MLB’s Athletics Franchise Has Been A Perennial Problem For Decades

Shane Langelier Doubles Oakland Wins 6th In A Row
(AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

The team could soon be in a fourth city.

Should Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics’ owner John Fisher be able to move his business to Las Vegas, Fisher will create some sports business history. Fisher’s team will have had four host cities, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Oakland and Las Vegas. Only one major league sports team has had more homes. The National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks franchise has had five home cities, Buffalo, Moline, Illinois, Milwaukee and St. Louis before the team settled in Atlanta in 1968. The MLB Philadelphia Athletics franchise was sold in 1954 to Arnold Johnson who took the business to Kansas City. There was some backroom maneuvering that took place, as Roy Mack sold the team to a Philadelphia group but American League owners led by the New York Yankees Dan Topping and Del Webb blocked the deal. There was some arm twisting but Johnson was able to get the team and move to a Kansas City stadium that he owned. Johnson also owned Yankee Stadium.

Johnson died in 1960 and the team was purchased by Charles Finley who wanted out of Kansas City as quickly as possible. He was planning to take the business to Dallas in 1962 but American League owners said no. In January 1964 Finley signed an agreement with Louisville, Kentucky officials to move the team there for the 1964 season. Finley had signed a two-year lease at a local stadium. When that proposed move was blocked by the American League he talked to people about either moving or selling the team to Denver and or San Diego interested parties. After the Milwaukee Braves franchise was transferred to Atlanta in 1965, he talked to people in Milwaukee about a move. He talked to people in Seattle. He finally settled on Oakland in 1967. But Finley soured on Oakland and sold the team to a Denver investor in 1978. But a proposed move was blocked. The A’s franchise became rooted in Oakland.

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In this artists rendering provided by the Oakland Athletics is a skyline view of the proposed ballpark at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square in Oakland, Calif. (Bjarke Ingels Group/Oakland Athletics via AP)