete-game shutout effort of Blue Moon Odom.

            After failing to score in their first three at-bats, the A’s tattooed 18-game winner Gaylord Perry in the fourth and fifth innings. Campy Campaneris and Sal Bando each touched Perry for two-run homers, giving the A’s a 4-0 lead. After Perry’s departure from the game, the A’s added to the lead on Hegan’s solo home run—his first of the season—in the seventh inning. The A’s then scored their final runs on Campy Campaneris’ single (giving him three RBIs for the night) and a bases-loaded double by the normally light-hitting Tim Cullen.

            On the mound, Odom coasted from start to finish. He allowed only seven baserunners, including four walks, in completely taming the Indians and reaching double figures in wins.


A’s Acorns: There was one oddity contained in Odom’s pitching line. Of the 34 Indians he faced, he struck out only one batter… Hegan’s home run highlighted a 2-for-4 night at the plate, including two runs scored.  After temporarily falling out of first place, the A’s have recovered to win three straight games. 

DATE: 08/18

Two of the constants for the A’s this summer have been the effectiveness of a deep and talented bullpen and their ability to handle the Cleveland Indians. Those two tendencies wavered today, as Oakland’s bullpen gave up three decisive runs in a 5-4 loss to the Tribe.

            The A’s, who had won the first seven head-to-head matchups with the Indians, had to turn to their bullpen early because of the physical condition of Vida Blue. The hard-throwing southpaw left the game after one inning (and two runs), supposedly because of recurring pain in his groin. Journeyman Gary Waslewski, the first of four Oakland relievers to pitch this afternoon, proved ineffective in succeeding Blue. After the A’s took a 3-2 lead, Waslewski allowed a home run to Alex Johnson, a walk to Roy Foster, and another home run to Graig Nettles. The A’s never fully recovered from the sudden two-run deficit, scoring only a single run in the seventh inning against the Indian bullpen.


A’s Acorns: Blue’s appearance as today’s starter was surprising given Dick Williams’ declaration last week that the left-hander wouldn’t be traveling on the current road trip because of his need to have dental work done. According to Blue, he had two cavities removed earlier in the week. A’s trainer Joe Romo says Blue came out of the game early, not because of the dental work, but because of a distinctly different problem. “He’s got a groin infection,” says Romo. “It hurts him every time he lifts his leg.” Since Blue relies on a higher-than-normal leg kick as part of his delivery, the strain on his groin has become more problematic… Dave Duncan and Mike Epstein each homered for the A’s. Duncan hit his 17th and Epstein his 21st… Mike Hegan made his second consecutive start in right field. He singled in his lone at-bat before giving way to a pinch-hitting Gene Tenace… In the absence of Reggie Jackson, Angel Mangual continues to bat second and play center field “Little Clemente” collected two RBIs and three hits, including a pair of doubles, in five at-bats.


 DATE: 08/20

            For most of the season, the A’s have received excellent starting pitching. In their last two games, however, the starters have lasted a combined three innings while giving up five runs. After Vida Blue’s one-inning, two-run effort on Saturday, Ken Holtzman struggled almost as badly today, giving up all three Indians runs in two innings before departing a 3-2 defeat to the Tribe. The loss, combined with the Chicago White Sox’ split of a doubleheader, puts the A’s in a first-place tie with Dick Allen and Company.

            Holtzman lacked control of his pitches almost from the very start. After retiring leadoff man Buddy Bell, Holtzman walked Eddie Leon and then allowed a two-out, run-scoring double to Alex Johnson. In the second inning, Holtzman again initiated a rally with a walk. A base on balls to Ray Fosse, followed by a single to Roy Foster, a double to Graig Nettles, and a sacrifice fly by Frank Duffy extended Oakland’s deficit to three runs. The A’s offense failed to mount a comeback against Indians starter Dick “Dirt” Tidrow, who earned his 11th win with a complete-game effort.


A’s Acorns: Joe Rudi drove in the A’s’ only run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning…. Mike Hegan made his third consecutive start in right field… Oakland’s bullpen did well in support of Holtzman. Joel Horlen, Dave Hamilton, and Rollie Fingers each turned in two scoreless innings of relief.


DATE: 08/21

            Based on the outcome of tonight’s game in Detroit, the A’s knew that they would either be residing in sole possession of first place, or finding themselves looking up at the White Sox in the American League West standings. Given that situation, the A’s could have asked for no one better than Catfish Hunter to pitch tonight’s game. The Oakland ace made an early 3-0 lead stand up, sending the A’s to a 5-1 win at Tiger Stadium.

            Hunter’s counterpart, veteran left-hander Woodie Fryman, had won his first three American League decisions since joining the Tigers in a mid-season deal. Facing Fryman for the very first time, the A’s scored three times in the first inning. Campy Campaneris led off the game with a double, daringly stole third, and came home to score on Joe Rudi’s single, one of his four hits on the night. Sal Bando followed with a single, setting up a two-run double by Mike Epstein. The run support helped Hunter pitch aggressively in improving his record to 16-and-6; he allowed only one walk in shutting down the Tigers over the first eight innings. Rollie Fingers pitched a scoreless ninth to post his 15th save.


A’s Acorns: Oakland’s first five batters—Campaneris, Angel Mangual, Rudi, Bando, and Epstein—combined for 12 hits, four RBIs, and four runs scored. Rudi led the way with four hits and Campaneris collected three, while Mangual and Epstein had two apiece… Jim Northrup accounted for Detroit’s only run with his eighth home run of the season…

The A’s made a roster move prior to tonight’s game. Brant Alyea, who injured his hamstring earlier on the road trip, has been placed on the disabled list. Rookie outfielder George Hendrick, who spent much of the first half of the season with the A’s, has been called up from Triple-A Iowa.

DATE: 08/22

            The A’s and the Tigers don’t like each other. That sentiment became plainly evident during tonight’s game, which featured a bench-clearing, dugout-emptying brawl. Histrionics aside, the A’s played well before and after the fisticuffs to post a memorable 6-3 win at Tiger Stadium.

            The A’s took an early lead on Joe Rudi’s two-run homer in the first inning—his 17th roundtripper of the season—but the Tigers countered with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Blue Moon Odom’s first home run of 1972, coming in the third inning, gave the A’s a 3-2 lead, which then became a four-run advantage on Angel Mangual’s three-run shot in the fifth.

In the top of the seventh, Odom picked up his second hit, a one-out single. Facing Campy Campaneris, reliever Bill Slayback threw a pitch up and in, just missing Campy’s head on the way to the backstop. After Campaneris grounded out, Odom surprised everyone in attendance by stealing third base, a development that apparently angered Slayback— or more to the point, Tiger manager Bill Martin. After Martin gestured toward Slayback, the right-hander threw another high-and-tight fastball, this one just behind the neck of Mangual. Slayback then made a move toward home plate, perhaps to cover in case Mangual tried to score.

Mangual, however, had no interest in scoring. Instead, he met Slayback in between the plate and the mound and promptly decked the pitcher with a stiff right fist.  The initial fit of violence prompted several others bouts between members of the A’s and Tigers. Martin ran toward Mangual, but was stopped by A’s manager Dick Williams. Tigers outfielder Willie Horton ran in from the outfield and encountered Mike Epstein, whom he greeted with a right-hand punch, knocking the A’s’ first baseman to the ground. In the meantime, Mangual fell on top of Slayback, Tigers utility infielder Ike Brown struck Dave Duncan from behind, and A’s coach Jerry Adair exchanged blows with Tigers catcher Duke Sims. Another A’s coach, Irv Noren, found himself on the receiving end of a punch from one of the Tigers pitchers, believed to be reliever Tom Timmerman. The series of fights lasted nearly 15 minutes.

After the umpires ejected Brown, Mangual, and Slayback from the premises, the two teams finished out the game without further incident. Unfortunately, the two teams still have one game to play in this series—and may be on a collision course to meet in the American League playoffs.


A’s Acorns: The A’s were not pleased that the Tigers saw fit to take aim at some of their coaches during the Pier Six brawl. Noticing that third base coach Irv Noren was wearing a bandage over his black eye, A’s captain Sal Bando expressed his contempt for the guilty Tiger. “Somebody is really gutless to hit a coach,” Bando spewed in a post-game conversation with Bay Area writer Ron Bergman… In addition to picking up two hits and stealing a base, Odom pitched seven innings to earn his 11th win against only four losses. Darold Knowles relieved Odom in the eighth, quietly notching the final six outs for his ninth save… Mangual went 2-for-3 with three RBIs before his ejection. The slumping Bill Voss took his place at the plate and stayed in the game to play the final two innings in right field… Earning his first start since yesterday’s promotion from Triple-A Iowa, George Hendrick went 1-for-4 and played center field without incident… Detroit’s ace, Mickey Lolich, failed badly in his bid to win his 20th game. The Tiger left-hander, who allowed six runs in five innings, saw his record fall to 19-10.


DATE: 08/23

            The A’s may be concerned that the American League has figured out Kenny Holtzman. For the second straight start, the wily left-hander failed to make it past the second inning, lasting a mere inning and a third in Oakland’s 7-5 loss to Detroit. The A’s did rally from an early 7-0 deficit to make a game of it, but even a four-run outburst in the ninth could not prevent Holtzman’s 11th loss of the season; nor could it prevent the A’s from falling out of first place in the American League West.

            The big blow against the A’s was produced by longtime Tigers catcher Bill Freehan, who blasted a grand slam in the second inning to break open the game. Joel Horlen, the first of four A’s relievers, fared little better than Holtzman, allowing two runs in only two-thirds of an inning. Tigers starter Joe Coleman made the advantage hold up, despite struggling in the ninth and needing last-out assistance from Chuck Seelbach, who earned his ninth save.


A’s Acorns: After a sensational first half, Holtzman’s record is now approaching .500. He is 14-11 in his first American League season… Dick Williams did something unusual in making out today’s lineup card. He listed Dick Green as his second baseman and placed him in the seventh spot in the batting order—instead of his usual No. 8 position—then pinch-hit for Green in his first plate appearance. “Don’t give me credit for this,” Williams insisted in an interview with Oakland sportswriter Ron Bergman. “It was Charlie’s [Finley’s] idea. He suggested it, I talked it over with my staff, and we couldn’t see anything wrong in it.” The plan seemed to work best for Green’s replacement at second base, Ted Kubiak, who enjoyed his finest day at the plate since rejoining the A’s in a midsummer trade with the Rangers. Kubiak banged out a double and single in three at-bats, collecting a season-high four RBIs… Williams used five pinch-hitters in an effort to come back from the seven-run hole. Don Mincher, Gonzalo Marquez, Bill Voss, Mike Hegan, and Tim Cullen all made appearances at the plate, with Marquez and Cullen delivering pinch hits.


DATE: 08/24

            The 1972 A’s are off today. Having concluded their long road trip through the Midwest, they return to Oakland for the start of a homestand on Friday night. The A’s, who have dropped out of first place in the American League West, will play host to the Baltimore Orioles, as Jim “Catfish” Hunter opposes Mike Cuellar in the first game of the series.


DATE: 08/25

            The A’s, who at one point enjoyed a stranglehold on the top spot in the American League West, have now fallen out of first place by one full game. While the White Sox saw their game in Milwaukee rained out, the A’s experienced an excruciating defeat, allowing a one-run lead in the ninth inning to turn into a 5-3 loss to the Orioles.

            Powered by home runs from Reggie Jackson (fresh off the disabled list) and Dave Duncan, the A’s took a 3-2 lead into the top of the ninth inning. With Catfish Hunter having pitched five consecutive scoreless innings and still appearing strong, the game appeared well in hand. Well, not so fast. Dave Johnson led off the ninth with a single, then gave way to a pinch-running Mark Belanger, who took second on Johnny Oates’ sacrifice bunt. Orioles manager Earl Weaver then inserted a pinch-hitter, none other than former Athletic Tommy Davis, who was unceremoniously dumped during spring training, apparently because of his friendship with then-holdout Vida Blue. Davis responded with one of his trademark pinch-singles, scoring Belanger with the tying run. Davis then left the game for a pinch-running Tom Shopay, who came home to score the go-ahead run on a triple by Don Buford. The O’s added an insurance run when Buford scored on a wild pitch issued by Rollie Fingers, who had since relieved Hunter during the disastrous inning.


A’s Acorns: Prior to the game, the A’s activated Jackson from the disabled list and demoted journeyman reliever Gary Waslewski to Triple-A Iowa… The A’s’ bullpen, insurmountable during the first half of the season, has played a direct role in two losses over the past six days. On August 19, Waslewski allowed three runs—including the decisive tally—in an ineffective relief stint against the Indians. That performance likely influenced the A’s’ decision to send Waslewski back to the minor leagues today… Jackson now has 22 home runs, while Duncan has 18… The A’s scored their third run on Tim Cullen’s RBI single. “The Worm” collected two of Oakland’s seven hits.


DATE: 08/26

            No longer playing like the “Swingin’ A’s,” the “swooning” A’s have reached a near crisis point in 1972. For the second straight day, the A’s collapsed in the ninth inning, as their defenders played giveaway with the Orioles, all the while falling two games back of the White Sox in the American League West.

            With Blue Moon Odom and Pat Dobson locked in a scoreless pitching duel, the Orioles broke through in the fifth inning, when Bobby Grich singled, stole second base, and scored on Brooks Robinson’s double. The A’s failed to touch Dobson in the fifth, sixth, or seventh innings, but finally did damage in the eighth. Pinch-hitting for reliever Bob Locker, Mike Hegan swatted a double and then came home on Joe Rudi’s RBI single. The rally tied the game at 1-1, and seemed to enliven the A’s as they headed to the ninth.

            With Rollie Fingers on the mound, the playing field at the Oakland Coliseum soon came under siege. Robinson led off with a double, motivating the A’s to intentionally walk No. 8 hitter Johnny Oates. Rather than allow Dobson to remain in the game and attempt a sacrifice bunt, Earl Weaver elected to use his bench. Once again employing former Athletic Tommy Davis as a pinch-hitter, Weaver watched his new acquisition play an indirect role in a second consecutive ninth-inning rally. Davis bounded a routine grounder to shortstop, where Campy Campaneris fielded the ball and flipped to Tim Cullen for the force at second base. Hoping to turn two against the slower-than-average Davis, Cullen threw the ball wildly to first base—marking his second error of the afternoon. As the ball eluded Mike Epstein, Robinson smartly skipped home to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

            The Orioles weren’t finished. Davis surprised the A’s by swiping second, prompting Dick Williams to order an intentional walk of Don Buford. The strategy seemed to work, as Paul Blair followed with a fly ball. Reggie Jackson tried to track the ball in center field, but completely lost sight of it, blinded by a glaring afternoon sun. As Jackson chased the sun-driven double, both Davis and Buford scored to break open the game. The Orioles then tacked on a final run when Terry Crowley singled, scoring Blair from second base.


A’s Acorns: In spite of the error by Cullen and the sun-affected misplay by Jackson, all four runs against Fingers were scored as earned runs… Cullen, who made two errors in a short stint at second base, came into the game after Ted Kubiak left for a pinch-hitter. Kubiak himself replaced starting second baseman Dick Green, who was also lifted for a pinch-hitter. In fact, none of the A’s’ second baseman came to bat during the game, as Dick Williams continued Charlie Finley’s strange rotation of pivotmen… The constant use of pinch-hitters for the second-base spot in the order resulted in a strategic mistake by Williams. In the ninth inning, Williams sent the left-handed hitting Bill Voss to the plate as the batter for Cullen, despite the fact that left-hander Grant Jackson was on the mound for the Orioles. Williams still had two right-handed hitters, including George Hendrick and Gene Tenace, available for use against Jackson, but neither made an appearance. After the game, Williams admitted to the mistake and announced that he was fining himself $100 for the oversight… With the White Sox winning their game against the Brewers, the A’s have dropped two games out in the Western Division. That marks the A’s’ largest deficit since the first month of the season. 

 DATE: 08/27

With the A’s having lost five of their seven games to fall two lengths back in the American League West, with the team not hitting for much of August, and with the third outfield spot—next to Joe Rudi and Reggie Jackson—remaining a glaring weakness—Charlie Finley played another one of his many trading cards today. The A’s perpetually active owner-general manager acquired veteran outfielder and onetime National League batting champion Matty Alou from the St. Louis Cardinals for journeyman outfielder Bill Voss and minor league pitcher Steve Easton.

The A’s have needed a third outfielder for some time now. With players like Felipe Alou (traded to the Yankees in 1971) and Tommy Davis (foolishly released in spring training this year) now wearing the colors of other teams, the A’s’ outfield depth had fallen into disarray. After a sensational spring, minor league veteran Bobby Brooks won the starting center field job, only to slump badly at the plate during the regular season. Last year’s rookie marvel, Angel Mangual, has endured a brutal sophomore season, earmarked by a series of misjudged fly balls in the outfield and a bevy of undisciplined swings at the plate. And top rookie prospect George Hendrick has failed to hit in sporadic duty, despite possessing the strength and quickness in his wrists that some scouts have compared to a young Ernie Banks.

Although the Cardinals feel that the aging Alou is no longer capable of playing the outfield on an everyday basis, the A’s obviously feel differently. While the Cardinals believe that Alou’s poor throwing arm and diminishing range will prevent him from playing an effective center field, Finley and Dick Williams apparently feel that he has retained enough athletic ability left to play right field. As a result, Williams says that he will use Alou as his everyday right fielder, with Reggie Jackson moving to center field on a fulltime basis. Jackson has played much of the time in center field anyway; the acquisition of Alou merely ensures that Jackson will play out the season flanked by Rudi in left and Alou in right.

Even at 33 years old, Alou is still a competent major league hitter, though he lacks power and doesn’t care to draw many walks.  At the time of today’s trade announcement, Alou led the Cardinals with a .314 batting average, a better mark than that of hard-hitting teammates like Joe Torre, Lou Brock, and Ted Simmons.  More impressively, Alou’s batting mark placed him fifth overall in the National League, behind only Cesar Cedeno, Billy Williams, Ralph Garr, and Dusty Baker. The 33-year-old Alou has also retained enough footspeed to steal 11 bases, giving the A’s another potential basestealer to complement Campy Campaneris. 

Setting aside debates over Alou’s abilities at an advancing age, the A’s gave up very little to acquire him. They surrendered Voss, a veteran of seven major league seasons who has never hit more than 10 home runs or batted higher than .261 in a single year, and certainly did not appear to be the answer to the center field-right field quandary.  As for the minor league Easton, the A’s regard him as a decent pitching prospect—but not as talented as Bill “Sugar Bear” Daniels or as advanced as Dennis Myers.

So why were the A’s able to pull off such a one-sided deal in acquiring Alou, the National League’s batting champion in 1967, when he batted .342 batting average for the Pittsburgh Pirates? Well, two factors may be at work. First, the A’s must assume the balance of Alou’s $110,000 contract, which makes him one of the game’s highest paid players. Second, the trade for Alou seems connected to another deal that Finley made with the Cardinals earlier this season. In June, Finley practically gave pitcher Diego Segui to the Cardinals for a small sum of cash—or so it seemed. At the time, the Cardinals fancied themselves contenders in the National League East. Segui proceeded to pitch brilliantly as the Cardinals’ No. 1 reliever, but the team has since faded from the National League East pennant race.  Cardinals general manager Bing Devine, looking to shed salary and rebuild with younger players, might have considered this the right time to repay Finley for the favor of “giving” him Segui earlier in the season. Thus, Alou will wear the green and gold of Oakland for the balance of the season.


A’s Acorns: The acquisition of Alou may have overshadowed Oakland’s on-the-field story today, but the A’s deserve credit for reversing a few trends in their afternoon tilt against the Orioles. The A’s, who had lost five straight games to the Orioles in Oakland this season and eight games in a row dating back to last year, scored a crucial run in the bottom of the eighth inning to pull out a 2-1 victory at the Coliseum. With the score tied at 1-1, Campy Campaneris led off the pivotal inning with a single against starter Dave McNally, who had kept the A’s scoreless over the previous four frames. Joe Rudi, arguably the A’s’ best bunter, then laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Campy into scoring position. Electing to exploit the lefty-lefty matchup rather than set up a double play possibility against Sal Bando, McNally pitched to Reggie Jackson, who pounded out a run-scoring double to give the A’s a one-run lead… The Orioles seemed ready to rally in the ninth, when pinch-hitter Sergio Robles delivered a one-out single in his first big league at-bat. Bob Locker then came on in relief of Darold Knowles and promptly inducted a ground ball from Bobby Grich, resulting in a game-ending double play… Oakland’s win, coupled with Chicago’s ninth-inning loss to Milwaukee, brings the A’s within one game of first place in the Western Division… The A’s played lots of “little ball” today, setting down three sacrifice bunts, one by Rudi and two by Ken Holtzman. Although he failed to earn a decision, Holtzman put forth his most promising effort in weeks, allowing only one run in seven innings… With Voss having been traded and Alou still with the Cardinals, Dick Williams tabbed Angel Mangual as his starting right fielder for today’s finale against the Orioles. Given McNally’s presence on the mound, it’s unlikely that Voss would have started even if he had remained with the team for today’s game.


DATE: 08/28

            A little bit of the old and a little bit of the new each played key roles in giving the A’s one of their most dramatic—and meaningful—victories of the season.  Fighting back from a 2-0 deficit to score all of their runs in a memorable seventh inning, the A’s held on for a 5-2 victory over the Indians. The suspenseful win keeps the A’s just one game back of the first-place White Sox, who won their game against the Red Sox, in the American League West.

            Trailing by two runs in the bottom of the seventh, a comeback didn’t seem likely, given the domination of Indians right-hander Steve “Stunning” Dunning over the first six frames. Still, the A’s had their third, fourth, and fifth-place hitters scheduled to bat. New right fielder Matty Alou, making his Oakland debut after coming over from the Cardinals in a trade 24 hours earlier, led off the inning with a solid single. Pitching carefully to Reggie Jackson, Dunning walked the A’s’ cleanup batter, putting runners on first and second. Both Alou and Jackson advanced on an infield out by Mike Epstein, bringing Sal Bando to the plate. Rather than deal with the Oakland captain, the Indians opted to walk him and load the bases, bringing the much lighter-hitting Ted Kubiak to the plate. The strategy made sense, but paid off only partially as Kubiak drove home a run with a sacrifice fly. With one runner in scoring position and two men out, Dunning now faced Gene Tenace. Producing one of his biggest hits in a season that has seen him play only sparingly in a utility role, Tenace smacked a single to tie the game at 2-2.

            With the pitcher’s spot—occupied by reliever Darold Knowles—scheduled to bat, Dick Williams made a move. He inserted Mike Hegan, one of his best bench players, as a pinch-hitter. That decision resulted in a counter-move by Indians skipper Ken Aspromonte, who plucked Dunning from the game, relieving him with former Athletics left-hander Mike Kilkenny (Remember him?). Opting to play the percentages, Williams lifted Hegan in favor of Angel Mangual, one of the team’s most enigmatic players. Looking every bit like the player who made the Topps All-Rookie team in 1971, Mangual lofted a three-run homer against his former mate, opening up a 5-2 lead for the A’s. Despite a two-run homer by Graig Nettles against Dave Hamilton in the ninth, the lead held up, as Rollie Fingers recorded the final out for his 16th save.


A’s Acorns: Mangual and the rest of the A’s probably don’t remember too much about Kilkenny. “Killer” spent only a week wearing the green and gold before being included in the trade that brought Downtown Ollie Brown to the A’s from the Padres… Now that Alou is in right field and Reggie Jackson is healthy and playing center field, Mangual doesn’t figure to see much playing time in Oakland’s outfield. Yet, he might become an important figure off the bench if he continues to contribute clutch hits like he did against the Tribe tonight… Roy Foster’s two-run homer gave the Indians their initial lead in the sixth inning, before Alou and Mangual delivered the starting and finishing blows in the seventh.

DATE: 08/29

            While Oakland bats continue a lackluster back-and-forth dance that has lasted for most of August, it is A’s pitching that so often carries this team’s collective weight. And it is A’s pitching that has carried the team back into first place in the American League West. Although Oakland’s enigmatic offense managed only one run on eight hits, the combined mound work of Catfish Hunter and Darold Knowles resulted in a taut 1-0 victory over the Indians. The win, coupled with a White Sox loss, puts the A’s back in first place by one-half game in the standings.

            Hunter lasted the first eight and one-third innings, allowing a mere four hits and one walk while striking out five. When fatigue appeared to set in during the ninth, Dick Williams called on Knowles—his most consistent relief pitcher this summer—to notch the final two outs. Knowles earned his 10th save, preserving Hunter’s staff-leading 17th win.

            The only run of the game came in the fifth—at a rather unexpected time. With two outs, no one on, and the eighth and ninth-place hitters scheduled to bat, the A’s suddenly awoke offensively. Gene Tenace singled, moved into scoring position, and raced home on Campy Campaneris’ single. The lone run made a loser of Indians starter Dick Tidrow, who saw his record fall to .500 at 12-and-12.


A’s Acorns: Reggie Jackson laced two hits in three at-bats and also drew a walk… Matty Alou, making his second consecutive start in right field and once again batting third ahead of Jackson, collected one hit in four at-bats. 


DATE: 08/30

            Another night—and another nine innings of great pitching from an array of Oakland starters and relievers. Blue Moon Odom, Darold Knowles, and Rollie Fingers combined to shut down the Indians despite allowing seven hits and five walks, pushing the A’s to a nailbiting 2-0 victory at the Oakland Coliseum. With the second-place White Sox losing their game in Boston, the A’s have now opened up a one-and-a-half game lead in the American League West.

            Over the first six innings, Odom and Indians ace Gaylord Perry matched each other by throwing scoreless ball at the opposition. After Odom retired the Indians in the top of the seventh, the A’s finally did damage against Perry in the bottom half of the inning. Mike Epstein’s 22nd home run of the season gave the A’s a 1-0 advantage. The A’s doubled the lead the next inning, when Ted Kubiak tripled and came home on a single by Knowles, who had bailed out Odom in the top half of the eighth.


A’s Acorns: It’s only fitting in a season that has seen nearly unprecedented player movement involving the first-place A’s that Charlie Finley has made yet another trade—this one just before the September 1st deadline for freezing post-season rosters. In an effort to make one last move to improve his team for the stretch run, Finley has again turned toward the rebuilding St. Louis Cardinals. In a three-player deal, the A’s acquire longtime Redbirds shortstop Dal Maxvill for minor league catcher Joe Lindsey and a player to be named later.  Although the A’s already possess a fine shortstop in Campy Campaneris, they view Maxvill as another option at the troublesome second-base position, which has seen its share of attrition this summer. Dick Green, who is still not 100 per cent, and Larry Brown, who is likely out for the season, have both been sidelined by serious back problems. With Dick Williams’ recent trend toward using a revolving-door policy at second base—involving constant pinch-hitting for his second basemen— Maxvill gives the A’s another player who can man the pivot, in addition to Green, Tim Cullen, and Ted Kubiak. Although never a threatening hitter, Maxvill still possesses reliable defensive skills as a middle infielder and supplies the added bonus of championship experience from his days with the pennant-winning Cardinals of 1967 and ‘68… Joe Rudi sat out tonight’s game due to fatigue. As a result, ex-Cardinal Matty Alou shifted over to left field and the stronger-armed Angel Mangual took Alou’s place in right field. Alou went 0-for-3 at the plate, marking his first hitless game since donning the green and gold.



DATE: 08/31

            The 1972 A’s are off today. They will open up a weekend series tomorrow night against the Tigers. Ken Holtzman, gunning for his 15th win of the season, will oppose right-hander Joe Coleman in the first game at the Coliseum.


DATE: 09/01

            The rest apparently did Joe Rudi well. The A’s’ All-Star left fielder, who has been arguably their best hitter the past two months, sat out Thursday’s game because of fatigue. Apparently refreshed by the day off, and further bolstered by yesterday’s scheduled off day, “Gentlemen Joe” banged out a three-run homer in tonight’s game to lead the A’s to a 4-1 win over the Tigers. Rudi’s third-inning shot gave Ken Holtzman an early cushion, helping him pick up his first win since August 1—exactly one month ago.

            The newly acquired Dal Maxvill, making his A’s debut after coming over in a deadline deal with the Cardinals, started the A’s’ big rally with a single. Campy Campaneris also singled, putting two men on for Rudi, who responded with his 18th home run of the season.

            Holtzman held the Tigers off for the first four innings, before tiring in the next two frames. After allowing a single run in the fifth, Holtzman permitted the first two Tiger batters to reach base in the sixth. Convinced that Holtzman had reached the endpoint of effectiveness, Dick Williams called upon Rollie Fingers. The A’s’ fireman worked out of the jam while keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard, then proceeded to pitch three more shutout innings. Fingers’ four-inning stint, arguably his best of the season, included six strikeouts and earned him his 18th save of the season.


A’s Acorns: After struggling through the mid-section of August, the resurgent A’s have bounced back to win five straight games. They have also opened up a two-and-a-half game lead on the White Sox, who lost their game to the Yankees… Maxvill enjoyed a memorable debut for the A’s. He started the game at second base and batted eighth, but was not removed as part of the Charlie Finley-mandated revolving door at second base, which Dick Williams has been using in recent days. Instead, Maxvill played the entire game; in three plate appearances, he collected two hits and a sacrifice bunt… With roster limits increasing to 40 today, the A’s added one player from the minor leagues. They have recalled minor league journeyman Allan Lewis—the so-called Panamanian Express— who is expected to serve as a pinch-runner.



DATE: 09/02

            Once again, the A’s received strong pitching efforts from both their starters and their relievers, but they couldn’t stave off an extra-inning loss to the Tigers. Dave Hamilton, the only ineffective pitcher amongst a quartet of hurlers, allowed two sole home runs in the 11th inning, as the A’s fell this afternoon, 3-1.

            The A’s scored their only run of the game in the third, taking a 1-0 lead on a walk to Campy Campaneris, a wild pickoff attempt, and a single by the rejuvenated Joe Rudi. Vida Blue kept the Tigers scoreless until the seventh, when he surrendered a double to the light-hitting Eddie Brinkman and a game-tying single to Mickey Lolich.

            Bob Locker and Darold Knowles then came on for the A’s and held the Tigers at bay through the 10th inning. Hamilton came on to pitch the 11th, giving up a leadoff home run to Bill Freehan. Two outs later, Mickey Stanley touched Hamilton for another home run, giving the Tigers their final margin of victory.


A’s Acorns: Rudi went 4-for-4, including his RBI single… Lolich failed in his fifth bid at 20 wins. The one run that he allowed was unearned, the result of his own throwing error on the attempted pickoff of Campaneris… For the first time since Dal Maxvill joined the team, Dick Williams rotated his second basemen. Maxvill started the game and took two turns at-bat before being lifted for a pinch-hitter, rookie Gonzalo Marquez. Tim Cullen then came into the game and took one at-bat before being lifted at the expense of Dave Duncan. Williams used a total of five pinch-hitters on the afternoon… Allan “The Panamanian Express” Lewis made his 1972 A’s debut, appearing in the game as a pinch-runner for Don Mincher.

DATE: 09/03

            The last 24 at-bats had failed to yield a single hit for Sal Bando. The last two weeks had failed to produce a single RBI for the A’s’ captain. Well, Bando ended both droughts tonight, hitting a tiebreaking solo home run in the fifth inning to spearhead a 3-1 victory over the Tigers.

            Batting out of the seventh spot in the order against Tiger starter Bill Slayback, Bando ripped his 13th home run to break a 1-1 tie. The A’s tacked on another run when Dal Maxvill singled and Catfish Hunter singled, and Campy Campaneris laid down a picture-perfect squeeze bunt.

            Hunter allowed only one run by the Tigers, coming on a double by Bill Freehan and a single by Tony Taylor in the second inning. “The Cat” coasted the rest of the way, throwing shutout ball over the next six innings to finish off a complete-game four-hitter. With Vida Blue struggling after his holdout and Ken Holtzman suffering through a second-half swoon, Hunter has emerged as the unquestioned ace of the Oakland staff. His record is now 18-7, putting him within easy range of the 20-win circle, which he first achieved last summer.


A’s Acorns: Allan Lewis came into the game as a pinch-runner for Mike Epstein and stole his first base since his recall from the minor leagues. “The Panamanian Express” spent most of the season with the Double-A Birmingham A’s … Maxvill went 1-for-2 before being lifted for pinch-hitter Mike Hegan, who then took over for the departed Epstein at first base… After spending much of the season as a backup catcher-first baseman-right fielder, Gene Tenace has emerged as the A’s’ No. 1 catcher—at least for the time being. Tenace went 1-for-4 in tonight’s game, driving in Epstein for Oakland’s first run of the game.


DATE: 09/04

            Win or lose, the A’s’ offense has muddled through too many bouts of dormancy since the All-Star break. In today’s opening game of a doubleheader, Oakland hitters looked more like Charlie Finley’s self-proclaimed “Swingin’ A’s,” breaking through for eight runs in the first two innings on the way to a 10-5 rout of the California Angels. And then just as quickly, the A’s’ bats went silent in the nightcap, resulting in a 2-1 loss and a split of the twinbill at the Oakland Coliseum. 

            In the first game, the A’s scored four runs in the first inning and four more in the second, knocking Angels starter Clyde “Skeeter” Wright from the game. During the second-inning uprising, Matty Alou and Gene Tenace each rocked two home runs, with Alou going deep for the first time as a member of the A’s. Even Blue Moon Odom entered the home run parade, hitting his second home run of the season to finish out the A’s’ scoring and support his own pitching effort. On the mound, Odom pitched shutout ball through the first seven innings, before giving up a five-spot in the eighth. Dick Williams let the right-hander work out of the late-inning jam, allowing him to pick up a complete game.

            The A’s appeared ready to continue their offensive onslaught in the second game, tallying a first-inning run against Nolan Ryan, snapping the flamethrower’s streak of 34 consecutive scoreless innings. Then Ryan reverted to recent form, blanking A’s hitters over the next eight frames. In the meantime, the Angels nicked A’s spot starter Joel Horlen for single runs in the fifth and sixth, with one of the runs resulting from an error by Sal Bando. Horlen pitched well, but took his fourth loss in six decisions.


A’s Acorns: Odom is making himself a strong candidate for American League Comeback Player of the Year honors. With the win in the lidlifter, Odom improved his record to 13-and-4. He went only 10-and-12 last year, with an ERA over 4.00… Matty Alou, who batted third and played right field in both ends of the doubleheader, enjoyed his best game since joining the A’s. In the opener, Alou went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs… Not known for his defensive abilities and used almost exclusively as a pinch-runner in the major leagues, Allan Lewis received some playing time in the outfield during the latter stages of the first game. With the A’s holding a big lead, Lewis spelled Joe Rudi in left field and proceeded to commit an error. Rudi, who is a candidate for the Gold Glove Award, has made only two errors all season long.

 DATE: 09/05

            The 1972 A’s are off today. They will open up a critical two-game series against the Chicago White Sox tomorrow night at Comiskey Park. The Sox trail the A’s by three games in the American League West.

            The A’s did announce several player moves during the off day. With rosters now expanded to the 40-man limit as of September 1, the A’s have promoted catcher Gene Dusan and pitchers Chris Floethe, Dennis Myers, Don Shaw, and Gary Waslewski from the Triple-A Iowa Oaks. They have also recalled pitchers Chuck Dobson, Gil Marcano, and Pat Tatom from the Class-AA Birmingham Barons. Dobson was expected to make the A’s’ Opening Day roster this season, but found himself slowed in his spring training effort to come back from off-season elbow surgery.


DATE: 09/06

            Sometimes first-inning results can be a bit deceiving, as they were in this afternoon’s showdown between the top two teams in the American League West. The A’s failed to score in the top half of the first against White Sox starter Tom Bradley and then watched their own starter, Ken Holtzman, run into the kind of immediate first-inning troubles that have plagued him during the second half of the season. With one man out, Holtzman walked the next batter, allowed a single to American League MVP candidate Dick Allen, and then permitted a two-out RBI single to Carlos May. Fortunately for the A’s, Holtzman ended the damage there, retiring Ed Spiezio to douse the rally.

            The A’s responded well to the early deficit. Reggie Jackson and Mike Epstein started the top of the second by reaching on solid singles. Dick Williams, in a debatable move, then asked the hot-hitting Gene Tenace to lay down a bunt, which he did successfully. With two runners now in scoring position, Sal Bando dumped a double into an outfield seam, giving the A’s a 2-1 lead.

            Oakland momentum continued in the third—and then some. Campy Campaneris reached base on an error by second baseman Mike Andrews. Joe Rudi followed with a two-run blast—his 19th home run of the season—knocking Bradley from the game. Now facing the hard-throwing rookie Rich “Goose” Gossage, the A’s continued the pile-on. Matty Alou singled, Reggie Jackson doubled, and Mike Epstein and Gene Tenace each draw walks, forcing in another run and sending Gossage to an almost immediate exit. Another young reliever, Steve Kealey, issued a third consecutive walk, forcing home the fourth run of the inning. Williams then opted for another piece of unorthodox strategy. Despite holding a 6-1 lead, Williams went for the kill and inserted Don Mincher as a pinch-hitter for Dal Maxvill. “The Mule,” who has struggled since joining the “Mustache Gang,” delivered one of his most productive hit as an Athletic—a two-run single that capped off the inning. The A’s added one more run in the fourth to wrap up the scoring; in the meantime, Holtzman settled down to blank the ChiSox over the final eight frames in posting a 9-1 victory at Comiskey Park. With the win, the A’s improve their Western Division lead to four games over the White Sox.


A’s Acorns: After pinch-hitting Mincher for Maxvill, Williams elected to keep Ted Kubiak in the game at second base the rest of the way. The A’s currently have three second basemen on their expanded roster, including Tim Cullen. Two other second basemen, Dick Green and Larry Brown, are on the disabled list… Jackson went 3-for-5, including a double and his team-leading 23rd home run… Epstein went 3-for-4 and Tenace added a 2-for-4 day, giving the four-five-and six spots in the order a combined eight hits in 12 at-bats… In contrast, Epstein and Tenace played poorly in the field, with each man committing an error. Yet, the miscues did not hurt Holtzman, who earned his 16th win… Holtzman and Epstein, the A’s’ two Jewish players, each wore black armbands in memory of the Israeli athletes slaughtered at the Olympic Games in Munich. Reggie Jackson, who has no Jewish heritage, also wore an armband in honor of the slain athletes… Bando, who had been slumping, has broken out with two big games in a row. He drove in three of Oakland’s nine runs this afternoon… Although the September 1st deadline for freezing postseason rosters has come and gone, Charlie Finley continues to make additional player moves. The A’s re-acquired veteran catcher Larry Haney from the San Diego Padres today, sending an undisclosed amount of cash to the National League team. The A’s had released Haney in late May before assigning his contract to the Hawaii Islanders, the Padres’ top affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. With the addition of Haney, the A’s now have four catchers, including holdovers Gene Tenace and Dave Duncan and recent minor league call-up Gene Dusan.



DATE: 09/07

            The A’s still hold the advantage in the American League West, but the White Sox hold the likely winner of the AL’s Most Valuable Player Award. Dick Allen continued his torrid 1972 season by driving in four of Chicago’s runs, as the White Sox defeated the A’s, 6-0. Allen’s day—highlighted by a three-run homer and a sacrifice fly—supported Wilbur Wood’s league-leading 24th win of the season. With the victory, the White Sox salvage a split of their two-game series with the A’s and climb back to within three games of the Western Division lead.

            The White Sox dented an ineffective Vida Blue for a first-inning run, thanks to singles by Walt “No-Neck” Williams and Mike Andrews, and Allen’s sacrifice fly. Blue allowed two more runs in the fourth inning before leaving for a pinch-hitter and turning the game over to the A’s’ bullpen. In the bottom of the seventh, Allen clubbed a three-run homer against Rollie Fingers, cementing a 6-0 lead. Allen now leads the American League with 33 roundtrippers. 


A’s Acorns: Matty Alou and Reggie Jackson each had two hits for the A’s, but the rest of the lineup did little against the knuckleballing Wood, who scattered seven hits and surrendered only one walk. Wood is now 24-12… Campy Campaneris stole a pair of bases against the combination of Wood and catcher Ed Hermann.

 DATE: 09/08

            Mike Epstein is continuing his quest to prove Earl Weaver wrong for not including him on this year’s All-Star team. Oakland’s outspoken first baseman, whose bat has made sounds as loud as his voice this season, banged out four hits and four RBIs to lead the A’s to a 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers in tonight’s game at Turnpike Stadium.

            The Rangers took the early lead on Jim Mason’s two-run double against Catfish Hunter in the bottom of the second. That score changed two innings later, when Epstein stepped to the plate with two runners aboard and smashed his 23rd home run of the season.  The A’s then added two more runs in the eighth and one in the ninth, when Epstein doubled against former A’s reliever Jim Roland. Dick Williams then gave Epstein the rest of the night off, lifting him in favor of pinch-runner Allan Lewis.

            After the early hiccup, Hunter kept the Rangers scoreless over the next four and two-thirds innings. He then gave way to Darold Knowles, who collected the final seven outs of the game to record his 11th save.


A’s Acorns: Several former members of the A’s’ organization played in tonight’s game for the Rangers. In addition to Roland, veteran reliever Paul Lindblad pitched two-thirds of an inning, Marty Martinez made a pinch-hitting appearance, and Vic Harris played the entire game at second base… Epstein collected two doubles as part of his four-hit night… Sal Bando and Campy Campaneris each had two hits… The A’s used three second baseman in tonight’s game. Dal Maxvill started and took two turns at-bat before giving way to pinch-hitter Dave Duncan. Ted Kubiak had one at-bat before being lifted for Angel Mangual, who delivered a pinch-single. Tim Cullen then finished out the game at second base, but did not come to the plate. 


DATE: 09/09

            The A’s’ failure to shut down the running game cost them dearly in tonight’s game against the Rangers. Texas stole three bases, including a critical double steal in the second inning, which proved to be the difference in Oakland’s 3-2 loss at Turnpike Stadium.

            The Rangers nicked Blue Moon Odom for two runs in the first, before padding the lead in the next inning. Odom allowed a double to Dave Nelson and then hit Joe Lovitto with a pitch. The two runners promptly stole bases, putting runners on second and third with less than two outs. Larry Biittner then lofted a fly ball, deep enough to score Nelson with what would prove to be the game-winning run. The A’s did score a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, but could manage nothing further against a trio of Ranger pitchers. Paul Lindblad and Horacio Pina combined to hurl five innings of scoreless relief, with Lindblad earning the win and Pina notching his 15th save.


A’s Acorns: Former A’s minor league Don Stanhouse started the game but lasted only four innings, thus disqualifying himself from picking up a victory… The A’s managed only two hits against Ranger pitching. Campy Campaneris went 1-for-4 while Dave Duncan went 1-for-3… A strong case can be made for Odom as the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year, but not based on tonight’s results. Blue Moon lasted only an inning and a third before being lifted by Dick Williams. Dave Hamilton, Bob Locker, and Rollie Fingers succeeded Odom, with each reliever pitching scoreless ball.

 DATE: 09/10

For the second time this year, the A’s couldn’t “handle” Texas right-hander Rich Hand, but a questionable managerial decision opened the door for a late rally against a pair of former A’s minor leaguers—and a 2-1 victory over the Rangers.

            Hand held the A’s to one run over the first seven innings and enjoyed a 2-1 lead, but Rangers manager Ted Williams elected to pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the seventh. Williams then turned the game ball over to young right-handers Jim Panther and Steve Lawson, who had started spring training as members of the A’s’ minor league corps. The results soon turned very ugly for the lowly Rangers. Panther allowed four runs in a third of an inning, though in fairness to him, all of the runs were deemed unearned because of infield errors by Toby Harrah and Vic Harris. Lawson allowed a run in only a third of an inning, while Pete Broberg also surrendered a run before finally notching the third out of the fateful frame.


A’s Acorns: The top of the A’s’ order did most of the damage against a quartet of Texas pitchers. Leadoff man Campy Campaneris logged two hits in five at-bats, while scoring a run and driving in another. No. 3 hitter Matty Alou went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, as well… Gene Tenace and Sal Bando committed errors for the A’s, but neither miscue resulted in a run scoring for the Rangers… Rollie Fingers, pitching two innings in relief of Ken Holtzman, earned his eighth win against six losses. Bob Locker worked the final two innings, both scoreless, to notch his ninth save… Dick Williams employed two pinch-runners in tonight’s game and both stole bases. Blue Moon Odom, pinch-running for Mike Epstein, and Allan Lewis, subbing for pinch-hitter Gonzalo Marquez, each swiped bases against Rangers catcher Dick Billings.


DATE: 09/11

            Most A’s fans remember Rich Reese as the pinch-hitter whom Catfish Hunter struck out to finish off his perfect game in 1968. After tonight’s doubleheader against Minnesota, some of those fans may harbor far more bitter memories of the Twins’ veteran first baseman.

            Having entered each game as a defensive replacement for Harmon Killebrew, Reese delivered the game-winning hit in the first game and then worked a bases-loaded walk in the nightcap to force home the winning run. Reese’s late-inning heroics sent the A’s to a pair of losses, 2-1 and 3-2, at Metropolitan Stadium. In the process, the A’s lost a game and a half in the standings to the Chicago White Sox, who won tonight to move within two and a half games of the first-place A’s.

            In the opener, “Killer” Killebrew gave the Twins an early lead with a first-inning RBI single against Vida Blue. The A’s’ lineup was held scoreless until the ninth, when captain Sal Bando lofted a solo home run against sidearming right-hander Wayne Granger. In the bottom of the ninth, the Twins struck quickly against the usually effective A’s bullpen. Danny Thompson led off the inning with a single and scored all the way from first on Reese’s double. That left Rollie Fingers with the loss—and an ugly line of no innings, two batters faced, one hit, one walk, and one run. 

            In the nightcap, the Twins once again jumped on the A’s for a first-inning run. The A’s twice rallied to tie the score, making it 2-2 with a run in the top of the eighth. With the bottom portion of the Twins’ order coming to bat in the bottom half of the inning, the A’s appeared to be in good shape.

This time, Rollie Fingers retired the first two batters he faced before running into trouble. With the bases empty, he walked the speedy Cesar Tovar. Rod Carew then hit a ground ball to the right side, which Mike Epstein mishandled for an error. With two left-handed batters scheduled to follow, Williams hooked Fingers from the game and waved in Darold Knowles. The A’s’ best reliever this season, Knowles uncharacteristically misplaced the location of the strike zone. He walked both Braun and Reese to force in what proved to be the game-deciding run.


A’s Acorns: The A’s could place most of the blame for the doubleheader sweep on the shoulders of their flickering offense. Oakland managed 10 hits in the first game, including two by Bando, but left nine runners on base. The offense looked even worse in the second game, scraping only six hits against the curveball offerings of Bert Blyleven, who struck out 10 in forging a complete-game victory. To make matters worse, the “Swingin’ A’s did too much “swingin” on the night, drawing a grand total of two walks in 18 innings.


DATE: 09/12

            The near-deadline deal that brought Matty Alou to the Bay Area paid major dividends for the A’s tonight. Alou enjoyed his best game since joining Oakland in late August, driving in four runs with two singles and a sacrifice fly.  Alou’s timely hitting sent the A’s to an important 7-4 victory over the Twins.

            With the game scoreless in the top of the third, Alou strode to the plate and smacked a two-run single to give the A’s the lead. Alou’s clutch single didn’t hold up for long, however, as the Twins doubled the A’s’ output with a four-run spurt in the bottom of the fourth. Harmon Killebrew highlighted the big inning with a three-run homer—his 24th of the season—against Catfish Hunter.

            An unusually ineffective Hunter left the game in the top of the fifth, when Dick Williams decided to play his pinch-hitting cards early. Williams first inserted Gonzalo Marquez as a pinch-hitter for Dal Maxvill; the recent call-up from Triple-A delivered a leadoff single. Williams then replaced Hunter with Don Mincher, who also singled. With runners now on first and second, Williams made another move, substituting Blue Moon Odom as the pinch-runner for Marquez. After a Campy Campaneris groundout forced Mincher at second, Odom came around to score, as did Campy with the tying run, when Joe Rudi rattled a two-run triple. Matty Alou contributed another critical at-bat by lofting a sacrifice fly, scoring Rudi with the go-ahead run.

            The A’s added another run to increase the lead to two, a margin that seemed like 20 given the effectiveness of Darold Knowles. The A’s’ unheralded relief ace turned in his longest stint of the season, a brilliant five shutout innings to earn his fifth win in six decisions.


A’s Acorns: The top three hitters in Oakland’s batting order—Campaneris, Rudi, and Alou—combined to produce six RBIs, four runs scored, and six hits in 13 at-bats. Campaneris also stole two bases… Gene Tenace, batting sixth and catching, had a productive game with two hits and an RBI in five at-bats… Oakland won the game despite committing four errors, all by members of the infield. Campaneris, Tenace, Mike Epstein, Sal Bando stepped forward as the defensive culprits, but the foursome of errors led to only one unearned run.

DATE: 09/13

            The number five came up frequently for the A’s tonight. For the first five innings, the A’s mustered only a single hit against Minnesota starter Dave Goltz. Then in the sixth inning, the Oakland offense erupted for five runs, breaking a scoreless tie and spearheading an 8-0 victory at Metropolitan Stadium. In the meantime, Blue Moon Odom issued five walks to Twins batters, but managed to sidestep a few rallies and forge a complete-game shutout.

            Appropriately enough, leadoff man Campy Campaneris sparked the game-breaking rally. Campaneris singled to start the sixth and moved up to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Joe Rudi. Matty Alou, whose bat has picked up steam in recent days, singled to drive home Campaneris with the first run of the game. Goltz then allowed a single to Reggie Jackson and a walk to Mike Epstein to load the bases. Rattled by the free pass, Goltz committed a balk, permitting Alou to score the inning’s second run. Goltz then walked Bando to re-load the bases.

            With starting second baseman Dal Maxvill scheduled to bat and Dick Williams sensing the chance for a big inning, the Oakland skipper called on his most efficient pinch-hitter in recent weeks. Impressive rookie Gonzalo Marquez didn’t hit the ball hard, but placed it well enough to reach base on an infield single, bringing home another run in the process. Twins second baseman Rod Carew tried to make a play on Marquez at first base, but threw the ball wildly, allowing two more runs to score. The miscue increased Oakland’s lead to five runs. The A’s then added three more runs in the ninth inning to close out the scoring.


A’s Acorns: Epstein went 2-for-2 with a walk and a run scored before being pulled in favor of pinch-runner Allan Lewis. Mike Hegan then came on to finish the game at first base… Matty Alou, continuing his recent surge after a slow start to his American League career, went 2-for-5… Odom, who improved to 14-and-4 on the year, ranks among the top 10 AL pitchers in ERA.


DATE: 09/14

            The 1972 A’s have the day off as they return to the Oakland Coliseum for the start of a homestand. The A’s will begin a three-game set with the Texas Rangers tomorrow night. Ken Holtzman will oppose former Athletics farmhand Don Stanhouse (part of the pre-season Denny McLain deal) in the opener of the weekend series.

   DATE: 09/15

For much of September, the struggles of Matty Alou have concerned the A’s.  In his first 17 games with Oakland, he batted a mediocre .266.  Given his lack of power and unwillingness to draw many walks, the A’s need a higher average from Alou, their No. 3 hitter against most pitchers.  Some writers have reasoned that Alou, a line-drive, ground-ball hitter, misses playing on the artificial turf of St. Louis’ Busch Memorial Stadium.  For his part, Alou disagrees with such an assessment.  “When you’ve got more than 1,500 hits in your career, you’ve got to have all sorts of hits,” Alou explained to Ron Bergman, “line-drive hits, high-bouncing hits, bunts.  There are 300 players over there in the National League, and they don’t have that many guys hitting .300, do they?” Furthermore, Alou once won a batting title while playing the majority of his games on natural grass. More than likely, Alou has simply suffered in his transition to the American League because of his lack of knowledge of opposition pitchers.

            Perhaps that transition period has come to and end. In tonight’s game against the Rangers, Alou batted in four runs with a bases-clearing double and a sacrifice fly, leading the A’s to a 12-3 romp of Texas. Making the most of his one official at-bat, Alou helped Ken Holtzman match a career high with his 17th victory of the season.

            Mike Epstein also made the most of his one official at-bat, clubbing a three-run homer, his 24th of the season. Oakland’s offense made mincemeat of a quartet of Ranger pitchers, including former A’s farmhand Don Stanhouse, who have up three runs before departing after an inning and two thirds. Reliever Rich Hinton then gave up seven runs, although all were deemed unearned because of a bevy of errors by the Rangers’ infield. Another former Oakland prospect, Steve Lawson, gave up the final two runs against the A’s, who pounded out 12 hits on the night.


A’s Acorns: In 18 games since joining the A’s from the Cardinals, Alou has picked up two four-RBI nights… With his 24th home run, Epstein has overtaken Reggie Jackson for the team lead… Joe Rudi scored four of the A’s’ 12 runs…. While Lawson and Stanhouse struggled against their former organization, another former A’s pitching prospect did well in tonight’s blowout. Right-hander Jim “Pink” Panther allowed two hits and no runs in two and a third innings… Holtzman scattered seven hits and issued two walks in notching the complete-game win. The former Chicago Cub has won 17 games twice before in his career, once in 1969 and again in 1970.



DATE: 09/16

            Vida Blue has become the forgotten man of the Oakland pitching staff. After spending much of last season in the national spotlight while threatening the 30-win plateau, Blue has seen himself rendered to the fourth spot in the starting rotation this year—behind the dominant threesome of Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Ken Holtzman, and Blue Moon Odom.  Furthermore, Blue hasn’t won a game since August 13, leading some to speculate that his immediate future may reside in the bullpen.

            Well, perhaps not so fast. In tonight’s game against the Rangers, Blue showed that he can still dominate opposing hitters, as much as anyone on Oakland’s staff. Blue fired a two-hitter against the Rangers, as the A’s earned a comfortable 4-0 win at the Oakland Coliseum.

            Unlike other masterful performances in his past, Blue didn’t overpower the Rangers with the strikeout pitch. In fact, he fanned only two batters, but his control more than made up for the lack of electricity, as he walked only one Ranger.

The A’s gave Blue an early lead in the second, with Charlie Finley’s strange merry-go-round at second base paying dividends. After Mike Epstein set the table with a double, Dick Williams pinch-hit for starting second baseman Dal Maxvill. Former Ranger Don Mincher made the strategy look good, driving home Epstein with a deadlock-breaking single. The A’s added two more runs in the fourth, one on Epstein’s 25th home run of the season and the other on a double by Ted Kubiak, Oakland’s second second baseman of the day. The A’s finished up the scoring in the eighth, when Reggie Jackson pounded out his 24th home run of the season.

A’s Acorns: Campy Campaneris, Allan Lewis, and Mike Hegan (an unlikely candidate) each stole bases for the A’s. Lewis entered the game as a pinch-runner after Mincher’s RBI single… For the second straight night, the Rangers used four pitchers against the A’s. The contingent once again included a former Athletic, as Jim Roland came in to pitch a third of an inning.

DATE: 09/17

            Apparently, Catfish Hunter’s 20-win season in 1970 was no fluke. Now firmly established as Oakland’s ace, the veteran right-hander reached the victory milestone for the second straight year with a masterful 4-1 victory over the Rangers this afternoon. Buttressed by Hunter’s latest clutch performance, the A’s now enjoy a five-game lead over the Chicago White Sox, who lost their afternoon game to the California Angels.

In putting forth one of his most dominating performances of 1972, Hunter struck out six and allowed only three Rangers to earn their way on base, one via a walk and two by hits. One of the runners came home to score—in the very first inning. Pesky leadoff man Dave Nelson, who has proved troublesome to the A’s all summer long, reached Hunter for a single, promptly stole second, moved up to third on a groundout, and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Larry Biittner.

            For awhile it looked like the one run might prove costly to Hunter. His counterpart, unheralded right-hander Bill “Go Go” Gogolewski, kept the A’s scoreless over the first three innings. After an unsuccessful turn through the batting order, the A’s took advantage of Gogolewski the second time around. The A’s broke through with a two-run rally in the fourth, then padded the lead with single runs in the sixth and seventh. Gene Tenace accounted for half of the runs with a pair of RBI doubles.


A’s Acorns: Hunter becomes the first pitcher in franchise history since Hall of Famer Lefty Grove—of Philadelphia A’s fame—to win 20 games in consecutive seasons… Oakland’s late-season acquisitions continue to contribute to the pennant push. Matty Alou, picked up from St. Louis in late August, enjoyed another productive game with a double, a run scored, and an RBI n three at-bats. Backup first baseman Gonzalo Marquez, recalled from Triple-A Iowa in August, drove home a run with a sacrifice fly… A’s broadcaster Monte Moore has dubbed Marquez “Mandrake the Magician” for his ability to swat hits to all fields.


DATE: 09/18

            The 1972 A’s are off today. They will return to action tomorrow night, when they begin a critical two-game series against the Chicago White Sox. Blue Moon Odom will oppose right-hander Tom “Fry” Bradley in the first game of the series at the Oakland Coliseum. Led by MVP candidate Dick Allen, the White Sox trail the A’s by five games in the American League West. Realistically, the White Sox need to win both games in order to maintain hopes of catching the A’s during the final two weeks of the season.

   DATE: 09/20

            If the A’s go on to win the American League West, they may be able to point to tonight’s game as the one that cinched it for them. Coming off the emotional low of a 15-inning loss to the second-place Chicago White Sox, the A’s rebounded with a solid 6-3 win at the Oakland Coliseum. With the win, the A’s regained their five-game lead in the West—a lead that may be almost insurmountable for the White Sox given the diminishing days on the regular season calendar.

Reggie Jackson and Sal Bando staked the A’s to a 3-0 lead by clubbing second-inning home runs against White Sox ace Wilbur Wood, who was seeking his 25th win of the season. Undeterred, the White Sox drew to within one run on back-to-back home runs by Rick Reichardt and Carlos May in the fourth inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, the A’s put together another rally—this time without the benefit of a home run. Singles by Campy Campaneris, Joe Rudi, and Reggie Jackson, in tandem with an error by first baseman Dick Allen and a wild pitch by Wood, returned the lead to three runs. And when the White Sox countered with a run in the top of the sixth, the A’s demoralized them with another run of their own.

Ken Holtzman pitched creditably, allowing only two earned runs in five and a third, but it was Rollie Fingers who saved the day with a yeoman’s effort out of the bullpen. Fingers worked out of Holtzman’s jam in the sixth, limiting the damage to one run, and then blanked the White Sox over the final three innings. 


A’s Acorns: Jackson now has 25 home runs, tying him with Mike Epstein for the team lead… Bando, who has gone through several protracted power outages, now has 15 home runs on the season… Incredible, Dick Williams used only reserve player in tonight’s game, this after using a record total of 30 players in Tuesday night’s loss. Dal Maxvill played the entire game at second base, as Williams decided to forego his recent tendency to pinch-hit for his middle infield spot.


DATE: 09/21

            The 1972 A’s are off today. They will continue their homestand tomorrow night against the Kansas City Royals. Vida Blue will gun for his seventh win, opposed by Royals right-hander Dick Drago, an 11-game winner.


DATE: 09/22

            Perhaps the A’s suffered a letdown after their crucial two-game series with the White Sox earlier in the week. Allowing four runs during an eighth-inning tie-breaking collapse, Vida Blue and the A’s fell to the Royals, 5-3. The A’s’ loss, coupled with Chicago’s win over Texas, reduces Oakland’s lead to four games in the American League West.

            The Royals took an early 1-0 lead in the third, only to watch the A’s respond with a deadlocking run in the fourth on Sal Bando’s RBI single. The game remained tied until the top of the eighth, when Blue had to deal with the upper half of Kansas City’s lineup. Blue allowed a single to Paul Schaal, a walk to Amos Otis, and an RBI single to Richie Scheinblum. Although Blue appeared to be tiring, Dick Williams opted to keep him in the game against the left-handed hitting John Mayberry, the Royals’ massive cleanup man. The result? Mayberry’s 22nd home run—a three-run shot—gave the Royals a 5-1 lead and made Oakland’s two-run rally in the bottom of the inning rather anticlimactic.


A’s Acorns: Bando drove in all three of the A’s’ runs, bringing home a pair in the eighth with a double against Dick Drago… Gene Tenace has hit well since becoming Oakland’s No. 1 catcher, but his defensive play has been lackluster from time to time. He made two errors in tonight’s game, leading to an unearned run against Blue… Blue was not sharp in tonight’s game, allowing six walks in picking up his ninth loss. The A’s’ former ace, who won 24 games last season, has won only quarter of that total (6) this summer.

DATE: 09/23

            More than any other major league owner, Charlie Finley believes in the power of having speed off the bench. That explains why a one-dimensional journeyman player named Allan Lewis has enjoyed gainful employment with the A’s off and on over the past several years. And it was Lewis who played a small but essential role in leading the A’s to a 2-1 victory over the Royals in today’s game at the Oakland Coliseum.

            The Royals and A’s each scored in the fourth inning, with Kansas City’s run coming on John Mayberry’s 23rd home run and Oakland’s tally occurring an RBI double by Reggie Jackson. The game remained tied until the ninth, when Rollie Fingers retired the Royals in the top half of the inning. The A’s then went to work against Kansas City starter Paul Splittorff in the bottom half of the frame. Matty Alou, whose name is becoming synonymous with timely hitting as a member of the green and gold, led off with a double. Then, in a surprising move, the speedy Alou left the game in favor of an even faster runner—none other than Allan Lewis. With the right-handed hitting Joe Rudi—a skilled bunter and excellent right-field hitter—now scheduled to bat, the Royals elected to intentionally walk him and bring the lefty-swinging Reggie Jackson to the plate. Dick Williams decided to make another unconventional move and ordered his cleanup man to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Jackson did so, pushing the ball down the third base line. Royals third baseman Paul Schaal, realizing he needed to rush a throw to catch the blazing Lewis at third, threw the ball wildly past Freddie Patek, who had moved over from his position at shortstop to cover the bag. As the errant throw trickled down the left field line, Lewis scampered home with the winning run.


A’s Acorns: The A’s continue to lead the American League West by four games over the Chi Sox, who won their game against the lowly Rangers… For the first time since his acquisition from St. Louis, Alou batted in the second spot, followed by Joe Rudi. The new order didn’t seem to bother Rudi, who went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Prior to today’s game, Rudi had always batted second and Alou third… In taking a no-decision, Catfish Hunter was uncharacteristically wild. He issued five walks in seven innings… Rollie Fingers earned the victory with an inning and a third of shutout relief.


DATE: 09/24

            Sometimes good starting pitching isn’t enough. Oakland starters combined to give up only two runs in 13 innings during today’s doubleheader, but managed only a split against the youthful Royals and saw their divisional lead over the White Sox diminish to three and a half games. Even the split took some doing, with the A’s handed a gift of an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth inning of game two.

            The Royals took charge in the first game, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh against relievers Darold Knowles and Bob Locker. That gave the Royals a 4-0 lead, which the A’s could not fully overcome. The A’s did plate a pair of runs in the ninth against a tiring Monty Montgomery, but the Royals right-hander otherwise held Oakland’s lineup in check. Despite giving up only one run over six innings, a hard-luck Blue Moon Odom absorbed a 4-2 loss—only his sixth defeat against 14 wins.

            In the nightcap, the A’s once again failed to hit, mustering only a single run against right-hander Tom Murphy over the first eight innings. In the meantime, up-and-down rookie Dave Hamilton pitched well for Oakland, allowing only run through seven innings.

With the score tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Matty Alou poked a one-out single. When Reggie Jackson followed with another single, Alou made a costly gamble and raced for third, only to be gunned down for the first out of the inning. Jackson tried to atone for Alou’s uncharacteristic baserunning mistake by stealing second, putting himself in scoring position. The Royals then decided to walk Mike Epstein intentionally, but on ball four, an alert Jackson swiped third against an unsuspecting Kansas City defense. With second base now open, the Royals summoned right-hander Ted Abernathy from the bullpen and intentionally walked the next batter, Gene Tenace, loading the bases for Sal Bando. The A’s’ captain lofted a fly ball to relatively shallow right field, apparently not deep enough to score the winning run. As former Athletic Steve Hovley threw home, Jackson made only a bluff from third, realizing that the ball had not carried far enough for him to score. Maintaining his awareness, Jackson realized that Hovley had made a poor throw, sailing wide of the plate. As the ball eluded catcher Carl “Hawk” Taylor, an alert Jackson raced home with the game-winning run in a 2-1 decision. 


A’s Acorns: The White Sox defeated the Rangers, 7-4, to pick up a half-game on the A’s in the standings… Rollie Fingers pitched two scoreless innings in the nightcap to earn his 10th win of the season. After a midsummer swoon, Fingers has emerged as Oakland’s most dominant reliever—ahead of Darold Knowles and Bob Locker… In addition to his astute baserunning in the second game, Jackson collected three hits in eight at-bats over the course of the doubleheader. He scored two runs and drove in another… Matty Alou went 3-for-8 in the two games.


DATE: 09/25

            The 1972 A’s were scheduled to play the opening game of a series against the Minnesota Twins tonight, but rains wiped out the matchup. The two teams will try again tomorrow night.

DATE: 09/26

            If the rains don’t abate in the Bay Area, the A’s may never get a chance to clinch the American League West. For the second straight day, inclement weather prevented the A’s from hosting the Twins at the Coliseum; as a result, the two teams will hope to play a doubleheader tomorrow night. Ken Holtzman will oppose Bert Blyleven in the first game, followed by a matchup of right-handers Catfish Hunter and Ray Corbin in game two.


A’s Acorns: The A’s did make a player move yesterday, purchasing the contract of infielder-outfielder Bill McNulty from the Iowa Oaks.


DATE: 09/27

            The A’s took two major steps toward clinching the American League’s Western Division tonight, winning a pair of hard-fought, low-scoring games by the tiniest of margins—with both victories coming dramatically in extra innings. The two wins, combined with the Chicago White Sox’ loss to Cleveland, drops the A’s’ magic number for clinching the West to one.

            In the opening game, the A’s and Twins played scoreless ball over the first 10 innings, as the mound work of Ken Holtzman and Bert Blyleven lived up to the pre-game billing. Holtzman hurled the first eight innings before being lifted for a pinch-hitter, while Blyleven needed no help from the bullpen in reaching extra frames.

            Batting out of the leadoff spot for the first time since coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals, veteran Matty Alou led off the bottom of the 11th with a double. Uncharacteristically, Campy Campaneris failed to advance Alou with a sacrifice bunt, but Sal Bando—batting third for one of the few times all season—made up for Campy’s shortcoming with a game-winning RBI double. Bando’s clutch hit saddled Blyleven with a touch-luck loss, while sending reliever Bob Locker to his sixth win in seven decisions.

            The two teams matched the dramatics in the nightcap. The Twins took the lead on singles by Rich Reese, Danny Thompson, and Glenn Borgmann in the fifth, but the A’s tied the score two innings later, when Catfish Hunter started a rally with a single and then came home to score on Campaneris’ RBI single. The score remained 1-1 through regulation, as Hunter and Ray Corbin proved worthy successors to Blyleven and Holtzman’s performances in game one.

            In the bottom of the 10th, the new-look top of the Oakland order once again entered center stage. Alou again opened an inning with a leadoff hit, this time a single against Corbin. Unlike the first game, Campaneris successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Alou into scoring position and setting up the heart of the lineup. With Reggie Jackson looming in the on-deck circle, Corbin pitched aggressively to Bando. And as he did in game one, Bando came through beautifully, driving home Alou with the winning tally in a 2-1 decision.

            The A’s now need to win just one more game, or hope for a loss by the White Sox, in order to clinch their second straight Western Division title.


A’s Acorns: In addition to scoring the game-winning run in both ends of the doubleheader, Alou collected four hits in nine at-bats as the “new” leadoff man. Bando also responded well to the lineup change, picking up three hits in 10 at-bats as the No. 3 hitter… Dick Williams used two pinch-runners (Allan Lewis and Blue Moon Odom) and four pinch-hitters in the first game. The replacement hitters included the newest member of the A’s, minor league call-up Bill McNulty.  McNulty, who can play first base, third base, or the outfield, becomes the 47th player to don the green and gold in 2002.


DATE: 09/28

The way the day started out, it didn’t appear as if the A’s would be doing much celebrating.  The A’s buried themselves in an early 7-0 hole, as starter Blue Moon Odom and reliever Bob Locker absorbed a pounding from the Twins’ offensive attack.  The A’s pecked away, scoring single runs in the fifth and sixth, three runs in the seventh, and two more in the eighth, to tie the game. 

In the bottom of the ninth, Twins relief ace Dave LaRoche hit Sal Bando with a pitch to lead off the inning.  Dal Maxvill, the fourth second baseman of the game for the A’s, came to bat in the cleanup spot of Dick Williams’ jumbled lineup.  Williams instructed Maxvill to bunt, but LaRoche threw three straight balls before finally finding the strike zone.  With the count now three-and-one, Williams flashed the hit sign to Maxvill, who surprised the Twins—and perhaps all of the fans in attendance—by ripping a double.  Rather than playing it conservatively with no one out, Bando turned the corner at third and chugged home, capping off a dramatic come-from-behind win, eliminating the Chicago White Sox from contention, and clinching Oakland’s second consecutive American League West title. 

Moments later, the A’s celebrated their Western Division championship with a variety of beverages.  Backup first baseman Don Mincher, who had missed out on the 1971 division title because of a mid-season trade to Washington, dumped water on the head and shoulders of manager Dick Williams. In another corner of the clubhouse, veteran reliever Joel Horlen poured a bottle of wine on star pitcher Catfish Hunter.


A’s Acorns: In a recent critical win over the Chicago White Sox, Maxvill made two exceptional defensive plays. Now, with the A’s having run out of legitimate pinch hitters in tonight’s game, Maxvill turned one of his rare Oakland at-bats into a pennant-winning double.   Much like Matty Alou, another one of Charlie Finley’s late-season pickups has played an important role in the A’s’ defense of the West against the White Sox… Rollie Fingers picked up the pennant-clinching victory in relief… In addition to locking up the AL West, the A’s also reached the 90-win plateau. They are 90-60 through their first 150 games. They will play five more games (all on the road) before the start of the playoffs, with three games in Kansas City and two in Anaheim… The A’s don’t yet know whom they will face in the playoffs, as the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers continue to do battle in the AL East. The Red Sox currently lead the Tigers by a game and a half.

DATE: 09/29

            Now that the A’s have clinched their second straight trip to the postseason, Dick Williams can afford to have some fun with his starting lineups. Writing out a lineup card that featured only one 1972 regular in his normal position—Campy Campaneris at shortstop—Williams sprinkled his batting order with mid-season call-ups and trade acquisitions. The end result was a meaningless 9-2 defeat at the hands of the Royals.

            Vida Blue took the loss for the A’s, but of the five runs he allowed, only one was earned. The team’s makeshift infield featured backup first baseman Don Mincher and minor league veteran Bill McNulty at third base, each of whom committed errors in back of Blue. After Blue’s departure, Bob Locker entered the game and put forth one of his worst performances of the season, allowing four runs in two innings.


A’s Acorns: After Campaneris, who took his usual leadoff spot in the batting order, all other spots in the batting lineup were occupied by backups or players playing out of position. Pinch-runner Allan Lewis earned his first start of the season in left field and responded with one hit and two RBIs in four at-bats. Rookie George Hendrick batted third and played center field. Dave Duncan, who lost the No. 1 catching job to Gene Tenace earlier in the season, batted cleanup and worked behind the plate. Recent minor league call-up McNulty started his first game for the A’s, playing third base and going 0-for-3. Tenace batted sixth and played right field, followed by Mincher at first base, and the oft-injured Dick Green at second base… Regulars Matty Alou (rf), Reggie Jackson (cf), Joe Rudi (lf), Sal Bando (3b), and Dal Maxvill (2b) all took the day off.

DATE: 09/30

            Ted Kubiak, Mike Hegan, and George Hendrick made like Campy Campaneris, Joe Rudi, and Reggie Jackson in tonight’s game against the Royals. The three backup players, occupying the top of Oakland’s order, combined for eight hits, six runs, and five RBIs in the A’s’ 10-5 shellacking of Kansas City.

            A more familiar face, catcher-turned-right-fielder Gene Tenace, helped the A’s open up an early 6-1 lead by belting a two-run homer—only his fifth of the season. The Royals then rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth and one more in the sixth to narrow the gap.

With the A’s up by just one run, Hendrick swatted a bases-loaded triple in the seventh inning to open up the game. Hendrick’s three-bagger scored Rollie Fingers, Kubiak, and Hegan and capped off a three-hit, four-RBI night for the rookie outfielder.


A’s Acorns: Kubiak, playing the entire game at second base, went 3-for-5 with three runs scored. Hegan banged out two hits in four at-bats and played his usual flawless game at first base… Spot starter Joel Horlen allowed five runs in five and a third innings, but still managed to win his third game. Horlen figures to be used exclusively in relief during the postseason… Bill McNulty, who started his second consecutive game at third base, is still searching for his first major league hit. He is 0-for-8 this season, which makes him 0-for-25 during his journeyman career. The right-handed hitting McNulty made his major league debut for the A’s in 1969, when he failed to register a hit in 17 at-bats.

DATE: 10/01

            Ken Holtzman won’t win 20 games this season, but he’s done far more than the A’s could have expected when they acquired him from the Chicago Cubs in a deal for Rick Monday last winter. The stylish left-hander improved his final season record to 19-11 with a well-crafted 4-2 win over the Royals. Holtzman allowed four hits and one run in seven innings before giving way to Bob Locker, who saved his 10th game of the year.

            Holtzman allowed an early run when Amos Otis drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the first inning, stole second base, and scored on a single by Lou Piniella. Royals starter Tom Murphy maintained the slim lead until the seventh, when his own fielding error allowed the A’s to draw even. After Joe Rudi banged out a double, Matty Alou laid down a bunt, which Murphy fielded but then threw wildly down the right field line. As the Royals chased the ball down, Rudi scored all the way from first base.

            In the top of the eighth inning, Gene Tenace led off with a single and moved into scoring position on Tim Cullen’s bunt. Gonzalo Marquez, pinch-hitting for Holtzman, continued his late-season surge with a solid single, scoring Tenace and putting Holtzman in position to earn the win. Tenace then effectively put the game out of reach in the ninth, when he plated Reggie Jackson and Mike Hegan with his third hit of the night.


A’s Acorns: After sitting most of his regulars the last two games, Dick Williams tonight assembled a lineup that he is likely to use during the postseason. Campy Campaneris led off and played shortstop, followed by Rudi in left field, Alou in right field, Jackson in center, Mike Epstein at first base, Sal Bando at third base, Tenace behind the plate, and Cullen at second base… Tenace finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored… Rudi and Cullen each collected two hits…Campaneris took the collar (0-for-5), but stole two bases.


DATE: 10/02

            The 1972 A’s made no news today. Charlie Finley didn’t make a single player move, while the team enjoyed an off day before beginning the final series of the regular season in Anaheim. Catfish Hunter will oppose California’s Clyde Wright in the first of the abbreviated two-game set.


DATE: 10/03

            Dick Williams attempted to get Ken Holtzman his 20th win by using him in long relief tonight, but the A’s ended up losing a 3-2 decision to the California Angels.

            Having allowed two runs during a five-inning tune-up for the postseason, Catfish Hunter departed the tie game for a pinch-hitter. Holtzman came on to pitch the next two innings, mowing down all six Angels he faced, but the A’s’ offense failed to give him a lead. Bob Locker then pitched a scoreless inning of relief, but Rollie Fingers faltered in the ninth. With one out, Fingers walked Leo “Chico” Cardenas and surrendered a single to Jack Hiatt, putting runners on first and third. John Stephenson stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter for starting pitcher Clyde Wright and delivered a clean single, scoring pinch-runner Billy Parker with the game-winning run.


A’s Acorns: Fingers fell to 11-and-9 with the loss… Campy Campaneris stole two more bases tonight, giving him four in the last two games… Angel Mangual and Gene Tenace each had a pair of hits… With the win, Clyde Wright finishes the season with a record of 18-and-11… The A’s will close out the regular season tomorrow night, when Blue Moon Odom tunes up for the playoffs with a start against 19-game winner Nolan Ryan.

DATE: 10/04

            The A’s wrapped up the regular season today with a game that meant nothing in the standings, but meant more than a little something to players seeking some individual milestones. In forging a 2-1 victory over the Angels, Campy Campaneris stole his 51st and 52nd bases of the season to win the league’s stolen base title for the sixth time in the last eight years. In the process, the A’s denied Angels ace Nolan Ryan his 20th win; Ryan allowed only one run in a complete game effort, but fell to 19-16 with the hard luck loss.

            With the game scoreless in the top of the fourth, Reggie Jackson drew a walk and then gave way to Campaneris in a rare pinch-running role. The Oakland speedster promptly stole second and third base, giving him 52 thefts on the season, and then came to score on Gonzalo Marquez’ RBI single.

            The A’s added to their lead in the seventh, when Bill McNulty drew a walk, capping off a day that saw him register his first major league hit. Allan Lewis came in to pinch-run for McNulty and moved up to second on a wild pickoff attempt by Ryan. After Lewis stole third, Don Mincher delivered “The Panamanian Express” with a pinch-hit single. The Angels finally dented the scoreboard with a run against reliever Joel Horlen in the bottom half of the inning, but could manage nothing further against Dave Hamilton and Rollie Fingers in the eighth and ninth innings. Fingers picked up his 21st save, successfully holding the lead for starter Blue Moon Odom, who earned his 15th victory of the season. Odom pitched five shutout innings in his tune-up for the postseason.


A’s Acorns: Starting the game at third base, McNulty collected his first hit in 10 at-bats this season—and his first hit in 27 career major league at-bats… Gonzalo Marquez earned his first major league start, playing the entire game at first base. He committed an error but went 1-for-4 with an RBI at the plate and surprised everyone by stealing a base… With the win, the A’s finish the regular season with a record of 93-and-62. As champions of the Western Division, they will face the Detroit Tigers, who squeezed by the Boston Red Sox for the Eastern Division title, in the American League Championship Series. The Tigers won the division by a mere one-half game; due to a quirk in the scheduling created by the early-season players’ strike, the Red Sox played one less game than the Tigers, with that one game proving to be the difference between first and second place.   

DATE: 10/05

The 1972 A’s won eight fewer games than their 1971 counterparts—in part because fewer games were played due to the player strike, but also because of a series of obstacles that confronted the A’s throughout the season. Without question, the ’72 A’s had to overcome much more adversity than a year ago: the holdout and subsequent mediocre pitching of 1971 staff ace Vida Blue; the season-long slump of Sal Bando; mid-season injuries to Reggie Jackson and Mike Epstein; and a constant upheaval of personnel that dramatically altered the composition of the starting outfield and the bench.

 So how did the A’s manage to outlast the surprising Chicago White Sox and capture the American League Western Division flag? Several players stepped up for the A’s in their pursuit of the pennant. Left fielder Joe Rudi enjoyed a breakthrough season, batting a team-high .305 with 19 home runs and 75 RBIs.  Epstein and Jackson, despite their physical woes, combined for 51 home runs.  Catcher Dave Duncan banged out a career-high 19 home runs before slumping in September.  On the pitching staff, Catfish Hunter led the way with 21 victories, matching his 1971 total. Ken Holtzman added 19 wins as the rotation’s top left-hander, helping to make up for Blue’s interrupted season. Blue Moon Odom earned votes for Comeback Player of the Year honors by winning 15 games, losing six, and spinning an ERA of 2.50.  In relief, Rollie Fingers, Bob Locker, Darold Knowles, and Joel Horlen comprised the best bullpen in the American League—bar none.

That bullpen, however, now comprises the latest obstacle to Oakland success. In fact, the biggest quandary facing the A’s as they prepare for the playoffs involves their relief corps, where Darold Knowles has been their best left-hander—and arguably their best reliever overall. Knowles is out for the entirety of the postseason, the result of breaking his pitching thumb after flying out to left field in a game last week.  Knowles hadn’t suffered the break during the actual swing; he tripped while running out the ball, falling awkwardly on his left thumb.  No matter the details of the mishap, the injury has ended Knowles’ season, forcing the A’s to find another southpaw reliever. 

When Charlie Finley learned that Knowles would not be able to participate in either the Championship Series or the World Series, he summoned Don Shaw, who had pitched miserably with the A’s during a brief early-season stint.  Finley reached Shaw at the Palace Car Club in St. Louis, where the veteran pitcher was working as a bartender.

The A’s must now decide whether to replace Knowles on the 25-man postseason roster with a journeyman pitcher like Shaw, who was ineffective in his A’s tenure and has nowhere near the credentials of an accomplished reliever like Knowles. Or do they carry another position player, perhaps someone like Gonzalo Marquez, who has been Oakland’s best pinch-hitter during the stretch run? If the A’s choose the latter strategy, they may decide to move Vida Blue from the starting rotation to the bullpen and make him the primary left-hander in the late innings. The downside to such a strategy? The A’s would be left with a three-man rotation of Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Ken Holtzman, and Blue Moon Odom, each of whom might have to pitch on short rest if the first-round series lasts beyond the minimum three games. Or they would have to press journeyman Joel Horlen into the No. 4 slot in the rotation, an iffy proposition given Horlen’s inconsistency as a starter this season. Whatever the case, manager Dick Williams and pitching coach Bill Posedel are facing some tough decisions regarding their pitching staff, with the start of the playoffs just two days away.


A’s Acorns: Catfish Hunter will start Game One of the playoffs against the Detroit Tigers. The Bengals will counter with their ace, left-hander Mickey Lolich… The first two games of the ALCS will take place at the Oakland Coliseum. Game Three is slated for Tiger Stadium, which would also hosts games four and five, if necessary. 


DATE: 10/06

            Dick Williams and Charlie Finley wrestled with some tough decisions with regard to their 25-man postseason roster, but ultimately have decided that an extra pinch-hitter will prove more valuable than having a ninth pitcher.

            The A’s’ brass has settled on carrying Gonzalo Marquez as the extra position player, instead of the original plan, which was to include left-handed reliever Don Shaw as the injury replacement for Darold Knowles. As part of the roster shift, Vida Blue will be moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen, where he will join Dave Hamilton as one of two left-handed relievers available to Williams.

As a result of the Marquez-over-Shaw decision, the A’s will carry only eight pitchers—and a remarkable total of four first basemen—on their roster for the American League Championship Series matchup against the Detroit Tigers. The A’s’ roster also features a whopping 10 infielders, including four players capable of playing second base, which has been the team’s most unstable position throughout the season.

The following is the breakdown, by position, of Oakland’s 25-man playoff roster, with the expected starting lineup featured in bold:


Catchers (2): Gene Tenace, Dave Duncan


Infielders (10): Mike Epstein (1b), Dick Green (2b), Campy Campaneris (ss), Sal Bando (3b), Mike Hegan (1b), Gonzalo Marquez (1b), Don Mincher (1b), Tim Cullen (2b-ss), Dal Maxvill (2b-ss), Ted Kubiak (2b-ss-3b)


Outfielders (5): Joe Rudi (lf), Reggie Jackson (cf), Matty Alou (rf), George Hendrick, Angel Mangual


Pitchers: (8) Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Ken Holtzman, Blue Moon Odom, Vida Blue, Dave Hamilton, Joel Horlen, Bob Locker, Rollie Fingers


In the Game One matchup, scheduled for tomorrow at the Oakland Coliseum, Dick Williams has tabbed staff ace Catfish Hunter as his starting pitcher. Hunter will face Tigers left-hander Mickey Lolich, a three-game winner in the 1968 World Series—the last time that he appeared in the postseason.


Memories of the Mustache Gang: Introduction and Purpose

Memories of the Mustache Gang: Today's Installment

Memories of the Mustache Gang: First Half of Season

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