The A's sent two invitations to Art Howe's home, one through the mail and the other via personal phone call. They were reaching out to their former manager. They were going to have a party, and he deserved to be there.
They were planning a celebration for the 10th anniversary of their historic 20-game win streak, accomplished by the 2002 team for which Howe was the manager.
Howe, though, wasn't sure he wanted to attend the festivities.
Oh, he'll be at the Oakland Coliseum on Friday when several members of the '02 A's -- also the subject of the book and movie "Moneyball" -- gather as a group.
Howe, along with former A's players and coaches -- including Ken Macha, the bench coach who succeeded Howe as manager -- will sign autographs at the Westside Club, with proceeds going to the Cory Lidle Foundation, dedicated to the memory of the former A's pitcher who died in 2006 when a plane he was piloting crashed in New York.
"The Cory Lidle thing, realizing we're going to raise funds for his foundation, is what made me decide to do it," Howe said Thursday.
"And I was a big part of that team, so I want to enjoy it with them."
Understand, though, Art accepted the invitation only after considerable internal persuasion.
For one, his role as manager has been diminished, actually mocked, by the 2003 book and the highly dramatized movie released last September.
"It's certainly, not something I was thrilled
And, two, Howe has no relationship with A's general manager Billy Beane.
The two factors are distinctly related insofar as Billy was the brilliant and dynamic multi-dimensional star of the book and the movie while Art was depicted, particularly in the movie, as the dim-witted grump standing in the way.
The movie was a star vehicle for Brad Pitt, who shined in the role of Beane. Howe was portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who excelled in the role of the portly sourpuss, a waddling speed bump in the path of the G.M.'s full-throttle acceleration to greatness.
Though there surely was disagreement and friction between the real Billy and the real Art, the movie pitted the G.M. and manager as hero and villain, as winner and loser. Even those of us who witnessed the tension between Beane and Howe were surprised to see it ratcheted up on screen. We were downright shocked at Hoffman's physical portrayal of Howe.
As someone who played 11 seasons in the big leagues, was unfailingly fit and generally amiable, Howe had an initial reaction of utter fury to the character on screen. He had been turned into a buffoon of cartoonish proportions, a slovenly irritant.
When I asked if he has moved on from this slight, Howe paused.
"I just try not to even think about it," he said.
Howe, 65, is a decent man who had spent more than 20 years as a major league player and coach before going to work for Beane. Yes, there was conflict between that which Art knew and that which Billy wanted to implement. Yes, Howe chafed under some of Beane's demands, as well as the methods by which those demands were conveyed.
But their five-year G.M./manager association resulted in four winning seasons, three postseason appearances and two seasons in which the A's surpassed 100 wins -- including the '02 team, which won 103.
"We had quite a group of guys: a Cy Young (Award winner Barry Zito), an MVP (Miguel Tejada), a Fireman of the Year (Billy Koch) and one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball," Howe recalled.
I suspect Howe is as disturbed by the lack of attribution toward these players -- as well as the likes of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Eric Chavez and Jermaine Dye and others -- as he is for the way he was portrayed.
And that's why Howe pondered whether he should make the trip from his home in the Houston area, where these days he occasionally works broadcasts of Astros games. That would explain the hesitation upon getting the call from Heather Rejeski, Oakland's senior manager of promotions and events.
Though Howe barely follows the current A's, his loyalties and the charitable cause were strong enough to lure him and his wife, Betty, into town.
"The players and my staff, this is something we earned together," he said. "We should enjoy it together. That's why I'm coming."
It's a class move. It's the right move. It's probably not the move Howe, as portrayed by Hoffman, would have made.