New Oakland Athletics President Dave Kaval holds his first open office hours, speaking to Saint Mary’s College sophomores Michael Doran, left, and Ryan Mitchell, center, both 19 and longtime A’s fans, at the Oakland Coliseum on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Janie McCauley)
By Amaury Pi Gonzalez
OAKLAND–About 15,000 people attended the Oakland Athletics 2017 Fan fest this past Sunday which is approximately the average crowd they have drawn during a whole season for the past few years.
As Vice President of The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame, I attended the Fan Fest and had a tent/booth for the museum. We were right next to another non-profit, Tony LaRussa’s ARF(Animal Rescue Foundation) fun fact LaRussa and I are born on the same exact date and year. As every year, at this time I met and chatted with many many folks, including those that listen to A’s Spanish radio. Many of the questions for the new A’s President were the ones that I heard from the fans.
Mr. Kaval came to our tent/booth at the Fan Fest and I had a chance of doing an informal interview.
Q; What do you think of the crowd?
Kaval: “Great, a great crowd on a beautiful day”.
Q: Many fans asked me about what is the news of a new ballpark for the A’s?
Kaval: We will know soon and make an announcement, we are considering different sites”.
Q: Why not the same Coliseum, it has great accessibility, BART on the east side of the Coliseum and Highway 880 on the west side, why not building a new park right there?
Kaval: “That is a possibility, especially if the Raiders (who we want to stay at Oakland) it’s a good thing to have the Raiders stay but if they happen to leave, maybe that area could be turned into a new ballpark for the Athletics”.
Q: The situation about players staying with the A’s is always a case for all fans, many asked me that although they like the A’s it is tough because they trade all the good players.
Kaval: “Well, if we build a new park things will change we will have a situation where we would be able to keep all the players that we all love”.
Q: Is Sony Gray going to be traded?
Kaval: “I like to have Sonny Gray with us for the near future and maybe like for the next ten years”.
David Kaval was speaking to a group of fans in front of The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame who asked him: ‘Would we be able to keep our same position as last year for out tailgate parties?
Kaval: “I do not see why not”.
Fans: We would love to have you to visit us….
Kaval”: Sure where will you be?
After the fans told Kaval their location for their tailgate parties, they asked him, what do you like to eat?
Kaval: “What do you have?
Fans: Anything you want…sausage, tri tip, burger, you name it”.
Kaval: “I love tri tip, so I will be there”.
Fans: You got it!.
David Kaval was friendly and engaged with the fans as he walked around during a sunny and very nice afternoon at Jack London Square.
The day before, Friday, the Oakland A’s had their First Pitch Luncheon at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Oakland. This is a yearly affair where the A’s invite their sponsors and most players show up to mingle with the fans. Question were also asked from the audience after the luncheon, and mostly were geared to the “new ballpark”. Ken Korach introduced all the A’s announcers, but forgot to introduce yours truly and it was a front office employee who stood up as he grabbed the mic that was passed from table to table to say: “we also have here today the Spanish play by play announcer of the Oakland A’s, Amaurty Pi-Gonzalez”.
They forgot about me, and Korach apologize for that oversight. This is not the first time it happened, but I have been in this business way too long to get all worked-up about such things. I feel I am blessed to keep working and doing what I like, since 1977, when Charlie O. Finley told me: “Amaury, you can broadcast in Mexican”.
Mr Finely (RIP) thought that Mexican was a language, which it is not, it is a nationality, the language is called Spanish. But those are the things I have seen and heard over almost 40 years in this business. So nothing surprises me anymore. Although it might surprise some of the readers if I would start to list them. I expressed my opinion to the new Athletics President David Kaval, about the biggest issue that confronts him and his franchise, the construction of a new ballpark in Oakland.
I told him that they already have the location, it is right where the Oakland Coliseum sits today, and they could built a brand new ballpark right there, the only problem is that that area is an industrial section of Oakland, and the common denominator in new baseball parks is that they are built in downtown areas or places where there is an infrastructure, restaurants, theaters, all kind of places where people could also go and spend a whole day there after watching a ballgame.
Unlike the 2016 Fan fest which took place at the Oakland Coliseum and it rained and rained and rained, this time it was a marvelous day at Jack London Square and it seemed fans had a great time, and that is what it is all about, that is why it is called “Fan Fest”.
Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio voice for the Oakland A’s, the vice president of the MLB Hispanic Heritage Museum and does News and Commentary each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com