OAKLAND -- The current Oakland Athletics took the field with the 1973 World Series Champion A's in a pregame ceremony on Saturday. As the 40-year reunion of the '73 champs took place, the A's skipper hoped it would rub off on the current team a bit.
"Ever since I've been here I like to include these guys whenever they are in spring training, whenever they are around here," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They are always welcome here. You can't help but just feel good being around world champions."
Melvin grew up watching the 70s A's. He wears Sal Bando's no. 6 in honor of the A's captain, who was part of three consecutive World Series championships in Oakland. During a special moment in the ceremony, Melvin took the field with his hero, Bando, and current third baseman Josh Donaldson.
The moment wasn't lost on the young A's third baseman. He went 4 for 4 and drove in two runs. He also made two fine plays on defense, including an over the shoulder grab as he slid up the bump of the bullpen mound in foul territory.
"He is an animal over there," starting pitcher A.J. Griffin said. "You always know (Donaldson) is going to go out there and play his butt off."
Captain Sal would have been proud.
"It was definitely an honor to walk on the field with Sal," Donaldson said. "I mean he was the captain here. Myself, I just try to go out there and play as hard as I can every day and today I was fortunate enough to have a decent day."
"When you are around winners sometimes it rubs off," Melvin said.
Donaldson's catch in foul territory in the fifth inning was one of the best catches he's made in his career. However, it might not be the toughest catch he's made all season. Just last week in Tampa Bay he had another adventure catching a ball in the bullpen area that might have been more impressive. He had to work his way through several scattering relievers to catch a pop up after a long run.
"The one in Tampa is tough, with all the guys and you have the dome, but definitely that was one of the better catches I've had," Donaldson said of his most recent effort.
All of the A's weren't able to seize momentum from the 70s reunion as they lost 7-3 to the Orioles. That doesn't mean the impression the legendary team left was lost on them.
"Obviously that's huge," said Griffin, after throwing seven innings and allowing four earned runs. "Being able to recognize a team like that, that's what we are striving to do every year when we come out here."
"Just to be around a team that brought that much happiness and enthusiasm to the Bay Area, that's great for baseball," he added.
Mr. October belongs in Oakland:
The vets had a good time themselves. The stadium was packed for the reunion and those that came early enough were given Reggie Jackson bobble heads. The man they call Mr. October was greeted with a large media contingent and a warm applause when he was introduced.
"I really felt like they were really cheering all of us as a team," Jackson said. "I was the last guy that came out and I felt like I was in the applause of everybody."
Jackson is a hall of famer like two of his 70s A's teammates, the late Catfish Hunter, and the still mustached Rollie Fingers. The three of them have their numbers retired here in Oakland. Jackson, however, has been an employee of the Yankees and it has been a while since he really had an opportunity to embrace his Oakland roots.
"It's nice, I get to put on my A's shirt and wear my A's hat," Jackson said. "I wear my A's hat when I play golf, I worked for the Yankees and love the Yankees and all of that stuff, but the A's are a part of me that goes back forever."
Jackson insisted that he brought his A's hat from home and it wasn't provided for him upon arrival.
Yearning for Yoenis:
Down four runs in the bottom of the ninth, the A's put together a late rally but they couldn't capitalize. With the bases loaded and no outs, Seth Smith popped out, and Jed Lowrie grounded into a game-ending double play. Lowrie was batting fourth, where Yoenis Cespedes will likely be in the lineup on Sunday when he is expected to return from the disabled list.
The A's are 4-10 since their nine-game winning streak. They are 8-2 with Cespedes in the lineup this season. They will have to hope they can turn the page when he returns.