To fans, the brightest stars play on the field, hitting home runs and throwing strikes in front of thousands of adoring spectators. But to the players, the biggest stars are the figures in the background, who keep the operations running smoothly to little outside applause.
To the countless players and couches who passed through the Oakland A’s organization, Ray Fosse and Steve Vucinich were superstars.
After winning a couple of World Series with the 1970’s A’s, Ray Fosse’s powerful voice narrated the Oakland A’s saga from 1985-2021, through its highs as a late-80’s dynasty and through its intermittent lows. The late radio broadcaster, who died last October after a long, private battle with cancer, will have his place in over a century’s worth of A’s history etched forever when he’s officially inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Fosse touched many lives during his decades in the East Bay, and several players in the clubhouse spoke about how Fosse would help new A’s players acquaint themselves with the organization. When asked about his favorite Fosse story, former A’s player and current team manager Mark Kotsay recalled Fosse’s strength late in life.
“I remember watching Ray and not knowing he was sick for as long as he was sick, and thinking of the character and strength it took for him to do what he loved every day,” Kotsay said. “The strength he showed was unbelievable.”
Fosse, alongside former players Sal Bando, Joe Rudi and Eric Chavez, will join Vucinich and special adviser to player development Keith Lieppman in the exclusive six-man class. The ceremony will take place before the A’s match up with their cross-town and interleague rivals, the San Francisco Giants.
“We miss Mr. Fosse, but Steve will poke his head in here from time to time, which has been good,” outfielder Stephen Piscotty said.
For many of the A’s current players, recalling fond memories of longtime clubhouse manager Vucinich was easy. He was an institution in the clubhouse, having worked for the team in some capacity from the year the A’s came to Oakland in 1968 until the end of last season. He was even present throughout in Mesa during March and April, helping during the hectic lockout-shortened spring training.
“You could see the culture he’d been around with the A’s, and I’m sure he’d seen some wild things back in the day,” pitcher A.J Puk said. “I mean, 55 years — I can’t imagine all the different guys he’s been around and all the stories Steve has.”
“Back in 2018, Steve helped me get all set up and settled here when I came in from St. Louis,” Piscotty said. “It was good that he was here to help me transition with the team.”
Oakland Athletics |
Bay Bridge Series: Top moments in history of SF Giants-Oakland A’s regular season rivalry
Walters: California taxpayers will subsidize new A’s ballpark
Athletics break loose early, withstand onslaught of solo homers vs. Angels
Murphy’s 3 RBIs off Shohei Ohtani lead A’s past Angels, 3-1
Bay Area’s broadcasting greats salute Vin Scully, their idol
Bando and Rudi’s start with the organization predated the team’s move to Oakland, both having entered baseball as players with the Kansas City Athletics. Both rose to prominence as All-Stars with the dynasty of the early-1970s, and each won three World Series.
Bando played third base and hit 192 home runs as a MVP candidate during 11 years with the A’s. Rudi twice came in second for MVP and nabbed a trio of gold gloves in the 1970s as the team’s regular starter in left field.
The other inductee is Eric Chavez, who was so fearsome a defender at third that he won six consecutive gold gloves from 2001 to 2006. Chavez was no slouch with the bat either, smashing 230 home runs and batting .267 in 13 years with the A’s.
“Being around here and seeing all the photos on the alls and learning the history, it’s pretty incredible to see all of the guys who have been through here and have played for the A’s,” Puk said.
Kotsay said a starter for tomorrow’s game has not been determined yet. Frankie Montas, who would have made the start, was traded to New York.
First baseman Seth Brown has been on a tear since coming back from the paternity list. He has hit four home runs in six games with a .389 batting average.