Last night, my favorite Oakland A’s player from my childhood announced his retirement. Mark Ellis joined the A’s in 2002 and was so consistently amazing with the team until his trade to Colorado in 2011. Even though he wasn’t a big name like Miguel Tejada or Erich Chavez, he stuck through some tough years for the team but remained professional.
Drafted by the Royals in 1999, Ellis came to Oakland with Cory Lidle in a three-team trade in 2001 for Angel Berroa, A.J. Hinch, and Ben Grieve.
“It was definitely time,” Ellis told The Chronicle on last night about his retirement. “My kids are getting older and I kind of realized it was time to do something else.”
What made him so endearing for me was that he always seemed to be clutch at the plate. But his offensive stats aren’t what made him a player with so much longevity, rather it was his defense. His .991 career fielding percentage is fifth best all time among second basemen. He even set a then record .997 fielding percentage in 2006. It still shocks me that he never won a Gold Glove in his career.
I grew up an Oakland A’s fan and I didn’t really invested into baseball until 1998. That was a great year for the game itself with the home run chase going on. But since I grew up in the East Bay and my heart still broken over Mark McGwire being traded, I tried to find a hero on the A’s that would comfort my sadness. That came in the form of this power hitter named Jason Giambi. He had been with the team for a few years at that point but it wasn’t until the 2000 season did I really become a huge fan.
He won the MVP that year and the A’s made the playoffs for the first time in a while. The team was ready to build upon his talents and he was going to be the core strength of this group of young talented players. The first bobblehead I ever got was a Giambi bobblehead. I recall going to a lot of games in the following season and if my non-Brian Williams memory serves me right, I was there for this game.
Yesterday was Memorial Day and part of MLB’s new promotion, every team wore their new Stars & Stripes caps. These caps took the team’s current caps and added a camouflage touch to it. I think they’re OK but since all proceeds of sales of these caps go to charities helping war veterans, I’m totally fine with it.
Basically for these caps, it’s not a major change to the design unlike caps of the previous years.
But one unique thing about these caps is that since the camouflage design is only logo-based, teams with multiple caps had all their caps re-designed. For example, teams like the Indians have four different caps, meaning all four got the camouflage treatment.
And for some teams, that gave them an opportunity to go a little throwback with their caps on Monday.