By David Mullens
With the excitement of the American League and National League Championship Series in full force, a recent baseball footnote barely caused a ripple. On October 16, Oakland Athletics closer Trevor May retired.
With the unexpected emergence of the lowly regarded Texas Rangers hitting and pitching their way into the national spotlight, the Philadelphia Phillies hitting bombs out of the Bank, the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks exposing the weaknesses of the theoretically invincible Los Angeles Dodgers and the charlatan Houston Astros again playing for a World Series bid without paying any penalties over previous discretions, May’s retirement was hardly noted in the baseball world.
But to some, what he said was earth-shattering.
May, 34, played for the Minnesota Twins and New York Mets before finishing with one final season in Oakland. He had 21 saves for the abysmal 112-loss 2023 A’s team and spent a month on the injured list battling recurring anxiety issues. In a nine-year career, May was an unremarkable 36-28 with a 4.24 ERA and 33 saves.
He has now become the hero of the underrepresented and unappreciated sports fan. May let his greedy and heartless former boss have it.
Not since 1966, when attorney Marvin Miller was instrumental conceiving the Major League Baseball Players Association, a representative union that led to player base salaries, contract arbitration, pension funds and extended health benefits; when Curt Flood began his challenge of the free agent clause in 1969 or when owner lockouts/players strikes in 1972, 1981, 1994 and 2021 has such a contentious position been taken by an employee against an owner.
Announcing his retirement over the social media forum Twitch, May thanked the organization and fans before telling A’s owner John Fisher, the beneficiary of his parents’ fortune, what he thought of his former boss. Fisher’s parents, Donald and Doris, built the San Francisco-based retailer Gap, and its subsidiaries Old Navy and Banana Republic, into a $15 billion company.
Son John took a portion of his inherited wealth and invested in a sport that he doesn’t like or care about. Fisher bought the A’s in 2005 for $180 million.
Today, the A’s are valued at $1.2 billion despite playing in a dilapidated, publicly-owned stadium that opened in 1966.
“And I just want you to know,” May began, “now that it’s official, to the A’s organization and every single person who’s a part of it, I love all of you. Every single one of you, except for one guy. We all know who that guy is.”
May lamented on the video not being able to wear a “SELL” T-shirt made popular by Oakland fans when they staged a reverse boycott in June at a Tuesday home game against Tampa Bay, filling the stadium and invoking a “SELL THE TEAM” chant that became popular at the A’s remaining home and road games. Opposing fans, seeing how Oakland is getting fleeced by a billionaire, would join in.
“Sell the team, dude. Sell it, man. Let someone who actually takes pride in the things they own, own it. There’s actually people who give a s*** about the game. Let them do it. Take Mommy and Daddy’s money somewhere else, dork.” Fisher has multiple offers for the A’s from groups promising to keep the club in Oakland, but refuses to sell.
“And also, if you’re gonna’ be a greedy f***, own it,” May said. “There’s nothing weaker than being afraid of cameras. So that’s one thing I really struggled with this year, not just eviscerating that guy. Know what you’re going to do, bro. You’re a billionaire. They exist. You guys have all this power. You shouldn’t have any because you haven’t earned any of it.
“But anyway, whatever. It is what it is. Reality is you got handed everything you have and now you’re too soft to sit and stand in front of or take any responsibility for anything you’re doing.”
Fisher has never been available to the media or fans and does not live in the East Bay Area.
His marketing team built an affective campaign that the A’s were “Rooted in Oakland,” all while Fisher intended to find greener pastures in the desert in Las Vegas. And the other billionaire owners, represented by a subservient commissioner, were in on the con.
Oakland is a proud city that has not aged well over time. They have already lost the Raiders to Las Vegas and the Warriors to a shiny new center across San Francisco Bay. But A’s fans, who have supported the franchise for 55 years, are some of the best in baseball. In 1972, it was Oakland, not San Francisco, who brought the Bay Area their first ever sports World Championship.
Under the Walter Haas family ownership — a model for sports management — the A’s drew more than 2,000,000 fans to the Oakland Coliseum for six consecutive years, including 2.9 million in 1990. Only since Fisher gutted the franchise by trading or not resigning star players like Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Sean Murphy and many others — and then raised ticket prices — has attendance hit rock bottom.
With the City of Oakland facing a homeless crisis, rising crime, an understaffed police department and decaying infrastructure, there is not enough money in the city coffers to build a billionaire a palatial ballpark for his financial benefit.
“Yeah, whatever. Oakland is Oakland,” May said. “But you’re putting hundreds, if not thousands of people out of work that have worked somewhere for decades, and you haven’t acknowledged that at all?” Workers and fans in Houston, Seattle, Baltimore, Montreal and San Diego can identify when self-consumed owners uproot franchises, like when the Oilers moved to Nashville, the Supersonics to Oklahoma City, the Colts to Indianapolis, the Expos to Washington D.C and the Chargers to LA.
Oakland and DFW were the beneficiaries of relocated franchises when the A’s moved from Kansas City in 1968 and the Washington Senators became the Rangers in 1972. But baseball franchises were not worth the average $2.2 billion per club that they are today.
May finished off with a plea to Fisher. “Just be better. That’s all we’re asking. Just be a human being.”
May said what Oakland A’s fans specifically and many sports fans everywhere have wanted to say but haven’t had a megaphone. He told the truth that many owners, like Fisher, simply don’t care about the people that make them richer. Just be a human being.