Athletics Franchise History: KC Sluggers

Most longtime fans of the Athletics are familiar with the exploits of the team's dynasties in Philadelphia and Oakland. The Kansas City years, however, generally escape notice by A's fans, thanks to the general futility of those teams. However, there were a number of sluggers that filled the line-ups of the KC A's. Donald Moore reviews the top hitters for the KC A's.

The Athletics franchise has had its share of great power hitters throughout its existence. Nineteen of those exceptional talented Athletics hitters would eventually land in Baseball's Hall Of Fame and help the A's win nine World Series titles.

From Connie Mack's White Elephants sluggers Frank "Home Run" Baker, Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx and Gus Zernial, to the Oakland A's mashers Reggie Jackson, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, the Athletics have been no slouches when it comes to players who could dominate their opponents with one swing of the bat.

As for the hapless Kansas City A's and their 13 consecutive losing seasons, they still produced some lethal bats. The first true Kansas City A's power hitter was a 32 year old Philadelphia A's import, left fielder Gus Zernial. Zernial led the 1955 KC A's with 30 home runs (good for second in the AL) with 84 RBIs. First baseman Vic Power hit 19 home runs, drove in 76 runs and finished second in the AL with a .319 average. Third baseman Hector Lopez also chipped in 15 home runs that year.

In 1956, a well-traveled outfielder/first baseman, Harry "Suitcase" Simpson, led the A's with 21 home runs, followed by Hector Lopez's 20 home runs and Gus Zernial's 18 homers. Incidentally, Zernial was injured most of the year, which affected his home run total and he was dismayed that A's manager Lou Boudreau platooned him when healthy. In 1957, a healthy Gus Zernial bounced back and hit 27 home runs, followed by outfielder Woodie Held's 20 homers and outfielder Lou Skizak's 18 bombs.

The 1958 Kansas City A's made a series of trades during the off-season and, in the process, they picked up some very powerful bats and future All Stars. Outfielder Bob Cerv, who was acquired from the New York Yankees on waiver claim, led the A's with 38 home runs. He was followed by a former Cleveland Indians prospect, 23 year old right-fielder Roger Maris, who hit 19 homers for the A's that season, with Hector Lopez hitting 17 home runs.

In 1959, Bob Cerv led the A's in homers with 20, followed by fan favorite Roger Maris' 16 homers and future A's manager Dick Williams' 16 home runs. Both Cerv and Maris were injured that year, and the A's eventually would send both Maris and Cerv to the New York Yankees in 1960.

The 1960 Kansas City A's were flush with a slew of new players who really didn't perform that well. The one bright spot was former Yankee outfielder/first baseman Norm Siebern, who would lead the A's with 19 home runs and 69 runs batted in. Utilityman Dick Williams added 12 homeruns, as did third baseman and former Yankee Andy Carey, who hit 12 homers.

The 1961 A's were basically punchless, distracted by A's owner Charlie Finley's season-long battle with A's manager Joe Gordon. That year, the A's were led again by Norm Siebern's 18 homers. Infielder Wayne Causey added eight home runs, along with outfielder Deron Johnson's eight homers. Johnson would later serve as a DH for the Oakland A's.

The 1962 A's regained their power and were led by Norm Siebern's 25 home runs, followed by third baseman Ed Charles 17 home runs, and new Milwaukee Braves import and outfielder Manny Jiminez's 11 home runs. The 23 year old Jiminez was a top prospect in the Braves system. He was acquired by the A's during the off-season and was considered the top prize in the deal. Jiminez led the AL in hitting for the first two months, batting at a .362 clip. In July, A's owner Charlie Finley ordered the youngster to hit home runs instead of hitting for average and Jiminez slumped thereafter. He did finish with a .301 average, with 11 HRs and 69 RBIs. In 1963 -- the A's first year in green and gold uniforms -- the A's were again led in homers by outfielder Norm Siebern's 16. Eddie Charles smacked 15 home runs, followed by outfielder George Alusik's 9.

The 1964 Kansas City A's were led by a pair of power hitters, Rocky Colavito and Jim Gentile. Colavito was acquired from Detroit in a five-player deal and Gentile was acquired from the Orioles for the A's top hitter Norm Siebern. Colavito smashed the KC A's record of home runs by hitting 34 homers and driving-in 102 runs. Gentile hit 28 home runs and 71 runs batted in. Third baseman Ed Charles hit 16 homers, followed by outfielder Nelson Mathews' 14 home runs and Manny Jiminez's 12 homers.

The 1965 A's top home run hitter was first baseman Ken "The Hawk" Harrelson. He hit a total of 23 homeruns with 66 RBIs. Second baseman Dick Green added 15 home runs and catcher Billy Bryan hit 14 homers. The 1966 Kansas City A's suffered a severe power outage and had a lot of player turnover. Former New York Yankees outfielder Roger Repoz led the A's in home runs with 11, followed by Dick Green's and Ed Charles' nine homers. The 1967 A's were led by former number one draft pick Rick Monday's 14 home runs. First baseman Raymond Webster hit 11.

The Kansas City Athletics were more known for their consecutive 13 losing seasons and being a farm team to the powerful New York Yankees, but in reality, they also had some very large names that graced the diamond. From Rocky to Roger, the Kansas City A's added to the overall rich history of the Athletics.

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