My latest additions to the jersey collection acquired from this past weekend’s A’s fan fest are definitely not exactly in the random, obscure player category but they have this in common and that is they both were among the key parts of an A’s division-winning season
When mulling over which jersey I was hoping to get from the 2008 fan fest, Esteban Loaiza was a name that popped into mind but for whatever reason I just didn’t see the jersey out there. Well fast forward six years last later as I was going through the section of home whites and lo and behold Loaiza’s #25 jersey which most likely was from his one and only start of 2007 for the A’s as he spent most of that season on the DL before finally healing to make that start and just days later getting claimed off waivers by the Dodgers.
Most of us A’s fans might remember 2006 even though Loaiza didn’t started out so great. But it was that summer that he became one of the keys to the A’s returning to the postseason after two strait second place finishes against Anaheim and as well advancing to the ALCS against Detroit.
After 2006 the A’s wouldn’t see the postseason again until six years later in 2012 which brings me to the man behind the other jersey I picked up, Travis Blackley. Blackley joined the A’s in early May of that season after being designated for assignment by the Giants. Starting out effectively in the A’s bullpen, Blackley earned himself a start on Memorial Day in Minnesota and remained in the starting rotation until minor league pitching sensation Dan Straily was called up to make his big league debut. Taking the temporary demotion with class, it was Blackley that took the win in a 15-inning marathon against Toronto in which Straily made his debut that August. During that season and with the growth of twitter among fans, many of us also remember Blackley for his many hashtags in his tweets. I personally remember his tweets in which he referred to his teammates as “The lads”.
However as it would turn out Blackley’s final big act for Oakland came in what many of us simply remember as “Game 161”. Having already secured that first playoff spot in six years, Blackley was given the start in that game in which the A’s would enter into a tie for the Western Division title. Blackley delivered giving up just one run in a 3-1 victory that would set up the ultimate shocker the next day in which they would wrap up that three-game sweep of the Rangers who had held on to the top of the division until that last day. Unfortunately Blackley didn’t make the team out of Spring Training and was delivered the news when the team made it to the Bay Area for their final pre-season games against the Giants before opening the 2013 season. As always classy, grateful for the chance he was given to shine in Oakland and like many others enamored by the fan support, he made his final mark by hanging out in the right field bleachers with the folks during that game against the Giants before preparing for his next move.
As far as his jersey I picked out at fan fest which was meant for him for last season, I figured it would be somewhat of a memento from that great season. After fan fest of course I wasted no time posting a pic of the jersey and in doing so mentioning that we would always remember Blackley in his time in Oakand. As of the time of this writing my tweet of the pic got 21 favorites and a retweet from the man himself. Grateful for that retweet, I responded to him by saying I would rock that jersey at the yard proudly.
Even though I didn’t get the jerseys I had hoped to get at that fan fest, it didn’t occur to me until a few days after that the jerseys I did come out with would actually have a connection to each other. Not only are they connected by the six years in between playoff appearances but for both of them those were their last big moments in their big league careers…that is until they make their attempts at comebacks. Either way nice to know I got some good pieces from those seasons.