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From The Press Box

Amaury Pi-González

Baseball is a generational sport. People grow-up watching their favorite players, they are engraved in their collective memories forever. It is passed from one generation to the next one. Many times during The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame exhibits at Fanfest, All-Star Games, community and other events I have seen fathers telling their kids (as they watch an exhibit) “Billy, this was Minnie Miñoso, my favorite player as a kid”. Players numbers are retired by teams to honor their past stars.Teams are proud to retire their legends numbers, not to mention it is also a smart marketing tool to sell more jerseys and merchandise for people to wear and use. It is a win-win situation for everybody.

On September 11 when the A’s host the Chicago White Sox, the Oakland A’s fans in attendance will receive a replica of #34 Dave Stewart’s number which will be officially retired by the team. Stewart is one of the A’s legends. As a great pitcher Dave Stewart was the heart and soul of the Oakland Community, specially during the 1989 World Series during the Loma Prieta earthquake. One of the last pitchers in baseball to have four consecutive 20 game winning seasons, his famous “Death Stare” in the mound when he was pitching is remembered forever in the memories of A’s fans, as well as those hitters who faced him.

Another great Oakland A’s player is Cuban-born shortstop Dagoberto Blanco (Campy) Campaneris. Campy is the only Latino shortstop in history to have been a shortstop for three-consecutive World Series champion. The 1972-73-74 Oakland A’s. Campy will be in attendance as the A’s celebrate their 1972 World Series Champion team reunion on Saturday June 4 at the Oakland Coliseum.

Campy (now living in Arizona) is a shy and humble man who as the A’s lead-off hitter was the spark plug for those great championship teams of the early 1970’s. Many times I have spoken with Campy he has always cherished those great memories. He is a baseball man to his core, his stories about the game are priceless. He still represents the Oakland A’s and is happy to sign autographs for fans when the A’s conduct their Spring Training camp in Arizona. A few years ago I was called by CH 2 FOX to translate for Campy for an exclusive interview done by Mark Ibañez their sports anchor during Spring Training. Campy is so humble he told me “¿por qué quieren hablar conmigo?” trans- ‘why do they want to talk to me?”.

Reggie Jackson became a star with the Oakland A’s, and a mega star once he won two World Series championships and earned the nickname “Mr. October,” with the New York Yankees. Reggie said that those Yankee teams were inferior to the Oakland A’s teams that won back-to-back-to back championships in the 1970s with Jackson as its megastar, according to the man himself. Reggie (whose number 9 is retired by the A’s) always talks fondly about Campy Campaneris, “The Road Runner”, the man that ignited that great lineup.

Around 30 to 33 percent of all players in today’s game are Hispanic. The Oakland A’s always enjoyed very loyal Hispanic fans in the Bay Area and across the country and those that remember Campy will tell you he was an integral part of the “Swinging A’s” during his playing days.

I hope the Oakland Athletics consider the retirement of Campy Campaneris number 19. To this day, the A’s have not retired a number from one of their Latino players and I cannot think of a better person than Dagoberto Blanco (Campy) Campaneris. In the past I have suggested to A’s upper management the importance of retiring Campy Campaneris number 19. I hope in the near future they will. It is time.

These are the numbers retired to date by the Oakland A’s:

34 Rickey Henderson, 43 Dennis Eckersley, 9 Reggie Jackson, 27 Jim “Catfish” Hunter, 34  Rollie Fingers and Walter A. Haas, Jr, Owner.

Dagoberto “Blanco” Campaneris is in The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame.

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