Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Oakland A's Mt. Rushmore
The Athletics have won nine World Series titles, five in Philadelphia, four in Oakland. In between Philadelphia and Oakland, the organization spent 13 losing years in Kansas City before moving to the West Coast in 1968. For 50 seasons, Connie Mack led the team in his business suit from the dugout. There have been several short impressive stretches for the A’s, but overall, the franchise is below breakeven. From 1910-14 the A’s won four AL pennants and three World Series, then finished in last place the next seven seasons. From 1925-33, the A’s were first, second or third with three consecutive pennants and a couple more World Series. From 1971-75, the A’s won five straight AL West crowns and three World Series in a row. From 1988-92 they won four of five division titles and went to the playoffs from 2000-03. Of their 10 100-win seasons, half of them came in Philadelphia, half in Oakland. Whether it was in Philadelphia or Oakland, the organization seems to have a knack for developing Hall of Famers who spend only parts of their careers with the franchise. That’s certainly the case for the four gentlemen selected for the mountain.
Few, if any, fans living today remember watching Simmons for the Philadelphia A’s. From 1924-32 he was considered among the 10 best players in the American League. He still holds the franchise records for total bases, RBIs and batting average. He’s second in hits and fifth in runs.
Double X was a huge pain for opponents, winning back-to-back MVP awards in 1932-33 as a member of the Philadelphia A’s, and teamed with Al Simmons as a feared 1-2 punch in the lineup almost equal to Ruth-Gehrig. Simmons and Foxx hit 4-5 in the lineup for the 1929-30 World Champs. Foxx is second in average and RBIs, and third in total bases.
The most prolific base stealer of all-time scored more runs than any other player in baseball. All of his stats weren’t accumulated with the A’s, but across his four stints with the club, the six-time A’s All-Star amassed 1,768 hits, 1,270 runs and 867 stolen bases over 14 seasons. He won an MVP award in 1990 and finished second in 1981.
The Tall Tactician is most remembered for wearing a business suit in the dugout for 50 seasons. In many respects, Mack represents the face of the franchise — or at least he did for 50 years as owner/manager. During his 50 years at the helm, the A's finished with 25 winning seasons and 25 losing seasons. His teams played in eight World Series, winning five.
Lefty Grove, the ace of the dominant Philadelphia teams from 1929-31, spent just nine seasons with the A’s, but led the AL in wins four times, ERA five times, strikeouts seven times and even had what would have been nine saves had that been a statistic at the time to lead the league the same year he led in wins. He was 195-79 for Philadelphia, averaging 22 wins and six “saves” per season. He was named AL MVP in 1931.
Eddie Plank was the ace of the staff for its first 14 seasons. During that time he averaged 20 wins a season, totaling 284, most all-time for the franchise.
The franchise leader in games and hits, Bert Campaneris, must get some consideration. Besides, he once played all nine positions in one game.
Mr. October was a different player as No. 9 for the A’s before he became No. 44 in the Bronx. The athletic Reggie Jackson stole bases and was adept in right field with one of the strongest throwing arms in the game. His No. 9 is retired in Oakland.
A Hall of Famer and member of three World Series teams in Oakland, Catfish Hunter won 161 games and a Cy Young award in 10 seasons with the A’s.
One of the relief pitchers who defined the role of closer, Rollie Fingers appeared in more than 500 games and had 136 saves.
Dennis Eckersley redefined his career as a closer in Oakland under the tutelage of Dave Duncan. Eck notched 320 saves for the A’s, earning an MVP and Cy Young trophy along the way.
Sal Bando was the captain of five straight division winners in the 1970s, winning three World Series.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com
Other teams' Mt. Rushmores: