OAKLAND, Calif. – Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa; Cy Young and MVP award winner Vida Blue; six-time All-Star Bert “Campy” Campaneris; Athletics all-time home run leader Mark McGwire; and former A’s owner Walter A. Haas, Jr. will be enshrined in franchise history forever as members of the 2019 class of the Athletics Hall of Fame, the Club announced today. The class will be honored during a pregame ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 21 when the A’s host the Texas Rangers.
Tony La Russa managed the A’s for 10 seasons from 1986 to 1995 and, under his guidance, won four American League West titles, three consecutive AL Pennants from 1988 to 1990, and the World Championship in 1989. La Russa won 798 games during his tenure with the A’s, which are the most in Oakland history and second only in Athletics history to Connie Mack’s 3,582. When he was hired to manage the A’s on July 7, 1986, his first action was to name Dave Stewart as his starting pitcher that day at Boston. The A’s acquired Dennis Eckersley the following season and, under La Russa’s watch, the modern-day closer was born. The A’s won an Oakland-record 104 games in 1988 and La Russa was named AL Manager of the Year, an honor he would garner again in 1992. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
No pitcher in Oakland history has struck out more batters (1,315) or started more games (262) than Vida Blue. Drafted by the Kansas City A’s in 1967, Blue made his Major League debut in 1969 just eight days before his 20th birthday. He tossed a no-hitter in 1970 and then burst onto the national scene in 1971 when he won both the American League Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award as a 21-year-old. Blue set Oakland records with 301 strikeouts and a league-leading 1.82 ERA while compiling a 24-8 record. He was the starting pitcher for the AL in the All-Star Game that year and again in 1975. Vida won 20 games in 1973 and 22 in 1975 and pitched nine seasons with the A’s from 1969-77. He also holds Oakland career records for complete games (105), shutouts (28) and innings pitched (1945.2).
The Athletics all-time leader in games played (1,795) and hits (1,882), Bert “Campy” Campaneris played 13 seasons for the A’s, including four in Kansas City (1964 to 1967) and nine in Oakland (1968 to 1976). When you trace the roots of the A’s three straight World Championships from 1972 to 1974, it all began on April 25, 1961, when the Kansas City A’s signed a 19-year-old Cuban named Dagoberto Campaneris. Campy made his Major League debut on July 23, 1964 and homered twice in his first game. He famously played all nine positions in a nine-inning game on Sept. 8, 1965. Campaneris hit .353 in the 1974 World Series and was a six-time All-Star. He stole 649 bases in his career and led the American League in steals six times, including four straight years from 1965 to 1968.
The A’s all-time home run king with 363, Mark McGwire played 12 seasons with Oakland from 1986-97. He broke the Major League record for home runs by a rookie with a league leading 49 in 1987 and was named American League Rookie of the Year. McGwire was tabbed to his first of an Athletics-record nine All-Star Games that year, including six straight from 1987 to 1992. The A’s reached the Postseason four times with McGwire, highlighted by a World Championship in 1989. He earned the American League Gold Glove for first basemen in 1990 and set Oakland records with 52 home runs and a .730 slugging percentage in 1996. In addition to home runs, McGwire holds Oakland career records for RBI (941), extra base hits (563), and slugging percentage (.551).
The A’s may never have been Rooted in Oakland had Walter A. Haas, Jr. not purchased the team following the 1980 season. Haas owned the club for 15 years from 1981 to 1995 and during that time the A’s won five American League West titles, three AL Pennants, and the 1989 World Championship. The A’s set a franchise record for attendance in Haas’ first season by drawing 1.3 million fans, a record that would be broken four more times, topping out at 2.9 million in 1990. But Haas will be remembered just as much for what went on off the field, beginning with a commitment to the community. Haas stayed in the background while bright young innovators such as Walter J. Haas, Roy Eisenhardt, Sandy Alderson, and Andy Dolich grew the A’s reputation to one of the best in baseball.
The group joins Baseball Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Rickey Henderson, Catfish Hunter, and Reggie Jackson; 1989 World Series MVP Dave Stewart; and former A’s owner Charlie Finley in the Athletics Hall of Fame. The A’s annually induct a class that is voted on by a committee.