In 1995, about 10 years before Lew Wolff and John Fisher bought the A's, the team's new owners were Steve Schott and Ken Hoffman. Schott was a one-man wrecking crew; a PR nightmare on legs. In Schott's first interview as A's owner, all Schott did was rip Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, and Terry Steinbach. Nice first impression. Within days, he chased away manager Tony La Russa, beloved A's announcer Lon Simmons, Rickey Henderson and Dennis Eckersley. Pinching pennies and saving money were always behind Schott's moves, most of which made fans scratch their heads or want to pull their hair out.
From the moment he took over, Schott was obsessed with moving the A's to the South Bay, and almost immediately, he directed his right hand man at the time, Ed Alvarez, to look into moving the team out of Oakland. Within a couple of years, Alvarez and Schott had a falling out and Alvarez filed a wrongful lawsuit against Schott, which they eventually settled quietly out of court.
But don't take my word for it. You can read all about these and other parts of Schott’s malevolent reign as team owner in our ownership timeline, which has Web links to almost every item. In short, the timeline is a 15-year look at the A’s ownership and their relentless efforts to turn their backs on their loyal fans and the city of Oakland.
Pick a month out of any year from the timeline and you’ll see Schott — and later Wolff — putting his foot in his mouth, whining about money, or saying something crass or brazenly anti-Oakland — all things that turned off the average fan.
Seriously, pick any random month: How about July 1997? That time features a Chronicle article where the A’s traded Mark McGwire just two months after McGwire criticized Schott for publicly saying the A’s might move out of Oakland after the ’98 season.
How about March of 2001? That's when Schott attended a Santa Clara city council meeting to announce that he needed time to convince Commissioner Selig to allow him to move there.
Or how about March 1998? That’s another Chronicle article, this time with quotes from a "South Bay developer" named Lew Wolff who says in print: "If I was going to pursue a ballpark, I would certainly do it in San Jose … and I would work through the mayor and the Redevelopment Agency."
Yep, that's what Wolff was saying in 1998 — 12 years ago. More than a decade later, it's exactly what Wolff is trying to do now.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's a whole lot more in that timeline. Just click here for more.
My point is that, contrary to what the anti-Oakland crowd likes to say, the truth is that since 1995, time and again, the city of Oakland has reached out to A's owners. And for the past 15 years, time and again Schott and Wolff failed to reciprocate because they’ve been hell-bent on their quixotic quest to move the team south.
But don't take anybody at their word, even us. Verify all of this by going to the timeline and checking out Schott's and Wolff's whole sorry history.
Be warned, however. If you’re an A's fan, you might want to pour yourself a stiff drink first. Leave it to Rickey Henderson to best summarize the whole situation. In the same 1998 article that contains the above Wolff quote, Rickey all but shakes his head at how Schott was running the A's at the time. Rickey said: "Oakland can support a big-league team … The Haas family put more into the community. That's why they had the support of the community."