OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Bob Melvin showed up at the Oakland Coliseum before 11 a.m. Friday ahead of a night game and began his old routine of running the Coliseum bleachers — taking 21 minutes to complete the lower bowl stairs just as he has done for years.
Yet this time, the veteran manager now leading the San Diego Padres found himself reflecting on all of the retired numbers in the upper deck and how much those players have meant to an Athletics franchise that's suddenly in a state of flux. The team is planning to move to Las Vegas, which would leave Oakland without a professional team.
“I think the fans and everybody else should enjoy it while it's here and hopefully it's here a little bit longer than everybody thinks,” Melvin said, sitting in the visiting dugout during his first time back at the Coliseum in nearly two years.
The Golden State Warriors moved across the bay to San Francisco in 2019, then the Oakland Raiders relocated to Las Vegas the next year.
Melvin caught up with plenty of familiar faces and knew that would be the case all weekend.
He visited with Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on the field Friday. Melvin had breakfast with A's general manager David Forst earlier in the day after dining with longtime Oakland director of travel Mickey Morabito on Thursday night, and the manager connected with a few of his former coaches as well.
“We saw him last year in the uniform but to be across the dugout from him and what he's meant to my career and the impact he had on me when I was here as a bench coach, quality control and third base coach under him, the knowledge he passed along, I don't think I'd be sitting here today without that," second-year A's manager Mark Kotsay said. “I can't thank him enough for it but obviously I want to beat him tonight.”
The Padres hired Melvin away from the A's in late October 2021 after he became the winningest manager in Oakland team history but the A’s missed the playoffs following three straight postseason berths. He was 853-764 with Oakland.
“I loved it,” Melvin said of working in Oakland. “Just coming back into a place that I’ve been as early as 12 years old, so this property has been very important in my lifetime.”
With all the uncertainty surrounding the A's, Melvin noted that Oakland's brass “were good enough to let me go somewhere else and try something different.”
Melvin has ditched his superstitious ways this season since he found his routines such as eating candy in certain planned innings just wasn’t working during San Diego's struggles.
He didn't know where he was going coming into the ballpark Friday, noting, “I kind of had to find my way, it's been a while since I came in that side but figured it out.”
It meant a lot to him to see head groundskeeper Clay Wood and his beloved pooch Reba, “who's a very good friend of mine and she remembered me, came running, so that was a good feeling right away,” Melvin said.
“I'll get around to everybody,” Melvin said. “I'll make the rounds as we go along in these three days but I've been looking forward to coming back here. I love this place.”
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