"It's a record. Hopefully I'll go to my grave and I'll still have it," he said. "But records are made to be broken. Somebody will probably do it someday soon, but hopefully it will stand for a while, because this was a special group of guys that came to Oakland and came together. Great pitching staff. I don't know how many teams have the MVP [Miguel Tejada], Cy Young [Barry Zito] and the Fireman of the Year [Billy Koch] all at the same time, but we had it that year, and that speaks volumes about the team."
That A's team also had Scott Hatteberg, a catcher-turned-first-baseman who was featured prominently in the movie "Moneyball," which centered on the 2002 season and A's general manager Billy Beane. Hatteberg came off the bench and hit a pinch-hit solo home run in the bottom of the ninth against Kansas City, giving the A's a 12-11 victory and their 20th straight win.
"It was a great streak," Hatteberg said. "I wish we could have done more, obviously, as far as postseason. It was a great team effort, it was a great run. It was an experience that's hard to explain unless you were in the locker room. It was very much a bonding thing. So it's something we share, so when we see each other, it reminds each other of what was going on at that time, which was pretty special."
The A's went 103-59 that season, winning the American League West in Howe's final season as Oakland's manager. But in the AL Division Series, the A's lost in five games to Minnesota.
"We would have loved to gone deep in the playoffs and get a chance to see how we'd do in that next round," said Chad Bradford, a reliever on that team. "But when I look back to that season, I don't think about that, I think about the 20 wins in a row.
"Looking back, you realize how amazing it was . Even when we were going through it, as a player, you're just thinking, let's just win today and try to get to the postseason and all that. When your career's over, you look back, and that was amazing. Any other team I've been on, we didn't' come close to that. It truly was amazing, and the way it ended with Hatteberg, you couldn't write it up any better than that."
Former A's outfielder Terrence Long, a member of the 2002 team, said what he remembers most is how the A's proved the "doubters" wrong .
"We knew we had a good team," Long said. "You just have to battle and battle, and we got on a pretty good streak."
Howe has made it clear in the past that he felt the portrayal of him in "Moneyball" was unflattering and inaccurate. He said Friday that he had "mixed" emotions about returning for the celebration, which will include a pregame ceremony on Saturday. What swayed him to attend was the fact that the reunion will help raise money for the Cory Lidle Foundation. The former A's reliever, a member of the 2002 team, died in 2006 in a plane crash.
"When I heard that Cory Lidle, his foundation, was getting the proceeds for all this, I jumped at the chance," Howe said. "Cory was a big part of that club, an outstanding pitcher for us, a great human being."