These days, it seems Athletics fans are spotted donning green T-shirts that read “sell” just as often as they wear the franchise’s iconic Kelly green jerseys.
Those T-shirts, produced and distributed by A’s fans, are worn in protest of owner John Fisher potentially relocating the team to Las Vegas. They are often served up with a side of “sell the team” chants at baseball games, heard loudly at the Coliseum but also across the Bay Bridge at Oracle Park and even at the 2023 MLB All-Star Game in Seattle.
Fisher has seen the T-shirts and heard the chants. In an exclusive interview Wednesday, NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai asked him if it’s hurtful to see those T-shirts and hear those chants.
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“Of course,” Fisher said. “It shows that the fans are passionate about wanting to keep the team and that they're upset with me for taking away that dream. And in that sense, I take responsibility and I feel bad about it.
“There's a part of me that actually looks and says that Oakland fans are great fans and there is incredible passion in our fan base. And, seeing that passion -- even though that passion happens to be directed against me -- has a sort of an ironic twist to it where I can kind of appreciate the passion, even though it's even though at times it's hurtful.”
A’s fans sent a message to ownership on June 13 by packing the Coliseum for a matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays in an organized “reverse boycott.” Over 27,000 fans attended that game – a big jump from the team’s average attendance of 10,552 fans per game -- and donned the “sell” T-shirts while chanting that same phrase.
“My message to his fans is, hey, we did an awful lot of great things for this team,” Fisher told Mathai. “Over the last 20 years or 18 years we've been involved with the team, the A's made it to the playoffs six years. We've had some great players along the way. We made changes at the Coliseum. We did an awful lot to really reach out and be a good steward of the franchise for the fans.
“And, you know, I'm sorry that it hasn't worked out.”
The A’s have the worst record in baseball this season at 36-91. Fans watched over the last few years as the front office parted ways with All-Star talents like Marcus Semien, Sean Murphy, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. Tony Kemp is the only player who remains on the roster from Oakland’s 2020 playoff team.
As the ownership group works toward possibly relocating to Las Vegas, the loyal fan base in Oakland is making sure its voice is heard. And seen -- in the form of green “sell” shirts.
“It's a difficult proposition to move a team, especially from an area where you grew up,” Fisher told Mathai. “But at the end of the day, I felt that Las Vegas offered the team and the A's the best chance for success, the best chance to build a new stadium and to be able to kind of give Oakland or give Athletics fans wherever they may be, you know, the opportunity to see great players and know they would be able to stay with the team over the long term.”