Giambi, Henderson opine on Oakland A’s likely relocation to Las Vegas

OAKLAND, Calif. — Jason Giambi was greeted with applause as Tony La Russa introduced him as the Oakland A’s newest Hall of Fame inductee. It was unexpected given Giambi’s departure from a 102-win Oakland team for the New York Yankees and a lucrative contract 22 years ago.

Giambi’s departure was a slap in the face to fans, so his comments in March about the team’s potential relocation to Las Vegas were a gut punch. In the minutes before the A’s Hall of Fame ceremony on Sunday afternoon, prior to the final Bay Bridge Series game against the San Francisco Giants, Giambi reiterated his pro-Vegas sentiments.

“If you’re a fan, you’re going to follow your team no matter what,” Giambi explained. “That’s the exciting part, the buzz in Vegas.” There have been a lot of great players come out of there. Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, Joey Gallo. Not only does California have great baseball; Vegas also has a lot of great baseball.

“I’m hoping that all of the serious A’s fans will show up.” I know they’ll miss their team, but I hope they’ll all continue to support the A’s because they’re a special group.”

Giambi, who now lives in Las Vegas, was a member of some of the most exciting A’s teams in the franchise’s 55-year history. An emotional Giambi recalled playing with the “Big Three” of Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder, learning from fellow slugger Mark McGwire, and touching the same grass as his idols Terry Steinbach and Dennis Eckersley.

Nothing compared to the two years he spent with the A’s alongside his brother, the late Jeremy Giambi, who committed suicide in 2022.

“Those were my favorite two years of my career,” Giambi said after receiving his Hall of Fame green jacket at the podium.

The A’s threats to relocate to Las Vegas seemed all the more frivolous in light of their Hall of Fame ceremony commemorating the team’s rich history in Oakland. Generations of Major League Baseball’s biggest stars sat elbow-to-elbow, from the 1970s three-peat teams to the late 1980s and 1990s super-teams and early 2000s trailblazers.

Giambi, Carney Lansford, Gene Tenace, the late Bob Johnson, and the “voice of god,” PA Roy Steele, were the newest inductees, with current Hall of Famers Tony La Russa, Ricky Henderson, Eckersley, Dave Stewart, and Rollie Fingers present to celebrate.

Tenace used his acceptance speech to pay tribute to his late teammates Vida Blue, Sal Bando, and Ray Fosse.

Stewart made a point of calling Lansford the true captain of their World Series-winning teams from the late 1980s and early 1990s in his introduction. Lansford, a native of San Jose, kept thoughts of the team’s possible relocation to himself.

Other native Bay Area Hall-of-Famers were more outspoken.

Henderson, an Oakland native who spent 14 of his 25-year MLB career with the A’s, blamed the city for the team’s demise. Notably, Henderson serves as a special advisor to A’s president Dave Kaval, who is spearheading the team’s relocation effort.

“It’s saddening, not angering,” Henderson explained. “I’m a fan of the Oakland A’s.” Oakland is my name. I work for the company. I’m not just upset with the organization; I’m also upset with the city. They can’t agree on anything. Here, we’ve lost a lot of professional teams. It has to be something with the city, not just the team.”

When asked about A’s fans protesting the relocation — a movement that began with a “reverse boycott” in June and has since grown into a fan-led demonstration in ballparks across the country — Henderson said fans’ rage should also be directed at the city of Oakland.

“The team means a lot to me. “I’m not a fan of the protesting against the organization because I’ve seen other teams leave and we can’t keep them,” Henderson said. “It’s not that the fans won’t come out to support them; I know they’re the type of city that will.” But who is attempting to accomplish this? I always say that if the city wants a team, they’ll get it.

“The city isn’t putting forth that much effort to keep the team.” They claim to desire the team. Someone has to take the initiative and make it happen. If you are unable to make it happen, you cannot blame the organization. They, too, have tasks to complete. I’m irritated as a fan. As a participant here, I’m frustrated because I know the city isn’t sitting at the table to make a decision. It’s a sad time, and I hope it never comes to pass.”

Another special advisor to Kaval, Fingers, expressed sympathy for As fans who may see their beloved team relocated.

“I’m sure the fans are upset because if you’re an Oakland A’s fan, you’ve been coming here for 50 years,” he explained. “All of a sudden, you won’t have a team here.” I’m sure they’ll be upset, and I’m sure they’ll express their feelings.”

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