Since the Philadelphia Athletics moved out of the city in 1954, the only way to see get a glimpse of that old club is when those who still remember the team gear up in historically accurate uniforms — the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia still plays games, using rules from 1864, in Fairmount Park.
But, this weekend, the real A’s are coming back to Philly.
It might just be for an interleague series of games with the American League’s Oakland Athletics against our Philadelphia Phillies, but the return of the team that began its days here in the City of Brotherly Love has restored interest among those who hope to see the team leave its West Coast digs and move back East.
It’s an idea that might not be as outlandish as it sounds.
The Oakland A’s have been living in the shadow of the San Francisco Giants — last year’s World Series Champions — for some time and have been trying to move to nearby San Jose for several years.
Yet, there are ownership concerns with a location in San Jose — the Giants coincidently own territorial rights there and the A’s would need to work out some kind of deal with the team across the bay if the organization hopes to move.
Some insiders think the Giants retain the rights simply because the owners want the A’s moved out of the Bay Area all together.
So does Kensington resident JT Ramsay.
For some time, he’s been adamantly banging the drum in hopes of getting the major league team to return to the East Coast.
He first rolled out his campaign last year.
Since then, he said, the idea has steamrolled and with the Oakland A’s still looking to move out of Oakland — not to mention talks of a realignment in baseball that would see Major League Baseball dissolve its six divisions in order to have a uniform 15 teams in the National and American Leagues — Ramsay said it might be the right time to stoke the flames of the fire.
“It’s been a little zeitgeist-y,” he said, noting what began as a simple idea has begun to feel like something of a cultural movement.
“What team goes where?” he asked, discussing the possible realignment. “Right now, that team just isn’t performing.”
And he’s right.
As of Monday, June 20, the Oakland A’s are at the bottom of the AL West Division with a record of 33 wins and 40 losses. Earlier this month, the team fired manager Bob Geren after a nine-game losing streak in which the team was swept by the Baltimore Orioles, who were then the team with the worst record in the AL.
Perhaps, Ramsay said, if the Athletics hope to succeed, the team needs to distance itself from the Giants — literally, by moving out of California.
“The Giants will not give up their lucrative hold on Silicon Valley,” he said.
This, he said, points to why he believes a move could be realistic.
In discussing his idea, Ramsay brought up the current financial hardships that have hit the New York Mets.
Thanks to money problems partly stemming from the Bernie Madoff scandal, the team is now millions in debt to a high stakes poker player, David Einhorn, who could actually own a majority stake in the team if his $200 million loan isn’t repaid in three years.
“The cracks are starting to show in MLB ownership,” said Ramsay. “We are really in a fluid moment for sports ownership.”
In the past year, Ramsay has seen his cause grow into something of a movement with more than 1,100 fans on the Facebook page.
As a friend of Ramsay put it, the cause isn’t a novelty or something garnered simply out of nostalgia; instead, he said, “it’s about righting past wrongs.”
That same friend helped re-imagine Shibe Park — the original home of the Philadelphia Athletics — on the former site of the Baker Bowl, where the Phillies had once played, at the intersection of Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue.
While these are simply drafted designs, Ramsay said it shows how passionate many are to seeing the American League team return.
Still, he acknowledges that there remain many hurdles before the Athletics could return to Philadelphia.
The A’s could see revived national interest later this year however, when Moneyball — a movie, starring Brad Pitt, about the statistical analysis changes the team made to improve its roster in 2002 — is released in September.
Also, Ramsay said the A’s have a solid fan base in Oakland.
But, according to Ramsay, that fan base has too long had to deal with rumors of a move without any answers — the team requested permission to move at least three years ago.
It’s time to make a decision, Ramsay said.
Besides, if Moneyball is what makes the A’s popular again, Ramsay said the team could do well to remember Connie Mack, the owner of the Philadelphia Athletics.
Ramsay claimed Mack started that trend — a way for a baseball team to be profitable and successful on a limited budget — in the first place.
“I think the situation in Oakland is going to linger on for as long as it’s allowed to,” he said. “Connie Mack was the original moneyballer …the race is on right now.”
Want to be part of Ramsay’s movement? Check out Bring Your A’s Game on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bringyourasgame
Ramsay’s group, Bring Your A’s Game, has been nominated in the sport category for the Philadelphia Geek Awards. The award winners will be announced in a ceremony on August 19. More information is available at phillygeekawards.com.