Players from the Las Vegas A’s may need a few seasons to feel like they are back in a big-league environment. The Major League Baseball owners gave permission to the A’s to move from Oakland to Las Vegas after the team’s lease runs out with the Oakland Coliseum in 2024. However, beyond next season, Las Vegas doesn’t expect to have a major league stadium ready for the A’s to play until 2028.
There are some plans to use minor league stadiums to get them through a few years. But there’s nothing concrete in place yet. The Arizona Diamondbacks have proven that baseball can successfully work in desert climates. Based in Phoenix, the Diamondbacks have always had a stadium with a roof to get them through the blistering summer months.
Las Vegas will have similar challenges. Up-to-date sports news shows that having chaos ruling things is nothing new to the A’s organization.
Where Did You Go?
When the A’s make their new home in Las Vegas, this will be the fourth city the A’s have called home. Originally, the team was founded in 1901 and was part of the American League. The A’s had plenty of early success in Philadelphia.
Between 1910 and 1930, the A’s won five World Series titles. However, as time went on, the relationship between the A’s and Philadelphia deteriorated. Competing with the Philadelphia Phillies for market share was part of the A’s problem.
The A’s also had several changes in management, which was compounded by mounting debt. When real estate magnate Arnold Johnson bought the team in 1954, he would request to move the team to Kansas City.
Kansas City Was Never a Stronghold for the A’s
While Johnson was initially welcomed as a hero for bringing a major professional sports team to Kansas City, people found out he wasn’t as altruistic as he made himself out to be. Johnson signed a lease with Kansas City Municipal Stadium that included an escape clause if the attendance fell below 1 million people per season. That number was later lowered to 850,000.
Johnson also dealt many of Kansas City’s top players to the New York Yankees. It was a trend that frustrated fans, who felt Johnson was treating the team like a minor league club. When The Yankees won the World Series in 1961, they had 10 players who started with the A’s. Johnson sold the team in 1960 to another Chicago man, Charlie Finley, who would also soon become hated.
After spending money to repair the Kansas City Municipal Stadium and burning a bus to symbolize the end of the relationship with the Yankees, Finley started shopping the team to other cities. He had promised not to do so. Finley also promised to get rid of the escape clause but also kept that in the contract.
Despite the citizens in Kansas City eventually approving a bond for a new stadium, Finley took the A’s to Oakland in 1967. Kansas City would eventually get an expansion team, the Royals, two years later.
Success Came Quickly in Oakland
Finley wouldn’t prove to be much more popular in California. However, the team’s success would prove to help make them popular. The A’s won three consecutive World Series from 1972 to 1974. That era didn’t come without its controversy.
Star outfielder and major MLB MVP front runners like Reggie Jackson feuded with everyone imaginable. A’s manager Dick Williams, embarrassed by Finley’s interference in baseball and embarrassing players, resigned after the second of those titles in 1973. Alvin Dark would guide Oakland to its third straight title in 1974.
The A’s would have another strong period in the 1980s with Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. Oakland played in three straight World Series from 1988 to 1990 and would sweep regional rival the San Francisco Giants to win their ninth and most recent World Series title in 1989.
Moneyball and Apathy
The A’s of the early 2000s would become well known for not spending money and trying to utilize analytics to build their franchise to keep costs low. This would work to keep Oakland competitive. However, the A’s inability to bring home a World Series hurt the brand considerably.
Oakland was mostly viewed as cheap while playing in an outdated football stadium that was built to house them and the NFL’s then-Oakland Raiders. But the Oakland area was hit hard by teams leaving the city. The Golden State Warriors were the first to do so, moving across the bay to San Francisco.
The Raiders would also head to Las Vegas thanks to the ability to build a large stadium there. The A’s originally flirted with San Jose before settling on Las Vegas.
Who Said We Weren’t Cool with Gambling?
American sports had avoided Las Vegas for a long time. All of the professional leagues were hesitant to be associated with gambling. But those walls have broken down over the past five years as sports betting has become legal nationwide.
Top sports news today shows that Las Vegas now has a team in the WNBA, NHL, and NFL and continues as one of the top homes of combat sports around the world. The city will also host Formula 1 races. MLB getting involved in Las Vegas is the most surprising.
The most public-known gambling scandal in American history is the 1919 Black Sox controversy. The players on the Chicago White Sox team threw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. While many players have pleaded innocence, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson is the most notable example. Many players were barred for life for being involved in gambling.
Former Cincinnati Reds great and all-time hit king Pete Rose was also barred for life for gambling on games he was managing in the 1980s. Times are different now, but seeing a baseball team in Las Vegas will take some getting used to.
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