An Evening with the Oakland A's Booster Club

At any level, a sports team is never greater then its fans. Oakland A's fans have long been known for their rabid support of their favorite team. So it isn't surprising that the A's boast one of the most active Booster Clubs in all of baseball. OaklandClubhouse.com writer Rachel Afraimi recently had the opportunity to meet with the board of this enthusiastic group of supporters. She offers this first-hand account of their most recent meeting…

As an A's fan, I'm always interested to learn more about the clubs that surround the team, so I jumped at the opportunity to sit in on Monday's meeting of the Oakland A's Booster Club Board of Directors at Francisco's Restaurant in Oakland. Francisco's offers a quaint warm environment, very fitting for the group of friends that make up the Booster Club. There was a lot of business to take care of at the meeting, but it is evident that the excitement that another baseball season is approaching filled the air and fueled the discussions.

First, some of the members gave me a little background about the Club that started in 1968 when the A's arrived in Oakland from Kansas City. The Booster Club is an organization of fans dedicated to supporting and promoting the A's, while also raising funds to support charities associated with the A's Community Fund. The Oakland A's Booster Club is the largest booster club in all of Major League Baseball with 1,030 current members.

"Our mission is to promote and support the A's and to have a great time doing it," former president Mary Meiring said.

As we waited for President Ken Stickney to arrive, I asked the assembled board members some of the questions looming over the A's franchise. My first question being what the members thought of the recent rumors circulating about the team moving to San Jose or Las Vegas. Most of the members were surprisingly cool about the rumored move.

"We hear these rumors every year, I just go with the flow," member Ester Mendes said.

Meiring agreed.

"I try not to pay much attention to the rumors, but if they move I will, of course, continue to support the team," she said.

Another question I was dying to ask was how the members felt about the break-up of the Big Three. On that point, too, the members were level-headed. While everyone was sad to see Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder go, they seemed to understand that it is the nature of the game and, and they have become used to losing some of their favorite players throughout the years.

Once Stickney arrived it was down to business for the next hour, and I learned about the rewards for being a Booster. One of the primary benefits is having the opportunity to attend special luncheons throughout the season, where a special guest emcee (usually associated with the team) is present. Past guests have included A's players Eric Brynes, Barry Zito, and Bobby Crosby, as well as Manager Ken Macha. In addition, A's radio media figures Robert Buan, Ken Korach, Shooty Babitt and Marty Lurie have stopped by to spend time with the die-hard group. The Booster Club will have seven luncheons during the 2005 season, all of them held at Francisco's.

The next topic on the agenda was planning for the Art Night Youth Fund. Every season the Boosters donate up to $5000 -- which they raise from holding raffles --- to the youth funds associated with the Oakland A's Community Fund. These charities help disadvantaged youth throughout the East Bay. The money is usually spent on tickets to games for disadvantaged children and also to help restore baseball fields and play yard equipment.

The final segment of the meeting centered on upcoming activities, including the Booster Club's annual spring training trip to Phoenix, upcoming pre-game tailgates for the 2005 regular season, and the possibility of the Booster Club getting more involved with the A's annual Root Beer Float Day and Wine Festival.

I was so impressed with what they do and all the activities they plan I signed my membership application on the spot.

There is a yearly fee of $10 to be become a member of the Booster Club. To learn more about the Club, or download a membership application, visit their website at www.oaklandathleticsbooster.com. If you are interested in meeting some of the members in person, you can also visit the Booster Club table at Fan Fest on February 12th at the McAfee Coliseum.


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