(Left to right) Wall Haas, Vida Blue, Tony LaRussa, Mark McGwire and Bert Campaneris stand on the field during the induction of the Oakland Athletics’ 2019 Hall of Fame class. Haas represented his father, Walter A. Haas, Jr. (pictured at far left). (Alex Hall / Special to S.F. Examiner)

Tony La Russa, Vida Blue among five inducted into A’s Hall of Fame

Oakland Athletics hold a pregame ceremony for the team’s 2019 Hall of Fame class

OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics launched the A’s Hall of Fame in 2018 to recognize the greats from their franchise history.

On Saturday, they inducted their second class into the Hall, in a pregame ceremony before the team’s game against the Texas Rangers.

The ceremony recognized five new inductees. Left-handed pitcher Vida Blue and shortstop Bert Campaneris were key members of the three-time championship team of the 1970s. Tony La Russa managed the three-time AL champion team from 1988-90, which won the World Series against the Giants in 1989, with a roster that included first baseman Mark McGwire, another inductee. Walter A. Haas, Jr. owned the team during that run of World Series appearances.

“This Hall of Fame induction completes the circle,” said La Russa, who won 798 games over 10 years as the A’s skipper. “I signed with the Kansas City A’s way back in the early ‘60s, I was here when the A’s came to Oakland, watched that wonderful group players become world champions. Had the opportunity to come back as the manager in the ‘80s, fell into a great situation, great veterans, great young guys. We had a nice run, and now to get this Hall of Fame jacket, that’s the closer.”

La Russa is the only member of the 2019 class who is also enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The inaugural class last year featured five baseball Hall of Famers, including outfielders Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson, and pitchers Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley. Pitcher Dave Stewart and former team owner Charlie Finley were also part of that 2018 class.

“I like the sound of that: Vida Blue, Hall of Famer!” said Blue, who finished his career with 209 wins and a 3.27 ERA, threw a no-hitter for Oakland in 1970, and won the MVP and Cy Young awards in 1971.

Blue’s former teammate, Campaneris, frequently led the league in stolen bases in his years with the A’s, and once famously played all nine positions in one game.

The late Haas was represented at the ceremony by his son, Wally Haas.

“I’m not the most objective person when talking about my dad, but I think it’s safe to say, he was most deserving of this honor,” said Wally. “In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Walter Haas, Jr. was the gold standard for what a community could hope for in an owner of a professional sports team.”

The new inductees received green jackets, which were handed to them by the members of the 2018 class. Each of them gave an acceptance speech near the pitcher’s mound, with McGwire using much of his to thank a long list of former teammates, coaches and front office personnel.

“They molded me into the player I became, and I can only thank them,” said McGwire of his coaches. “I’ve never forgot about that, and I never will. This jacket is part yours.”

McGwire holds the A’s franchise record with 363 home runs, out of his 583 career total. He also holds the Oakland career records with 563 extra-base hits and a .551 slugging percentage.

“You guys were the pro’s pros,” he said of his old teammates. “I’d go to war with you guys anytime, any place.”

Blue used some of his speaking time to call attention to the current A’s squad, which is closing in on a wild card postseason berth for the second straight year.

“Let me turn our attention to the men in the dugout,” Blue said. “Thanks to Bob Melvin, his coaching staff. Those guys in green and gold, they need our support. All A’s all day!”


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