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Athletics - History of the Philadelphia Athletics - Netflix
The Oakland Athletics, a current Major League Baseball franchise, originated in Philadelphia. This article details the history of the Philadelphia Athletics, from 1901 to 1954, when they moved to Kansas City.
Athletics - Final years in Philadelphia - Netflix
In the late 1940s, a power struggle developed between Roy and Earle on one side and Connie Jr. on the other. Connie Jr., like many A's fans, had become disenchanted with his brothers' bargain-basement approach to running the team. However, Roy and Earle were not willing to modernize and refused to listen to their younger brother, whom they considered a mere child with no relevant opinion (Connie Jr. was almost 20 years younger than Roy and Earle). Compounding their disagreements was the fact that they had different mothers. When it was apparent that Roy and Earle would not consider making what he considered to be critical reforms, Connie Jr. and his mother (who was angered at Connie Sr.'s refusal to give Connie Jr.'s sisters any role in the team) made an alliance with the Shibe heirs. Connie Jr. began taking steps to upgrade the team and the park. One of the few things on which the two sides agreed was that it was time for Connie Sr. to step down as manager. Matters came to a head in July 1950, when Connie Jr. and the Shibes decided to sell the team. However, Roy and Earle insisted that they have a 30-day option to buy out Connie Jr. and the Shibes before the team was put on the market. Connie Jr. didn't think Roy and Earle could get the $1.74 million required to buy him out, but Roy and Earle called their bluff by mortgaging the team to Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (now part of CIGNA) and pledging Shibe Park as collateral. The mortgage deal closed on August 26. The shares of Connie Jr. and the Shibes were retired, ending the Shibes' half-century involvement with the A's and making Connie Sr., Roy and Earle the team's only shareholders. Although his father remained nominal owner and team president, Roy, who had been vice president since 1936, now became operating head of the franchise, sharing day-to-day control with Earle. However, under the terms of the mortgage, the A's were now saddled with payments of $200,000 over the first five years, depriving them of badly needed capital that could have been used on improving the team and the park. Unfortunately for the A's, the team continued to slide on the field. Although the 1949 team set a major league record for double plays which still stands, this was more a reflection of the team's poor pitching staff allowing too many base runners. They would have only one winning record from 1951 to 1954—a fourth-place finish in 1952. The nadir came in 1954, when the A's finished with a ghastly 51-103 record, easily the worst record in baseball and 60 games out of first. Attendance plummeted and revenues continued to dwindle. At the same time, the Phillies, who had been the definition of baseball futility for over 30 years, began a surprisingly quick climb to respectability. The A's had always been the more popular team in Philadelphia for most of the first half of the century, even though for much of the last decade they had been as bad or worse than the Phillies. However, unlike the A's, the Phillies began spending lavishly on young prospects in the 1940s. The impact was immediate. In 1947, the A's finished fourth in the American League while the Phillies tied for the worst record in the National League. Only three years later, while the A's finished dead last in the majors, the Phillies went all the way to the 1950 World Series. It soon became obvious that the Phillies had passed the A's as Philadelphia's number-one team. In response, Roy and Earle began cutting costs even further. They turned over the rent from the Phillies to Connecticut General and took cash advances from their concessions contractor. The cost-cutting ramped up even further in the 1953–54 offseason, when they slashed over $100,000 off the player payroll, fired general manager Arthur Ehlers and replaced Dykes as manager with shortstop Eddie Joost. They also pared down the minor-league system to only six clubs. However, even with these measures, there wasn't nearly enough money coming in to service the mortgage debt, and Roy and Earle began feuding with each other. Despite the turmoil, some Athletics players shone on the field. In 1951, Gus Zernial led the American League with 33 home runs, 129 runs scored, 68 extra-base hits, and 17 outfield assists; in 1952 he swatted 29 homers and bagged 100 RBI; in 1953 he hit 42 homers and drove in 108 runs. In 1952, left-handed pitcher Bobby Shantz won 24 games and was named the league's Most Valuable Player, and Ferris Fain won AL batting championships in 1951 (with a .344 average) and 1952 (with a .320 average). His 1952 batting crown remains the last time an Athletic has led the league in hitting. Joost was a solid fielder who had a good eye at the plate for generating walks and had an above-average on-base percentage as a result. All four players represented the American League in the All-Star Game. Shantz might have won 30 games his best year 1952 but was hurt by a pitched ball on the wrist and was finished for the season. By the summer of 1954, it was obvious that the A's were on an irreversible slide into bankruptcy. Earle and Roy decided that there was no choice but to sell their father's beloved team, and it was with great sorrow that the old man gave his approval for the sale. Although several offers were put forward by Philadelphia interests, American League president Will Harridge was convinced that the team could never be viable in Philadelphia. The sparse crowds at Shibe had been a source of frustration for some time to the other AL owners, as they could not even begin to meet their expenses for trips to Philadelphia. As a result, Harridge had come to believe that the only way to resolve the “Philadelphia problem” was to move the Athletics elsewhere. For this reason, when Chicago businessman Arnold Johnson offered to buy the team, the other owners pressured Roy Mack to agree to the sale. Johnson had very close ties to the Yankees; he not only owned Yankee Stadium but also owned Blues Stadium in Kansas City, home to the Yankees' top farm team. Johnson intended to move the A's to a renovated Blues Stadium if he was cleared to buy them. The Yankees made no secret that they favored Johnson, and their backing gave him the upper hand with the other owners. After an October 12 owners meeting at which several offers from Philadelphia interests were rejected as inadequate (Harridge later said that while several of them “talked about millions”, they didn't have any money behind them), Mack agreed in principle to sell the A's to Johnson no later than October 18. However, on October 17, Roy Mack suddenly announced that the A's had been sold to a Philadelphia-based group headed by auto dealer John Crisconi. The deal was to be approved at an American League owners' meeting on October 28. It looked headed for approval when rumors (reportedly planted by the Yankees) cropped up that the Crisconi group was underfinanced, and Johnson collared Roy Mack at Roy's home to persuade him that his original deal was better in the long run. On October 28, the sale to the Crisconi group came up one vote short of the five needed for approval, with Roy Mack voting against the deal he'd just negotiated. A day later, Connie Mack released an open letter to A's fans (one that was likely written by his wife) blasting the owners for sinking the deal to the Crisconi group. However, he conceded that he didn't have enough money to run the A's in 1955, and the Johnson deal was the only one that had any prospect of winning approval. A few days later, the Macks sold the A's to Johnson for $3.5 million--$1.5 million for their shares plus $2 million in debt. Selling Shibe Park—which had been renamed Connie Mack Stadium a year earlier—proved more difficult, but the Phillies reluctantly bought it. The American League owners met again on November 8, and duly approved Johnson's bid to buy the A's. Johnson's first act was to request permission to move to Kansas City. This proved more difficult, since it required a three-fourths majority. However, Detroit owner Spike Briggs was persuaded to change his vote, ending the A's 54-year stay in Philadelphia.
Athletics - References - Netflix