A's honoring 1972 title team this weekend

A's honoring 1972 title team this weekend

A's honoring 1972 title team this weekend
OAKLAND -- They've enjoyed each other's company for over 40 years and any chance to get back together is a chance accepted.

The 1972 World Series Champion Oakland Athletics are in town this weekend for a team reunion and celebration. Saturday's pregame ceremonies will be carried live on oaklandathletics.com. Rollie Fingers is scheduled to throw out the first pitch.

"You have to remember that most of these guys played in the Minors together," A's outfielder Joe Rudi said Friday. "We all grew up together. A lot of these guys I haven't seen for 10 years, and yet it's like we never lost contact."

The 1972 team was the first of three consecutive World Championship teams for Oakland, and there may have been even more titles had former owner Charlie Finley decided to try and keep the team together instead of breaking up the core of the team.

The A's won the West Division title in 1971, and won the division again in 1975, when Catfish Hunter was pitching for the New York Yankees.

"When you stop and think about it, we beat the Reds, the Mets and the Dodgers," former A's infielder Tim Cullen said. "But what amazes me is the Reds were voted the Team of the '70s."

Cullen, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and currently resides in Napa, retired after the 1972 season, at the age of 30.

"Finley had the same problem in the Coliseum that they are having now," Cullen said. "It's a small market and the facility is the worst. Frankly, I'm pulling for them to get something in San Jose. It would be good for baseball."

A's manager Bob Melvin, who wears No. 6 in honor of his favorite player, A's third baseman Sal Bando, was among those in attendance, at age 11, during the 1972 Series.

"It was easy to be an A's fan at the time," Melvin said. "I remember the atmosphere and how entertaining the team was to watch."

Rudi's first game in Oakland turned out to be Hunter's perfect game in 1968. It was also his first game as an outfielder.

"I was an outfielder when I signed but they wanted me to play first base," Rudi said. "Joe DiMaggio was with us then and he helped me in the outfield. He was a lifesaver for me."

DiMaggio hit fly balls to Rudi for a half-hour every day, so by the time he made his miraculous catch in the 1972 World Series, he'd done it in practice a thousand times already.

"When it came off the bat it was like deja vu for me," Rudi said. "I had practiced that play a lot. I caught it and rolled my glove so it wouldn't come out. Those are things Joe DiMaggio taught me."

Rudi's teammates included a pair of future Hall of Famers in Fingers and Reggie Jackson, Cy Young Award winner Vida Blue, World Series MVP Gene Tenace and fellow All-Stars Bert Campaneris and Ken Holzman.

Cullen, Dave Duncan, Dick Green, Dave Hamilton, Mike Hegan, Joe Horlen, Darold Knowles, Ted Kubiak and Bob Locker also were expected to be in attendance.

Rudi said he continues to get more requests for autographs now than he did when he played.

"It's interesting," he said. "It has stayed pretty strong. I still get a couple of letters every day."

Fans were able to get Rudi's autograph, along with the other members of the 1972 team, on Friday night in a benefit for the Jim "Catfish" Hunter ALS Foundation.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.