For the first time since 2011, the Philadelphia Phillies will once again welcome the Oakland Athletics, the team that used to be their not-so-crosstown rivals, into Citizen’s Bank Park for a three-game series in September of 2014. The only problem is the teams play just that one series, and who knows when the next one will be after that.
But it shouldn’t be that way, and there is no reason not to start an annual interleague series between the Athletics and Phillies.
No, the Athletics and Phillies are not separated by an interstate, the Beltway, a freeway or a subway line, but what they do have is a rivalry rooted in rich history. They have done what none of the teams that participate in interleague rivalries today have done, and that is share more than a city, but a suburb.
Their stadiums were within walking distance from each other, and they fought for revenues, for players and for fans. They turned Philadelphia into a surefire baseball city and that has never been forgotten.
In 1903, the Phillies and Athletics played their first ever “City Series” at Baker Bowl. It was won by the Phillies by a score of 6-5. Since that first series, the two teams played off and on over the years. But when the Athletics left Philadelphia for Kansas City prior to the 1955 season, the series came to an end. It wasn’t until 2003, nearly 50 years later, that the two teams once again faced off.
But it wasn’t just any interleague series. It was clear that MLB knew what they were doing and the same could be said for the two teams. Philadelphia invited two former A’s to the game, former manager Connie Mack‘s daughter was in attendance and Mack’s grandson threw out the first pitch. Once again, the great tradition that was the Phillies/Athletics rivalry was back in full force.
Unfortunately though, nothing really came of this one-time reunion of sorts. The two teams did not meet again until 2005 and after that, it would be another six years until Philadelphia welcomed the A’s back home.
That is much too long for two teams that shared a city.
The problem is MLB seems to have forgotten the greatness that this rivalry had. Over the years, the distance has really toned down the rivalry, but the connections are never going to go away. As you can see in the picture above, Oakland still uses the elephant on their jerseys, a symbol that dates back to their days in Philadelphia when Mack was manager.
Their mascot is also an elephant named Stomper. And the Phillies, they played in a stadium named after Mack, a man who had nothing to do with the Phillies but everything to do with the city of Philadelphia and its baseball team.
While the elephant logo has been used on and off and Connie Mack Stadium has since been replaced by Citizen’s Bank, neither the Phillies nor the Athletics should ever forget that they are still and will also be connected through baseball and the city of Philadelphia.
There is so much history there that the league is not taking advantage of, and it really is a shame. Both the Phillies and A’s could benefit from an annual series and it would make old-school baseball fans, especially those in Philadelphia that miss their A’s, so very happy.
If MLB ever asked my opinion, they would know that 2014 needs to be the first annual “Connie Mack” Series. Both teams can wear their old uniforms, any former players can and should be invited, and Stomper and the Phanatic can even have it out. Mack’s memory would forever live on in a way that would make him proud, and the two teams can once again remember and reignite the rivalry they used to share.
There really is no downside to this at all.
Marilee Gallagher is a baseball writer for RantSports.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MGallagher17 like her page on Facebook, or join her network on Google.