The Kansas City Athletics

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The American baseball team Kansas City Athletics played in the MLB’s American League from 1955-1967. They were based at the Municipal Stadium in Kansas. The team was a perpetual poor performer throughout its 13 year existence, failing to rise above sixth in the league even once.

How Did the Kansas City Athletics Start up?

The team was formed when Chicago businessman Arnold Johnson bought the Philadelphia Athletics and relocated them to Kansas City. Although the move was riddled with some controversy due to Johnson’s ties with the New York Yankees, it was immensely popular with Kansas City residents, who had never had a major league franchise before. Johnson also bought the Blues Stadium which was home to the Yankees’ feeder team, the Kansas City Blues of the American Association. He sold the stadium to the city and then leased it back with a three-year escape clause that guaranteed him a million fans per season. The stadium was renamed the Kansas City municipal Stadium. During their first season the team recorded a fan turnout of 1,393,054, then a franchise record and the third highest ever in the majors.

The Athletics in Competition

On their first home game, 32,844 fans turned out to watch the team beat the Detroit Tigers 8-2. Despite that impressive start, the team failed to win a lot and finished the 1955 season in sixth place with a 63-91 record. Following some unwise player trades at the beginning of 1956 season, they finished last in the league with an awful record of 52-102.

They finished seventh during the next three seasons before dropping to the bottom of the league in the 1960 season despite frantic efforts by new majority owner Charlie Finley to make the team competitive and increase fan interest. In 1961, the Athletics posted a miserable 61-100 record to finish in ninth place. Finley tried to move the team to Dallas citing waning fan attendance but the move was rejected by the league owners 9 to 1. In 1962, the team continued to struggle and again finished in ninth place posting 72-90. They recorded another losing season (73-89) in 1963 with the team featuring new, brighter colors which Finley hoped would make the team stand out on color TV.

They were back to the bottom of the league in 1964 with the team’s worst ever record of 57-105 and recorded yet another last place finish in 1965 posting 59-103. Despite a strong start to the 1966 season they slumped to seventh by the end of the season albeit with a best club record of 74-86. The contribution of pitchers Jim Hunter and John Odom were instrumental in achieving this modest feat as they held American League teams to a stretch of 45 1/3 innings without a score. In 1967, their final season in Kansas City, the A’s recorded 62-99 to finish last. The season ended with an awful run of 10 wins in 40 games and at this point Finley had had enough.

Kansa City Athletics’ Most Notable Moments

Following his purchase of the team in December 1960, controversial owner Charlie Finley purchased a bus, pointed it towards New York and set it alight in front of the cameras. This was symbolic of his intent to break the Athletics’ unenviable status as a farm club for the New York Yankees. He burned the existing lease agreement for the Municipal Stadium in another highly publicized move in order to end the escape clause and reiterate his commitment to keep the team in Kansas City.

On September 8, 1965, Bert Campaneris played at nine positions in a game against the California Angels. After playing in his natural shortstop position in the first inning, he assisted on a pickoff as a 2B in the second inning. He then moved to the hot corner in the third and then to left field in the fourth, catching a fly ball. He moved to centerfield in the fifth inning, rightfield in the sixth and first base in the seventh. The last two innings were the most challenging for him, playing in the mound in the 8th and then moved behind the plate in the ninth inning. The night was dubbed as “Campy Campaneris Night” due to his amazing feat.

Notable Players:

Norm Siebern (1960-1963)

Norm holds the club record for homeruns and RBI. He made the All Star roster during three of his four seasons with the A’s with 1962 being his finest year. He hit .308 with 25 homeruns, 117 RBI and drew 110 walks.

Ed Charles (1962-19767)

Ed, a third baseman, signed on from the Boston Braves as a rookie. He managed 17 homeruns in his first year, 74 RBI and 20 stolen bases and only failed to reach double digits in homeruns in two seasons with the A’s.

Jerry Lumpe (1959-1963)

Signed from the Yankees, this infielder has the All-Time record in hits and runs for Kansas City. He hit .272 in his first full season with the A’. His best return was in 1962 when he hit .301 and a career high 83 RBI.

What Happened to the Kansas City Athletics?

From the start, fans were suspicious of Johnson’s real motive for bringing the franchise to Kansas. There were speculations that he was just after profits and this was confirmed by his propensity to sell promising players to rivals. There were also rumors that he only intended to keep the A’s in Kansas for three years and then relocate to Los Angeles.

The team failed to accomplish anything notable on the field and fan attendance diminished year on year. Charlie Finley who acquired the club in 1960 tried severally to relocate the club only to be thwarted by the owners. Finally the move was approved in 1967 following a routine poor season. The team was moved to Oakland and became the Oakland Athletics which is still in existence to date.