Oakland Athletics Face of the Franchise: Who Rules Oaktown?

Nick HouserCorrespondent IIMarch 20, 2012

Oakland Athletics Face of the Franchise: Who Rules Oaktown?

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    Dozens of memorable figures have donned the green and gold, but one stands above the rest as the most recognizable member of the Oakland Athletics organization.

    A storied franchise, the A's have seen their share of personalities from players to managers and even front-office management.

    Over time, the people on this list have become synonymous with, "The Oakland A's." No matter what happens, they will forever be tied to the team.

    These men embody the organization like no other. They're as much of a trademark to the brand as the A's logo itself.

    So who stands apart from the rest as the ultimate representation of Oakland A's baseball?

Honorable Mentions

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    There are certain men along the timeline that aren't necessarily the "face" of the Oakland Athletics franchise, but deserve mention.

    Bill King—A renowned broadcaster, King called the play-by-play for 25 years. In that span, he saw the A's transition from "Billyball" to "Moneyball." King's voice conjures images of the A's still today.

    Charlie Finley—Former owner "Charlie-O" is the reason the Athletics franchise is in Oakland today. Not only did Finley relocate the team to Oakland, he changed the team colors to green and gold and shortened the name to the "A's."

    Walter Haas Jr.—Another former owner, Haas tweaked the uniforms, brought back the "Athletics" name and reinstalled the elephant as the mascot. Haas also put together the 1989 World Series-winning team. The franchise retired an "A" in honor of his efforts.

No. 8: Dave Stewart

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    Dave Stewart spent eight seasons in green and gold.

    Transitioning to the rotation, Stewart pitched to 20 victories four years in a row while with Oakland.

    He won one World Series ring with the A's in 1989.

No. 7: Reggie Jackson

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    Right fielder Reggie Jackson spent the majority of his 21-year career with the Oakland Athletics.

    In nine seasons with the A's (10 including the Kansas City version), Jackson earned six All-Star nods and the MVP award in 1974.

    Jackson was key to Oakland's 1970s dynasty, winners of three consecutive World Series championships.

    He falls to No. 7 because he is mostly remembered as "Mr. October," a nickname he earned while playing for the New York Yankees.

    Reggie Jackson's No. 9 jersey is retired in Oakland.

No. 6: Mark McGwire

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    Mark McGwire is probably more deserving of the St. Louis Cardinals' face, yet the majority of his playing career was with Oakland.

    In 11 seasons, he won a World Series title in 1989 and earned All-Star honors nine times. He is a former Rookie of the Year recipient and Home Run Derby winner as well.

    Together with Jose Canseco, the "Bash Brothers" were two of the most notable and feared players in the league.

    During his Rookie of the Year campaign in 1987, McGwire hit 49 home runs. He hit 52 in 1996, his last full season with the A's.

No. 5: Vida Blue

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    Vida Blue won 124 games as an Oakland Athletic. In nine seasons with the A's, Blue maintained a sub-3.00 ERA.

    At 21, Blue won 24 games with a 1.82 ERA and eight shutouts. The effort earned him the 1971 AL Cy Young award and MVP honors.

    He is a three-time World Series champion ('72, '73, '74) and six-time All-Star. With the A's, he gained more than 20 victories three times.

    Vida Blue is the only baseball player to ever be traded in a six-for-one deal.

No. 4: Catfish Hunter

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    In 10 years with the Oakland Athletics, Catfish Hunter racked up 161 victories.

    Between 1971-74, Hunter earned 20 or more wins in each season. He added a fifth consecutive season with 20-plus wins in 1975 as a New York Yankee.

    During his time in green and gold, Hunter appeared in six All-Star games, won three World Series titles and the 1974 Cy Young award.

    Most impressively, Hunter never missed a start during a 12-year span.

    Catfish Hunter is the all-time leader for the A's in games started, innings pitched, shutouts and strikeouts.

    The A's retired his number in 1990, three years after he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

No. 3: Rollie Fingers

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    Former Oakland Athletics closer Rollie Fingers kept getting better as his career progressed.

    Though he saw his most impressive years in San Diego, Fingers spent more seasons with Oakland (nine) than he did with the Padres and Milwaukee Brewers combined (eight).

    Fingers played in the same era as Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue and Reggie Jackson, the dynasty that won three consecutive World Series titles from 1972-74.

    While Blue and Hunter had colorful names to accompany their brilliant talents, Fingers has talent, a memorable name and most importantly, the most recognizable handlebar mustache in baseball.

    The Baseball Hall of Famer had his number retired by the A's in 1993.

No. 2: Dennis Eckersley

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    The Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox used the young version of Dennis Eckersley as a starter in the rotation.

    He failed.

    Arriving in Oakland at age 32, Eckersley mastered the art of closing games.

    In nine years with the Oakland Athletics, "Eck" saved 320 games, striking out 658 while walking only 92 batters.

    At 34, Eckersley assisted the A's on their way to capturing the 1989 World Series with a 1.56 ERA, 55 strikeouts and three walks.

    In his very next season he saved 48 games with a 0.61 ERA, 73 strikeouts and four walks.

    At 37 years old, Eck won the 1992 Cy Young Award and was named AL MVP the same year.

    He is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and his number is retired in Oakland.

    The long hair, clean mustache and funky delivery will always stick in the minds of many A's fans.

No. 1: Rickey Henderson

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    Was there ever any doubt that Rickey Henderson is the Oakland Athletics' all-time face of the franchise?

    Henderson's feat of 130 stolen bases in the 1982 season is likely to never be reproduced.

    He has stolen more than 100 bases three times in his career.

    With the A's, he won the 1990 MVP award and a World Series ring in 1989.

    Already a danger with his speed, he hit very well for average and could even surprise with power as shown by three seasons of 24 or more home runs.

    GM Billy Beane once said of Henderson:

    "He's the greatest leadoff hitter of all time, and I'm not sure there's a close second."

    For all of his achievements, Henderson's No. 24 jersey has been retired in Oakland. He is also a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Henderson was known as much for his dangerous speed as he was for his exuberant style and swagger. Henderson often refers to himself in the third person, something fans enjoy.

    Henderson continues to give back to the A's organization. He frequently mentors Oakland's young hitters in Oakland and in Sacramento.

    He's the all-time stolen base record holder and he's all yours Oakland.