OAKLAND – When A’s shortstop Nick Allen played on one of his travel ball teams as a kid, he was given the number 10, which he kept for several more years.
Allen recalled that No. 10 was also worn at the time by Miguel Tejada, who wore it when he was with the Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres and finally the San Francisco Giants in 2011.
“Growing up, he was definitely one of the greatest in the game,” Allen, who turns 24 in October, said of Tejada. “It was really cool to watch him play.”
Tejada, a six-time MLB All-Star, is scheduled to be at the Coliseum on Sunday for the A’s ceremony to honor the 2002 team that won a then-AL record 20 straight games.
The event is not only an opportunity for fans to see the team one more time, but it’s also a chance for current A’s players to become familiar with members of that 103-win squad. Tejada, for example, was the AL’s MVP that year as he hit 34 home runs to go with an .861 OPS.
Here are five facts that may have been forgotten about the A’s 20-game hitting streak in 2002.
1. BILLY IRONMAN: Then-A’s closer Billy Koch, who is slated on Sunday, made 13 appearances in 20 games between Aug. 13 and Sept. 4, 2002. The results? Nine saves, a 3-0 record and a 1.93 ERA over 14 innings. He had 10 strikeouts and nine walks in that time.
However, Koch had just one save during the streak. That happened in the 20th inning as he gave up an RBI single to Luis Allcea with two outs in the top of the ninth as the Royals tied the game 11-11. Of course, Koch ended up with the win after Scott Hatteberg’s Scott Hatteberg soloed home with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
2. FOR STARTERS: The A’s got off to a mostly outstanding start during the series, as the Big Three of Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito combined to win 11 of 20 games.
However, the A’s best starting pitcher during the streak was Cory Lidle. He went 3-0 and allowed just one earned run over 30⅓ innings in four starts, which included a complete game on Aug. 21 in a 6-0 A’s win over Cleveland.
Lidle died on October 11, 2006, in a plane crash in New York. His wife, Melanie, and their son Christopher are attending the ceremony on Cory’s behalf.
3. WORK CONTROLS: A work stoppage loomed near the end of August as MLB and the Players Association worked frantically to finalize a new collective bargaining agreement.
Just eight years earlier, the 1994 strike by the players wiped out the remainder of that season, plus the playoffs and World Series were both canceled. Could it happen again?
Finally, with just hours to spare before the strike deadline set by the union, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a four-year deal on August 30, and the baseball schedule continued without a hitch. The main economic issues to be resolved at the time were income sharing and a luxury tax on payrolls.
The A’s went on to win their 16th straight game on August 30, a 4-2 home victory over the Minnesota Twins, and snapped another four in a row to set the AL record. Maybe nothing happens if baseball doesn’t find labor peace in the final hour.
4. DO NOT WITHDRAW: The A’s entered their Aug. 13 matchup with Toronto with a more than respectable 68-51 record, but were still in third place in the AL West. The first place Seattle Mariners were 72-46 and the Anaheim Angels were 70-48.
The A’s moved into a three-way tie for first place on August 20 after winning their seventh straight, a 6-3 victory over Cleveland. Oakland moved into sole possession of first place on August 23, one game ahead of Seattle, with a 9-1 victory over Detroit.
Even at the end of the 20 game streak, the A’s were not in a comfortable position. With their 12-11 win over Kansas City on September 4, the A’s were just 3 1/2 games ahead of the Angels. Seattle had fallen seven games behind by that point.
After some spotty games in mid-September, the A’s were neck and neck with Anaheim again. Oakland eventually righted the ship and ended up winning the division by four games over the Angels, who would go on to win the World Series that year.
5. VOICE: A’s play-by-play announcer Ken Korach’s calls for Tejada’s final hits in the 18th and 19th games of the streak will go on forever. Korach, however, only got that opportunity because Bill King decided to stay on a scheduled vacation he had scheduled around Labor Day.
As the A generation approached record proportions, someone mentioned to King that he might want to return from his vacation a little earlier than expected. King, however, didn’t believe it was the right thing to do to Korach, who remained Radio A’s lead voice for some of the group’s most memorable moments.