Kansas City Athletics
1955: Kansas City was home to the most famous Negro League team, the Kansas City Monarchs. More recently, it was home of the New York Yankees top Minor League franchise all abuzz as the Philadelphia Athletics decided to make Kansas City their new home. When the A’s finally made their home debut, 32,844 excited fans turned out to watch them beat the Detroit Tigers 8-2. There was not much winning that first year, as the Athletics finished in sixth place with a 63-91 record.
1956: Despite playing in a new city, the Athletics continue to be one of the worst teams in all of baseball, as they finish in last place with an awful 52-102 record. Making matters worse ownership feels it is in the team’s best interest to trade off the players who were with them in Philadelphia, to get a new identity in Kansas City. The move backfires, as the New York Yankees are able to win a few pennants on Athletics cast-off, including 1952 MVP Bobby Shantz. While the Yankees benefit from A’s cast-offs, the Athletics get burdened by old aging players the Yankees no longer want and get the reputation as the un-official Yankees farm club.
1957: The Athletics continue to struggle as they finish in seventh place with another dreadful record of 59-94.
1958: In a mid-season trade with Cleveland Indians, the Athletics acquire a young outfielder named Roger Maris, who becomes an immediate fan favorite, and has potential that is labeled as can’t miss. Despite the trade, the Athletics can’t do better than finishing in seventh place with a 73-81 record.
1959: After another dreadful seventh-place 66-88 season, the Athletics anger their fans, increasing their reputation as the Yankees farm club by trading away slugger Roger Maris, and two others to the Bronx Bombers. In exchange the A’s receive Hank Bauer (who only plays two seasons before becoming the A’s manager), Don Larsen (who in a little over one season goes 2-10) Norm Siebern (who becomes an adequate outfielder for the next four years), and Marv Throneberry (who only plays 144 games in one and half seasons with the A’s).
1960: Insurance and real estate magnate Charlie Finley purchased controlling interest in the club. He took a substantial role in the club’s daily operations, often usurping his manager’s function. Finley tried numerous promotions. Some of Finley’s promotions included a zoo behind the outfield with a Mule Mascot named Charlie O. He would also have a giant electronic rabbit bring the baseballs to the umpire, and ground crews dressed up in space suits. Finley tried anything to help his team win, including moving the fences in and out, and firing managers and broadcasters yearly. None of Finley’s moves produce a winner and maintain fan interest would work as the A’s continue to be at the bottom of the American League with a 58-96 record.
1961: Former Athletics star Roger Maris sets a new single-season home run record with 61 winning the American League MVP for the second straight season and leading the New York Yankees to a World Championship. Meanwhile, the Athletics finished in ninth place with a worse record then the expansion Los Angeles Angels posting an awful 61-100 record.
1962: After eight awful seasons, and diminishing attendance in Kansas City, Charlie Finley attempts to move the Athletics to Dallas. The other owners were unwilling to let him make the move, and the Athletics are forced to stay in Kansas City, where their struggles continue during a 72-90 season in which they finished in ninth place.
1963: In an attempt to draw attention to his struggling team, he changes the team’s traditional colors of Blue, White, and Red for flashy Green, and Yellow. Finley figures since more games are on color Television fans deserve to see more colors than just Blue, Black, and Red. The A’s stick out, but continue to play like a sore thumb finish eighth with a 73-89 record.
1964: The Athletics return to the American League basement with a woeful Kansas City worst record of 57-105. The finish allows the Athletics to earn the right to the first draft pick in the following season’s draft that was to be held for the first time. With the first draft pick in baseball history, the A’s select OF Rick Monday.
1965: Another awful 59-103 last-place season is highlighted by Bert Campaneris, who plays all nine positions in a game on September 8th. The night was billed as “Campy Campaneris Night,” as 20,000 fans show up at Municipal Stadium to watch the A’s face the California Angels. Campaneris didn’t get a chance to field at his natural shortstop position in the first inning but did assist on a pickoff as a 2B in the second inning. After an uneventful stay at the hot corner in the third, he moved to left field for the fourth inning and caught a fly ball. Campy snared another in centerfield the following inning, then muffed a Jim Fregosi fly ball in rightfield in the sixth inning, but as a 1B managed to snag a pop-up in the seventh inning. Campaneris’ most challenging assignments came in the final two innings. When he took the mound in the eighth, he pitched as well as could be expected. After inducing a flyout from leadoff man Jose Cardenal, Campy allowed two walks, one hit, and one run. However, he got a break when Angels 2B Bobby Knoop struck out, and catcher Billy Bryan caught Fregosi trying to steal 3B to end the inning. Campaneris moved behind the plate in the ninth, and the Angels Ed Kirkpatrick took advantage by stealing second after a leadoff single. Three batters later, with Kirkpatrick on third and Tom Egan on first, California again tested Campy’s arm with a double steal. 2B Dick Green took the throw at second and quickly whipped it back to Campaneris in time to nail Kirkpatrick coming home. Kirkpatrick’s only shot at scoring was to crash into Campaneris and try to jar the ball loose. Even though Campaneris held on to preserve the 3-3 tie, the collision forced him to leave the field. After he headed off for X-rays, the two teams dueled long into the night. The game didn’t end until the 13th inning, when the Angels scored twice to win, 5-3. In another publicity stunt, Satchel Paige, who stared 25 years earlier with the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs, starts one game for the Athletics. Paige, whose real age is unknown, is believed around 60-years old. In his one appearance, old Satchel goes three innings allowing one hit and no runs.
1966: The Athletics begin to show some signs of life as they manage to play competitive ball for part of the season before finishing in seventh place with their best mark (74-86) while in Kansas City. Highlighting the resurgence were two young pitchers named Jim “Catfish” Hunter and John “Blue Moon” Odom, who held AL teams to a 45 1/3-inning stretch of scoreless baseball. The A’s also began putting together a good team on the farm, including drafting Reggie Jackson with the second-highest pick in the Major League draft.
1967: With the Athletics continually struggling at the gate in Kansas City, with many believing fans in Kansas City are staying away because of Finley himself, owners finally give in and allow Finley to seek a new location for the Athletics. In the A’s final year in Kansas City, they finish in last place once again with a 62-99 record. The lame-duck A’s only managed to win ten of their final 40 games. A bright future lay on the horizon in Oakland; at the end of the season, Reggie Jackson made his debut and would become one of baseball’s premier sluggers within a few years. The A’s also continued to develop strong pitching as Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers were only a few years away from joining the big club. As for Kansas City, they would only have to suffer a one-year absence from the Majors as the expansion Royals joined the American League in 1969.
©MMXII Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, statistics, logos, and team names are property of Major League Baseball. This site is not affiliated with the Kansas City Athletics or Major League Baseball. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on July 30, 2001. Last updated on April 30, 2012 at 11:30 pm ET.