Andy Dolich

7-16-18 - Andy Dolich
Andy with Major League Baseball's Dave Dziedzic debuting the 1987 All-Star Game poster

Andy Dolich -- 2015
Andy Dolich
In Reflection,
the Oakland A's 

By Andy Dolich

Andy Dolich, a consummate and highly regarded Bay Area marketing executive, has served in administrative capacities for the Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, the San Francisco 49ers and other professional organizations. Dolich was the Oakland A's VP of business operations for 14 years and draws upon his personal experience to reflect on the team's history as the Athletics celebrate 50th years in Oakland. Below  is the first of his three part series. (Items
displayed in this article are from Andy's personal collection.)

A Half Century of Oakland A's Ownerships
The Oakland A's are celebrating the club's 50th anniversary throughout this season and the All-Star break seemed like a good time to look into the history of this storied franchise. This is especially appropriate since the team is playing at such a high level and showing home run power that has been their signature since they came to Oakland.

Since moving from Kansas City in 1967 the A's have been owned by only four entities:
1968-1980:  Charles O. Finley -- 13 years
1981-1995:  Walter Haas, Wally Haas and Roy Eisenhardt -- 15 years
1996-2004:  Steve Schott/Ken Hofmann -- 9 years
2005-2018:  Lew Wolff/John Fisher (Fisher buys Wolff out in November, 2016) -- 13 years

Comparing different eras and ownerships is an inexact science and this comparison isn't meant to be an equation which can be proven by a group of Analytics PhDs. There are a number of categories that are instructive on the differentiators between the four ownerships over a half century. It is no secret that I have a positive bias towards the Haas family, having worked in their front office from 1980-1994.

This is my overview of the franchise from A's to Z, "Z" being team photographer Michael Zagaris who has seen and photographed most of the 50 years of A's baseball.

7-16-18 - Andy Dolich
Dave Stewart, Ellen Dolich, Nancy Regan, Andy Dolich

Meeting Charlie O. Finley
I only met Charlie Finley once at a Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. At the VIP reception Finley arrived proudly wearing his favorite, loud yellow/gold blazer to introduce Jim Catfish Hunter. Charlie O. came into the room  cradling a dayglo-striped football that he had been pitching as it would show up better for high school games played under substandard lighting. Raiders owner Al Davis was also in the room to induct Quarterback Ken "Snake" Stabler.

An enterprising San Francisco Chronicle photographer approached Finley and said,  "Mr. Finley, can I borrow the ball for a minute for a photo with Al and the Snake?"

"No," snapped Charlie.

The photographer laughed and asked again. Finley turned on his heels and walked away, firmly clutching the pigmented pigskin.

Clearly Charles O. Finley wasn't big on sharing.

My replica World Series trophy, autographed ticket and baseball card from May 1, 1991, when Rickey Henderson broke Lou Brock's MLB career stolen base record of 939. 
Original claymation elephant which we used in a number of TV ad spots
7-16-18 - Andy Dolich
A's/Giants Split Cap which Pat Gallagher of the Giants and I created for Bay Bridge Series games

Regular Season Winning Percentage
Finley -- 52.1%
Haas -- 51.4%
Schott/Hofmann -- 54.0%
Fisher -- 50.2% 

Playoff and American League Championship Success
Finley -- Won three World Series titles in a row: 1972, 73 and 74. Won three American League Championship Series titles in a row: 1972, 73 and 74. Lost two American League Championship Series titles in 1971 and 75.
Haas -- Won one World Series title: 1989. Won three American League Championship Series titles in 1988, 89 and 90. Lost American League Championship Series titles in 1981 and 92. Won the American League Division Series in 1981.
Schott/Hofmann --  No World Series or American League titles. Lost American League West Division Series titles in 2000, 01,02 and 03.
Fisher -- No World Series titles. Lost American League Championship Series in 2006. Won American League Division Series in 2006. Lost American League Division Series in 2012, and 13. Lost Wild Card in 2014.

Attendance: Overall average per season of their ownership terms
Finley -- 9,642
Haas -- 23,826
Schott/Hoffman - 21,145
Fisher -- 20,858

Attendance: Finley
Under Finley the A's posted some of the lowest attendance numbers in the modern history of Major League Baseball.
*  In 1979 they drew a paltry and almost unbelievable season attendance of 306,763, for an average of 3,787 fans per game.
In a game on April 17, 1979 only 250 fans holding the 653 tickets sold showed up for an A's victory.  

Attendance: Haas
When the new ownership group showed up for the 1981 season we inherited a season ticket base of 326 -- not accounts, but total full season tickets from the Finley finale. Before the first pitch we had pushed it up to 4,000 full season tickets.
*  In 1990 the team set its all-time attendance record of 2,900,217 or 35,805 fans per game.
*  The 1988 season was the first season in which the franchise drew over 2 million (2,287,335) to the Coliseum.
*  T he Athletics' 1981 season ranks among the organization's most interesting. Only two years removed from a disastrous 54-108 finish, the A's won their first American League West crown since 1975 under second-year manager Billy Martin. The "Billy Ball" A's began the season with a then American League record 11 consecutive wins. The squad followed its first loss of the season, losing 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners, with six more victories. Their 17-1 start (through 18 games) remains unmatched.
*  The team played only 99 games in 1981 due to a baseball labor lock out which canceled 713 games league wide. The A's were 35-21 at the Coliseum, drawing 1,304,052 fans. Based on their average attendance of 25,000 per game over 25 games they could have added an additional 625,000 fans driving attendance to near 2 million. It would have been baseball's greatest one-year attendance increase in history.
*  A season low occurred in 1983, drawing 1,294,941 for an average of 15,987 per game.
*  The only All-Star game ever played in Oakland took place on July 14, 1987, drawing a sellout of 49,671. The San Francisco Giants have hosted three All-Star games in San Francisco, the  last one coming in 2007.
*  On April 16, 1982 the A's set a record of 51,513 for Opening Day.

7-22-18 - Andy Dolich
 A's Jersey with BUSH on the back which we brought to President George Bush (POTUS 41) for our White House visit on November 7, 1989, after sweeping the Giants. I had it autographed by the Commander and Chief

7-16-18 - Andy Dolich
A wall hanging of Oakland A's memories which I created from cards, press passes and tickets over the years

Attendance -- Schott/Hofmann
Season high in 2003 of 2,206,596, averaging 27,365 per game
Season low in 1996 of 1,148,380, averaging 14,178 per game

Attendance -- Fisher
Season high in 2014 of 2,003,628, averaging 24,736 per game
Season low in 2009 of 1,418,391, averaging 17,511 per game

*  In 2017 the A's finished 29th in attendance, averaging 18,466 at the Coliseum.
*  In 2016 they finished next to last again, averaging 18,784. So far this season (as of 7/4) they are averaging 15,847, in 27th place.

7-16-18 - Andy Dolich
Oakland Athletics Magazine, 1990. No. 1, Vol. 10.

Free Ticket Game  -- On April 17, 2018 the A's gave away free tickets to celebrate their 50th anniversary in Oakland, hoping to break their all-time attendance record. 46,028 showed up for the A's 10-2 win over the Chicago White Sox, 2,000 shy of capacity.

Sandy Alderson
My friend and long time A's colleague Sandy Alderson is battling cancer. He recently left his position as general manager of the New York Mets to deal with ongoing treatment. I would ask that all A's fans keep Sandy and his family in their thoughts.

The second of Andy's three-part series will appear next issue.

Andy Dolich has over five decades of leadership in the sports industry, including executive positions in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, pro soccer and lacrosse. Dolich teaches sports business at Stanford's School of Continuing Studies and is co-author of the new book:

3-6-17 - Pops

Michael King (left), with an associate from USF (center), and Karla Granadino-King, are pictured at the Olympic Club in San Francisco,  proudly sharing with the world their  Pops Premium Rumpopo. A King family secret, Pops Premium Rumpopo is a  delicious rum cream liqueur recipe brewed in the family tradition.  The award winning recipe is a Belizean family favorite and now available at all Total Wine & More stores in California and Bay Area retailers.
For more information, visit https://www.bzecheers.com/rumpopo

Pops - Original
Pops Back Label