Nevada City man heads to Oakland as part of opening day odyssey
It was April 17, 1968 when the Athletics played their first game in Oakland.
After 53 years in Philadelphia and another 12 in Kansas City, the Athletics made their way to the Bay Area and called Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum their new home.
The A’s didn’t get the win on that opening day 50 years ago, falling to the Baltimore Orioles, 4-1, as Dave McNally threw a complete game two-hitter for the O’s. Rick Monday was responsible for the A’s lone run, belting a solo home run in the sixth inning. The only other Athletic to get a hit was a utility player by the name of Tony La Russa. A rookie right fielder named Reggie Jackson also struck out three times.
Taking it all in from the right field bleachers was a 12-year-old Chris Towne, who was there with his parents, Walt and Kay, and two brothers.
“I guess (my parents) realized the historical significance of it, and I’ve been bragging about it ever since” said Towne, who still has the scorecard he filled out that afternoon 50 years ago.
Towne, now retired and living in Nevada City, said he is a San Francisco Giants fan first, but added that as a kid growing up in Hayward, having the A’s so close offered something new and intriguing.
“The A’s showed up and it was exciting,” he said. “All of a sudden the Yankees and the Red Sox, and all these other teams would be coming to play in the Bay Area.”
The A’s, now in their 50th season in Oakland, are set to open the 2018 season at 1:05 p.m. today when they host the Los Angeles Angels.
Towne and his two brothers, Steve and Scott, will once again be in attendance.
“On opening day, everybody is equal,” Towne said. “No one is better than anyone else. The possibility of your team getting to the World Series and winning is the same.”
The trip to Oakland is just one on an opening day odyssey for Towne, who has already attended baseball home openers for the Sacramento State Hornets and the Nevada Union Miners. After the A’s game, Towne plans to attend the Giants home opener Tuesday, the Reno Aces home opener Thursday, the Sacramento River Cats home opener April 10 and the Lincoln Potters home opening weekend in June.
“What I love about baseball is it takes its time,” said Towne. “You can go to a game, and you can really connect with the game. The game is not confined by time and borders. Every field has its own fence distance. Every game is a little different in the nuances of it. And, I love football, and I love college basketball the best, but they all seem to be confined by clocks and time. It’s a big rectangle, and baseball is this big diamond and there’s no clock. It could last 2 hours and 15 minutes or we could be playing into tomorrow.”
As for what he hopes to see on opening day and throughout the season:
“With the A’s they just need to play to their potential,” Towne said. “They’re a bunch of young players, but I think they have some good young players. If you look at the A’s in ‘68 they were a bunch of young players, but in ‘72, ‘73, and ‘74 they were winning the World Series, and it was the same players, they just gelled together. The key is to play to their potential, and I think they will surprise some people.”
As for the Giants:
“The keys for the Giants this year is to stay healthy,” he said. “I know they’re not off to a good start with two pitchers down, but the key is to stay healthy. We definitely improved our offense and brought in some amazing bats. But, I’m concerned about pitching and I’m concerned about the bullpen.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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