OAKLAND -- On the night they won the World Series in 1989, the A's kept their celebration in check. Out of respect for the death toll from the Loma Prieta earthquake, the champagne didn't come out until the TV cameras were off, and even then no one went bonkers.

"Obviously, it was a quiet celebration," Dennis Eckersley recalled. "but it's more memorable because of that."

Twenty-five years later, the '89 champs got another chance to revel in their triumph. This time, there was little holding back.

In a pregame ceremony at O.Co Coliseum, Eck, Dave Henderson, Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson and others basked in the cheers of 36,067 fans during a red-carpet walk from straightaway center field to the pitcher's mound.

In a way, it was the parade they never had.

"All the fans in the stands who think they can manage? They could have managed that team," Tony La Russa, who managed that team, said Saturday, shortly after coming off the field. "What didn't it have? It's as close to perfect as you can find. And I'll put it up against any team ever."

Dave Stewart, the World Series MVP, threw out the first pitch, capping a ceremony that had its sweet moments and its funny ones. Players from the current A's team came out to flank the red carpet, and for laughs, they dropped down low to high-five second baseman Mike Gallego, listed at 5-foot-8. Later, they stood tall to smack elbows with Canseco as the one-time Bash Brother made his way through the gantlet.


Advertisement

Canseco, whose knack for controversy goes back to his playing days, worried about how the Oakland crowd would receive him. But fans roared in delight when he stepped onto the field, and the outfielder tapped his heart a few times in appreciation.

"I didn't know what to expect," Canseco said during a third-inning interview with Comcast SportsNet. "I've been an emotional wreck for a week. The last couple days, I couldn't eat.

"I want to thank the fans, the players and Tony La Russa for accepting me back with open arms. It feels like I'm back with my family again."

Several players who couldn't attend in person sent taped greetings to play on the scoreboard, including Mark McGwire (Dodgers hitting coach), Terry Steinbach (Twins bench coach) and Walt Weiss (Rockies manager).

The last act by the former players in attendance was for each to drop a yellow rose at the pitcher's mound, where a large No. 35 had been etched into the dirt. That was Bob Welch's number. The popular starting pitcher died June 9 at age 57.

Stewart and Curt Young, two of Welch's closest friends, also presented jerseys bearing Welch's name and number to two of his children, son Riley and daughter Kelly.

"Bobby, he was a huge part of this," Eckersley said. "There was something about him that just carried us -- a special spirit."

Some players walked faster than others. Dave Parker, 63, who has Parkinson's disease, took the field from the dugout rather than make the trek from center field. Parker hit .264 with 22 home runs and 97 RBIs for the '89 A's, but his contributions off the field were harder to measure.

"Dave came in full of personality," La Russa recalled. "He had great credibility. Great presence. He was a tremendous addition to our team. I'm very fond of him."

In sweeping the '89 series, the A's outscored the Giants 32-14. Oakland hit .301 with a .964 OPS over the four games, while San Francisco hit .209 with a .595 OPS.

The earthquake that hit Oct. 17, minutes before the scheduled Game 3 at Candlestick Park, disrupted the series for 10 days. But Stewart said nothing could have changed the outcome.

"We would have beaten the Giants regardless," he said. "If (the earthquake) wouldn't have happened, I still think we would have won in four games.

"We believed in putting our feet on the opponent's neck, and we were very creative in how we could beat you. We could beat you with pitching. We could beat a team by hitting the ball out of the park. And we were a defensive ballclub. I mean, we did a lot of things well."