Philadelphia’s best baseball team left 60 years ago

Philadelphia A's all-time great Al Simmons, works with Philadelphia Athletics rookies back in 1942. Credit: Getty Images
Philadelphia A’s all-time great Al Simmons, works with Philadelphia Athletics rookies back in 1942. Credit: Getty Images

When two baseball teams were too much for one city, typically the lesser franchise departed with its tail between its legs. That was so for the Boston Braves and the St. Louis Browns. But that wasn’t the case in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia A’s left the City of Brotherly Love sixty years ago.

After the A’s won five championships, which is still more than any other Philly franchise, Connie Mack’s team left for Kansas City and eventually Oakland. Since relocating to California, the A’s have won four more World Series titles. If you were to add up the championships won by the Phillies (2), Eagles (2), Sixers (3) and Flyers (2), that would equal the amount of titles won by the A’s.

The ‘29 A’s featured such Hall-of-Famers as Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove and Mickey Cochrane, and is arguably the greatest team of all-time, with apologies to the ‘27 Yankees.

However, owner-manager Mack habitually sold off his best players and by the ‘50s, the once beloved A’s were in dire shape.

“But those A’s were my favorite team,” South Philadelphia’s Lou Salvatore said. “They were my dad’s team. He saw all the greats, Cochrane and Foxx and Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, when they came to town. There was something about those A’s.”

Some folks still pine for the Athletics. ‘Bring Your A’s Game’ is J.T. Ramsay’s Facebook page, which is all about luring the A’s, who are in need of a home, back to Philadelphia.

Ed Deal, who is a security guard in the Phillies press box and who leads tours of Citizens Bank Park, tried to put a deal together to bring the American League franchise back to where it started in 1901.

“I was getting a group together during the ‘70s when the A’s owner, Charlie O. Finley, was selling the team,” Deal said. “I called the A’s and left a message. Not long after I received a call from Mr. Finley. He asked if I was interested in the A’s and I said that I was. He said, ‘do you intend to bring them back to Philadelphia?’ I told him that I did intend to do so and he said that would never work and that was the end of the conversation.”

The A’s, who play in arguably the worst ballpark ( Coliseum) in the MLB, are stuck for the moment. Their haughty brother to the west, the San Francisco Giants, blocked a move to San Jose. The A’s are still looking for a decent home.

Could the A’s come back to Philadelphia?

“I don’t see that ever happening,” MLB analyst Mitch Williams said. “There isn’t room for another team. Phillies fans are diehards. They won’t support another team.”

But baseball fans can look back at the A’s, albeit independently. The Philadelphia A’s Historical Society, which was located in Hatboro, closed its doors 13-months ago.

“There was no team in Philadelphia like the A’s,” Salvatore said. “They had such a pedigree.”


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