OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Furious Oakland Athletics fans came en masse with a single message to owner John Fisher: “SELL.”
“Sell the team!” they chanted thousands of times during the A’s 2-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays that gave Oakland a season-best seven-game winning streak.
Buddies Brian Guido and Scott Finney of Sacramento each took off early from work Tuesday because there was no way they were going to miss the festivities a couple of hours away in Oakland.
“I’ve been to only one game this year. I saw this game and I knew I had to come because I knew it was going to be very monumental and would send a message to the owner that this is what the fan base wants,” Finney said. “They want the ownership to sell the team so they can remain in Oakland.”
Thousands of frustrated, heartbroken A’s fans arrived early for tailgating and solidarity at the Oakland Coliseum ahead of a Rays-A’s matchup to both celebrate their team and protest a planned relocation to Las Vegas. They called it a reverse boycott aimed at bringing as many people as possible to the ballpark, complete with bright green “SELL” T-shirts made by local company Oaklandish going to the first 7,000 to claim the fan-planned giveaway.
A season-best crowd of 27,759 was the largest for an A’s game on a Tuesday since they drew 33,654 against the Dodgers on Aug. 7, 2018. They jumped up and danced in their seats when Trevor May finished for the save.
But moments later, garbage was thrown on the field from every which way and it didn’t immediately stop as fans stayed put and police and security took the field. The grounds crew kept watering and working.
A “We Are Here!” poster provided specific instructions for every inning such as chants of “Sell the team! Sell the team!” for the first Tampa Bay batter in the top of the inning and “Stay in Oakland!” followed by five claps for the first hitter in the bottom half.
The drummers in right field made a rare return, too. The Wave went on for nearly 10 minutes.
Siblings Leslie Pelon and Clark Keele played the cowbell and drum out in the constant action of right field.
They used to come to $2 Tuesdays as kids, what their family could afford as their dad studied at Cal Berkeley. Now in Porterville, they trekked four hours Tuesday.
“If the Coliseum’s going to be rocking one more time I just had to be here,” Keele said.
They were there for Eric Chavez hitting for the cycle almost 23 years ago on June 21, 2000.
“I always say I was born to be an A’s fan, I was born during the ’89 World Series,” Pelon said.
The A’s announced a couple of hours before first pitch that they will donate all ticket revenue from the game to charity, the Alameda County Community Food Bank and Oakland Public Education Fund — a total of $811,107.
Mother and son Leslie and Justin Lopez walked together in their SELL T-shirts reflecting on how much the A’s have meant in their lives — 27-year-old Justin has been coming to games since he was 8 months old. He is devastated every year watching All-Stars depart to bigger markets in free agency or all the other stars get traded away.
“It’s been so sad to witness. We feel like the historically disenfranchised,” Justin Lopez said, embracing his mom.
Toddler Pepito Mendez, 3, of Pittsburg entertained himself through the action tossing a beanbag (featuring an emoji of feces) into the boards covered in facial images of Fisher and team President Dave Kaval.
Father Paco is considering canceling his season tickets for 2024.
“We’re thinking of not re-signing next year because of this,” he said. “Hopefully he sells locally. I wish I had the money for it. It doesn’t look good for us.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash appreciated the passion of Oakland’s fan base.
“A’s fans are good fans. We played here, I think it was in ’19, in the wild card game and that was one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever witnessed in an opposing stadium,” he said, “so if it’s like that, it should be loud and it should be fun.”
There was even a sign-painting station in the southeast parking lot, where 13-year-old Hunter Martini of Rohnert Park painted “STAY AND SELL.”
“I’ve been an A’s fan since I was 3 years old,” the teen said.
For Mark Maier, it has been more than five decades.
The 70-year-old San Rafael resident has been attending A’s games since the club moved West in 1968. Maier held a green and gold painted sign in Spanish that read “VENDE,” with the V an upside down A’s logo.
“So sad,” his wife, Hallie, said.
“It is sad,” Maier replied.