On Tuesday, just over 40 thousand San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics fans — a sold out crowd in Oracle Park — united under one cause: to keep the A’s in Oakland.
In a second iteration in as many months of what was termed a “reverse boycott” — an effort to get fans to flock to a game in protest of the A’s proposed move to Las Vegas — A’s fans brought the action to the Giants’ home. The reverse boycott and the “sell the team” chants are meant to serve as a message to A’s owner John Fisher that fans are overwhelmingly in support of the team staying in Oakland.
The events of the day, turning the classic “Battle of the Bay” rivalry into a cause of mutual support, were spearheaded by Oakland 68’s and The Last Dive Bar, two organized fan groups of the A’s.
The night was what Robb Roberts, an A’s fan involved with the group, described as a “shift from aggressive competitiveness to aggressive cohesiveness.” What is normally a team rivalry developed into A’s fans calling for the support of the Giants’ fanbase.
Jenny Vega, who runs the Discord server “SF Giants Hangout,” a community for Giants fans, was involved in helping rally Giants fans for the cause.
“(Representing) Giants fans supporting the A’s fans to keep their team home, I think it’s a very important thing that we’re doing,” Vega said. “We need to keep this tradition, and we love the Battle of the Bay. We don’t want to see that leave the Bay, and we also want to see the A’s stay.”
Jorge Leon, president of the Oakland 68’s, said even he was surprised by the Giants fans’ reactions.
“The vibe was cool, I did not expect it to be so chill — I thought we would get more animosity from Giants fans, honestly,” Leon said. “I’ve been there back in the early 2000s when they first opened that ballpark …it was always either a shoving match, or a fight or what have you, and to see it like that, it was amazing.”
Before the game, organizers from the Oakland 68’s, alongside those from The Last Dive Bar were handing out posters and cheer cards, which detailed instructions. Upon the top of the fifth inning, all fans in the stadium would stand up and be in complete silence. After the first at-bat, the crowd would then erupt into cheers of “sell the team.”
“I really like that a lot of Giants fans have shown their support for our cause,” said Paul Bailey, co-founder of The Last Dive Bar. “A lot of Giants fans didn’t know what was going on, but once we explained what was going on, and showed them the back (of the cheer posters) and gave them a bit of coaching, they were down.”
The giveaways also included black “SELL” shirts, which even fans in Giants gear were wearing around the stadium. The shirts were made as part of a partnership between the 68’s and Oaklandish, an apparel store focused on celebrating Oakland’s history and culture. One thousand shirts were handed out before the game, compared to seven thousand at the last reverse protest game on June 13.
In the backdrop of the protests, the first four innings of the game were barren of any activity — the first run came only at the bottom of the fifth inning. But the activity in and around the stadium more than made up for a slow game. Outside of the planned chanting, spontaneous cheers of “sell the team” and “let’s go Oakland” were keeping the energy alive at Oracle Park.
“Organization (was) rough, because we’re a bunch of dumb idiots that learn everything from YouTube, but the coming together of everything has been amazing,” Bailey said. “People have responded super well to it, it’s been great, but we’ll really find out in the fifth inning, that’s when all of the drama is supposed to unfold.”
At the top of the fifth inning, everything went according to plan — for the most part. Leon said that chants started a little prematurely, but fans were still able to get their message across, so much so that the chants were audible on the TV and radio broadcasts, reaching bars, living rooms and cars far beyond the Bay Area.
After A’s shortstop Aledmys Díaz scored off a JJ Bleday base hit to tie the game at 1-1 at the top of the eighth, another spontaneous flood of “sell the team” chants echoed across the ballpark. But for Leon, the excitement was another reminder of the A’s impending move.
“It was amazing, but it just reminded me again, why do we have to go through this? Why can’t we just enjoy the game and be loud and passionate, and not worry about this other stuff on the back of our minds,” Leon said.
Though the game ended in a 2-1 loss for the A’s, it was a marked success for a movement that has been picking up steam, both with fans and in the media.
“I’m not going to lie, 72 hours before I was a little nervous because (there was) not much media attention, and then all of a sudden — boom, I’ve done like five interviews,” Bailey said.
Leon said that he was “overwhelmingly relieved” that the movement has been picking up steam — “this is exactly what we’ve been protesting for years,” he said.
The next planned event is set for Aug. 5, when the A’s host their Bay Area rivals at the Coliseum. The planned giveaway from the fan groups is rally towels — in an effort to create a “sea of gold,” according to Leon.
“That’s what we’re trying to do: keep the pressure on, keep the pedal on the gas and don’t let up,” Leon said. “That’s what we can do with our power, just keep doing what we can, and hopefully someone out there is listening and seeing this.”