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'Moneyball' filming sparks fond memories

'Moneyball' filming sparks fond memories

OAKLAND -- It was the year of the streak, the year of Billy Koch and the year of "Moneyball."

The 2002 season was certainly a memorable one for the A's, and it will soon be immortalized on the silver screen. Fans wishing to relive the magical campaign will get their chance from July 25-Aug. 5, as the movie "Moneyball" will be filming at the Oakland Coliseum.

Among the current A's, only two are left from the 2002 team: Eric Chavez and Mark Ellis. As author Michael Lewis infiltrated the minds of Oakland's front office and players for his bestselling book, Ellis was a rookie second baseman.

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For Ellis, no memory trumps the 20-game win streak Oakland put together in the second half of the season.

"Without a doubt, that's one of my favorite moments ever from baseball," Ellis said. "It was just a special time -- we just kept winning ballgames. It seemed like we got out to a 3-0 lead all the time, and if we did need a big hit late in the game, Miguel Tejada was getting the big hit for us. It was a really incredible time."

The A's ended their streak in style, earning their 18th, 19th and 20th wins in their final at-bat. First was Tejada's three-run homer off then-Twins closer Eddie Guardado to win No. 18, then Tejada delivered a game-winning single off Kansas City's Jason Grimsley in the ninth inning for consecutive win No. 19.

First baseman Scott Hatteberg saved the best for last with a dramatic pinch-hit solo homer off Grimsley to give the A's a 12-11 win on Sept. 4, 2002, their 20th in a row. Ellis was in the on-deck circle to witness Hatteberg's blast.

While Oakland's "Big Three" of Barry Zito (23-5, 2.75 ERA), Tim Hudson (15-9, 2.98 ERA) and Mark Mulder (19-7, 3.47 ERA) were consistent all year, Koch -- the A's closer in 2002 -- often made things interesting in the ninth inning.

Koch went 11-4 with 44 saves and a 3.27 ERA in 2002 but earned five victories after blowing a save, including the team's 20th straight win.

"He was an awesome teammate," Ellis said of Koch. "He had a lot of personality, a lot of life. He was kind of like the way he was like as a closer -- he would walk the bases loaded and then get three strikeouts."

Though the A's eventually lost to the Twins in the American League Division Series, Tejada won the AL MVP Award, Zito won the AL Cy Young Award and the late Cory Lidle shined in the second half.

Brad Pitt will play the role of general manager Billy Beane in the movie, while Jonah Hill will be assistant general manager Paul DePodesta and Philip Seymour Hoffman will play manager Art Howe.

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