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The 40th Anniversary “Gala”

I grew up within five minutes of the Oakland Coliseum. Joe Rudi’s catch in the 1972 World Series was my first baseball memory. I had season tickets during the Bash Brothers era. And I covered most of the 20-game winning streak. So I think it’s fair when I say the A’s have had a huge place in my life.

Given all that, I could not be more embarrassed at their inability to put on even a decent ceremony involving some of their former greats.

The A’s held their 40th Anniversary celebration before the home finale Sunday, and as such things go, it had all the pomp of a tether ball competition at the local elementary school. It was nice that the A’s brought in longtime announcer Monte Moore to emcee the ceremonies, but where, prey tell, was Lon Simmons? Oh yeah, he has Giants ties.

As far as the on-field ceremony itself? Well, start with the fact that only five honorees — Rickey Henderson, Dave Stewart, Bert Campaneris, Joe Rudi and Terry Steinbach — were even in attendance. Then continue with the fact that while some not in attendance — manager Tony La Russa, third baseman Carney Lansford and closer Dennis Eckersley — were allowed to relay their thoughts via videotape, the five who attended never spoke once.

Gimme a break!

I know the A’s have a smugness about them when it comes to their cross-bay rivals, and maybe they should. The A’s have been here 10 fewer years and have four more World Series titles. But they should be taking a page out of the Giants’ “How to …” book when it comes to honoring their past. I mean, they have a great history. And if you handle these reunions with the right aplomb and class _ you know, the way the Giants do it — then you can draw extra people to the park just to bask in teh glow of old times.

But the A’s treat their former stars as an afterthought, and believe me, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Watching the ceremonies today, I caught myself wondering why the A’s even bothered with it. That’s how uninspiring it really was.

Too bad.

rhurd