The Oaks return to Oakland for one day
Posted on July 9, 2012
Bartolo Colon #21 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the game at O.co Coliseum on Sunday, July 8, 2012 in Oakland, California. Both teams are wearing throwback uniforms on turn back the clock day honoring Pacific Coast League teams from the 1950’s. The Athletics are wearing a uniform worn by the Oakland Oaks and the Mariners are wearing a uniform worn by the Seattle Rainiers. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
I love turn back the clock days. I wrote about the one the San Francisco Giants hosted last month. Yesterday we had another great ballgame featuring throw back uniforms in the Bay Area. The Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s squared off on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in Oakland paying tribute to the old Pacific Coast League. The visiting Mariners donned the road grey and red uniforms of the 1955 Seattle Rainiers and the home standing A’s were dressed in the elegant red, white, and blue unis of the 1955 Oakland Oaks.
The A’s have done a terrific job in the past hosting turn back the clock games wearing old uniforms from their days in Philadelphia, Kansas City and Oakland. However, this wasn’t the first time they wore uniforms honoring the Oaks. On April 5, 1994 the A’s and Giants played a Bay Bridge Series pre-season exhibition game in Oakland with the A’s dressing up in home Oaks uniforms and the Giants wearing road grey San Francisco Seals unis. Luckily I was there shooting color slide film and put together some pictures in this blog to compare the fashion from these two great days 18 years apart.
I remember that April day like it was yesterday. Bob Welch pitched for the A’s and Salomon Torres threw for the Giants. The A’s had great players like Rickey Henderson and Mark McGwire in the lineup and the Giants had Barry Bonds and Matt Williams. The skies were overcast and the light was pretty, resulting in some nice looking Fujichrome slides.
Comparing the Oaks uniforms the A’s wore in 1994 with the ones they wore in 2012 is fun to do. I am not sure who made the 1994 jerseys, but I do know that Majestic made the ones worn yesterday. One obvious difference you can see in comparing the two different looks are the caps. In 1994 the Oaks hats that were work were not correct for the year of 1955. The popular hat sold by Ebbets Field Flannels seen above on McGwire’s head is from 1948. This year they got the hats right for 1955 with navy blue lids made by New Era.
Moving on to the head gear worn when the Oaks were batting, the 1994 team did not spend the money to use helmets that were the proper color. Instead they wore the A’s all green road helmets (seen above on Rickey). This was a real bummer and looked kinda lame. On the other hand this year they spent the the cash and fleeted up for some nice dark blue helmets with the red and white logo applied as a decal. Of course we all know that they did not wear batting helmets in 1955, but I don’t think that would fly in today’s game.
The obvious bummer about yesterday’s version of the 1955 Oaks unis was the shoes. The A’s went old school in 1994 and wore black spikes. They looked great! This year they wore their normal white gamers, with each player rockin’ his own style with green or gold trim. Simply awful. They were so close! The A’s did such a great job with their look, but are so damn hung up on the fact that their identity is the white shoes. They could have ditched them for this special occasion. Would have been much better.
The uniforms worn in 1994 were much baggier than the ones worn yesterday, but they both maintained that classic cream-colored look like they were back in 1955. The final piece of the ensemble that needs to be discussed are the socks. In 1994 they wore blue stirrups with red and white stripes. I thought they looked great, but they were not correct for 1955. This year they tried to be authentic and went with blue and white socks. They looked OK, but Bay Area baseball historian and legendary Topps photographer Doug McWilliams told me they still screwed them up. He told me they were supposed to be solid blue, which is what the Oaks wore in 1955.
They game was a blast to shoot, going 13 innings before Josh Reddick won the game with a walk-off double (see above). The light got pretty and the Oaks jerseys seemed to glow when they were backlit as I shot the last few innings from first base. Seeing a game featuring the Oakland Oaks was so cool for many reasons. The biggest memories I have about the Oaks are the stories my dad Al Mangin. Dad was born in 1933 and grew up in Oakland. When I was growing up he told me so many stories about going to Oaks Park in Emeryville (next to Oakland) with my grandparents to see the Oaks play. The Pacific Coast League was the Major Leagues for kids like my dad growing up on the west coast back then, and the Oaks were his team. He would have loved seeing the old uniforms yesterday, probably more than I did.