Furious Oakland Athletics fans came en masse with a single message to owner John Fisher. “Sell the team!” they chanted thousands of times during the A’s 2-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Friends Brian Guido and Scott Finney of Sacramento left work early on Tuesday because they did not want to miss the festivities a couple of hours away in Oakland.
“I’ve been to only one game this year. I saw this game and I knew I had to come because I knew it was going to be very monumental and would send a message to the owner that this is what the fanbase wants,” Finney said. “They want the ownership to sell the team so they can remain in Oakland.”
Thousands of frustrated A’s fans arrived early for tailgating and solidarity at the Oakland Coliseum before the game to celebrate their team – and protest against a planned relocation to Las Vegas. They called it a reverse boycott aimed at bringing as many people as possible to the ballpark, complete with bright green “SELL” T-shirts.
A season-best crowd of 27,759 was the largest for an A’s game on a Tuesday since they drew 33,654 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in August 2018. Fans jumped up and danced in their seats when Trevor May finished for the save that continued Oakland’s seven-game winning streak.
But moments later, garbage was thrown on the field, and police and security took to the field.
A “We Are Here!” poster provided specific instructions for every inning such as chants of “Sell the team! Sell the team!” for the first Tampa Bay batter in the top of the inning and “Stay in Oakland!” followed by five claps for the first hitter in the bottom half. The drummers in right field made a rare return, too. The wave went on for nearly 10 minutes.
Siblings Leslie Pelon and Clark Keele played the cowbell and drum out in the constant action of right field. They used to come to $2 Tuesdays when they were children.
“If the Coliseum’s going to be rocking one more time I just had to be here,” Keele said.
They were there for Eric Chavez hitting for the cycle almost 23 years ago on 21 June 2000.
“I always say I was born to be an A’s fan, I was born during the ’89 World Series,” Pelon said.
The A’s announced a couple of hours before first pitch that they will donate all ticket revenue from the game to the Alameda County Community Food Bank and Oakland Public Education Fund – a total of $811,107.
Mother and son Leslie and Justin Lopez walked together in their SELL T-shirts reflecting on how much the A’s have meant in their lives – 27-year-old Justin has been coming to games since he was eight months old. He is saddened every year watching All-Stars depart to bigger markets in trades or free agency.
“It’s been so sad to witness. We feel like the historically disenfranchised,” Justin said, embracing his mother.
Another fan, Paco Mendez, is considering canceling his season tickets for 2024.
“We’re thinking of not re-signing next year because of this,” he said. “Hopefully [Fisher] sells locally. I wish I had the money for it. It doesn’t look good for us.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash appreciated the passion of Oakland’s fanbase.
“A’s fans are good fans. We played here, I think it was in 2019, in the wild card game and that was one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever witnessed in an opposing stadium,” he said, “so if it’s like that, it should be loud and it should be fun.”
There was also a sign-painting station in the parking lot, where 13-year-old Hunter Martini of Rohnert Park painted “STAY AND SELL.”
“I’ve been an A’s fan since I was three years old,” the teenager said.
For Mark Maier, it has been more than five decades. The 70-year-old San Rafael resident has been attending A’s games since the club moved west in 1968 from Kansas City. Maier held a green and gold painted sign in Spanish that read “VENDE,” with the V an upside down A’s logo.
“So sad,” his wife, Hallie, said.
“It is sad,” Maier replied.