OAKLAND -- Since the introduction of the Oakland A’s Hall of Fame in 2018, there have been 12 key figures of the organization inducted into the prestigious club.
Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Dave Stewart and Charlie Finley were the members of the inaugural class. Those seven were later joined by Tony La Russa, Mark McGwire, Vida Blue, Bert Campaneris and Walter A. Haas Jr. in 2019.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the A's did not induct anyone into their Hall of Fame last season, but the hope is that the practice can continue once fans are allowed back at the Coliseum for a proper ceremony.
Here are five candidates for the next Oakland A’s Hall of Fame class.
The A’s formed a dynasty in the 1970s, winning three straight World Series championships from 1972-74, and “Captain Sal” got it done on offense and defense as the leader of those clubs. He just missed out on capturing the American League MVP Award in ‘71, finishing second to his teammate Blue.
But even without the award, Bando’s legacy as perhaps the greatest third baseman to play for Oakland was established over his 11 seasons with the club, which included four All-Star selections and three top-four finishes in AL MVP Award voting.
There is obviously controversy surrounding Canseco, but the A’s have embraced the slugger in recent years, inviting him back in 2018 to honor him alongside the other 49 players who comprised Oakland’s 50th anniversary team.
The 1986 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, a five-time All-Star and a three-time Silver Slugger while in Oakland, Canseco powered the A’s to three straight AL pennants from 1988-90, as well as a World Series title in ’89. He ranks first among A’s right fielders in RBIs (793) and second in home runs (254) and stolen bases (135). He became the youngest unanimous MVP Award winner in MLB during his age-23 season in 1988, hitting .307/.391/.569, swiping 40 bases and leading the AL in homers (42) and RBIs (124).
Rudi never put up eye-popping statistics, but he was a consistent contributor to the strong A’s teams in the 1970s. His finest season came in '74, as he led the AL with 39 doubles and slashed .293/.334/.484 with 22 home runs and 99 RBIs. His ‘72 campaign was also impressive, as he led the AL in hits (181) and triples (9).
Rudi was a three-time All-Star who also won three AL Gold Glove Awards, with perhaps his greatest defensive moment coming in the 1972 World Series, when he leaped at the left-field wall for a game-saving catch in the ninth inning of Game 2. Whether it was on offense or defense, he came up big when the lights shined bright, batting .300 with two homers and nine RBIs over 19 career World Series games.
Acquired in a three-team trade with the Dodgers and Mets in December 1987, Welch quickly established himself as one of the top pitchers in the AL and anchored some powerhouse A’s clubs. Oakland reached the World Series in each of Welch’s first three seasons with the team, capturing a World Series title in '89.
Welch won the AL Cy Young Award in 1990, going 27-6 with a 2.95 ERA, and he went 96-60 with a 3.94 ERA over seven seasons with the A's to end his career. After his retirement, Welch returned to the organization as a Minor League pitching coach before his death in a tragic accident in 2014.
Henderson signed with the A’s in December 1987, then quickly developed into a force in the middle of the order through the late 1980s. "Hendu" became a fan favorite in Oakland and a World Series hero in '89 by bashing a pair of home runs against the Giants.
Henderson played six seasons with Oakland, batting .263 with 104 home runs and 377 RBIs in 702 games. The outfielder earned the lone All-Star selection of his 14-year career in '91 as a member of the A’s.