Northeast Times

The A's come back to Philly - for the weekend

Those who dream of bring­ing the Ath­let­ics back to Philly will get a brief glimpse of that vis­ion when the Phil­lies face the Oak­land A's at Cit­izens Bank Park this week­end.

JT Ram­say of “Bring Your A’s Game” with his son Charlie, 2, at their home, Thursday, June 16, in Kensin­gont.

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.

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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