Kansas City Athletics
From BR Bullpen
The Philadelphia Athletics moved to Kansas City, MO for the 1955 season and became the Kansas City Athletics. In thirteen years in Kansas City, they never finished higher than sixth and never had a winning record. Charles Finley bought the club in 1960, soon after the death of Arnold Johnson, who had bought the team from the Connie Mack family.
For their first six years, Johnson operated the Athletics as a quasi-farm team of the New York Yankees, with whom he had had extensive business interests before buying the team. He would develop good young players and trade them to the Yankees for over-the-hill veterans and cash that helped him pay for operating expenses. There were even sweetheart deals such as the one by which the A's signed promising youngster Clete Boyer as a bonus baby, kept him as an unproductive member of the major league team for the period mandated by the bonus rule, then traded him to the Yankees as soon as he was eligible to be sent down to the minors. The Yankees prospered greatly from this arrangement, dominating Major League Baseball in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but the A's not so much. The Athletics were very successful at the gate in their inaugural season, drawing over 1.3 million fans, but attendance fell notably afterwards as the on-field product failed to improve.
Finley's ownership tenure was very different. He was a man of ideas, but would not stick to them. He changed managers, uniforms, ballpark dimensions, and traded players apparently on a whim. Plus, he was a bit of a carnival showman, lending the whole franchise a tawdry and embarrassing air, with various stunts vaguely inspired by Bill Veeck, but with a lack of class. He had a knack for making enemies, would not stick to a plan to let it work, and was forever threatening to move the team to greener pastures. However, he was one of the first owners to realize that the newly-introduced amateur draft could be a bonanza for a chronically bad team like his, and he used it to build a loaded farm system that would pay dividends a few years later.
In the meantime, despite the presence of promising youngsters Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Joe Rudi, and Rick Monday, the Athletics finished last in the American League in 1967. After that season, Finley moved the club to Oakland, CA where they became the Oakland Athletics and went on to win three World Series in the 1970s. To placate civic leaders in Kansas City, the American League immediately promised to issue them an expansion franchise, which became reality when the Kansas City Royals began play in 1969.
The Athletics called Municipal Stadium home for their entire stint in Kansas City.
 Further Reading
- Jeff Katz: The Kansas City A's: the Wrong Half of the Yankees. Maple Street Press, Hingham, MA, 2007.
- Bill James: "A History of Being a Kansas City Baseball Fan", in The 1986 Baseball Abstract, Ballantine Books, New York, NY, 1986, pp. 39-68.
- Ernest Mehl: The Kansas City Athletics, Henry Holt, New York, NY, 1956.
- John E. Peterson: The Kansas City Athletics: A Baseball History, 1954-1967, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2003.
- Peter Filichia: Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebrations of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (March 1993)