1997 Oakland Athletics season

1997 Oakland Athletics
Major League affiliations
Record 65–97 (.401)
Other information
Owner(s) Stephen Schott
Kenneth Hofmann
General manager(s) Sandy Alderson
Manager(s) Art Howe
Local television KRON-TV
Sports Channel Pacific
(Ray Fosse, Greg Papa, Ken Wilson)
Local radio KFRC
(Bill King, Ken Korach, Ray Fosse)
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The Oakland Athletics' 1997 season was the team's 30th in Oakland, California. It was also the 97th season in franchise history. The team finished fourth in the American League West with a record of 65-97.

The Athletics, coming off a surprising (if still mediocre) 78-84 campaign, hoped to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1992. With this in mind, the team traded for slugger Jose Canseco. Canseco, who had played for the Athletics from 1985 to 1992, was reunited with fellow superstar (and fellow "Bash Brother") Mark McGwire. In addition to McGwire and Canseco, Oakland's impressive collection of power hitters included Jason Giambi, Gerónimo Berroa, and Matt Stairs.

Little was done, however, to shore up the Athletics' abysmal 1996 pitching staff. Ariel Prieto, owner of a 4.41 career ERA (Earned Run Average), was named the Opening Day starter; a succession of poorly regarded players filled out the rest of the starting rotation and bullpen. While optimism remained high for the team's offense, great concern remained for its pitching staff.

In the end, Oakland's offense and pitching both fared terribly. For the second consecutive year, no Athletics pitcher won ten or more games; even worse, no starter won more than six. None of the team's top four starters (Ariel Prieto, Steve Karsay, Mike Oquist, and Dave Telgheder) finished the season with an ERA of less than 5.00; the Athletics, as a team, finished with an earned run average of 5.48 (easily the MLB's worst). All told, the A's allowed a season total of 946 runs. This remains the worst such figure in Oakland history.

More puzzling was the fate of the offense. Oakland, as expected, remained one of the league's best power-hitting teams. The Athletics' sluggers hit a total of 197 home runs (third-most in the American League). Oakland's home runs failed to generate much offense, however, as a low team batting average negated most of the team's other advantages. Oakland scored a total of 764 runs in 1997 (the 11th highest total in the American League).

These awful performances quickly removed the A's from contention. On May 31, they were already nine games out of first place; their position steadily worsened throughout the summer. In light of this, General Manager Sandy Alderson traded Mark McGwire (who, at the time, was on pace to break Roger Maris' single-season home run record) to the St. Louis Cardinals for T.J. Matthews, Blake Stein, and Eric Ludwick. McGwire would finish the season with 58 home runs (four shy of breaking the record). The trade was a disaster on the Athletics' end, as none of the three players received in the trade remained on the team by 2000. The A's ultimately finished twenty-five games behind the first-place Seattle Mariners. Their 65-97 finish (the club's worst since 1979) led to the removal of Sandy Alderson as General Manager on October 17; he was replaced by Billy Beane. Manager Art Howe, however, was retained for the 1998 season.

The 1997 season would ultimately prove to be the Athletics' nadir. The continued rise of Jason Giambi, the debuts of Ben Grieve and Miguel Tejada, the acquisition of Tim Hudson in the 1997 MLB draft, and the ascension of Billy Beane to the position of general manager paved the way for a lengthy period of success from 1999 onwards.


  • October 2, 1996: Dane Johnson was selected off waivers by the Oakland Athletics from the Toronto Blue Jays.[1]
  • November 19, 1996: Mike Oquist was signed as a Free Agent with the Oakland Athletics.[2]
  • December 9, 1996: Frank Catalanotto was drafted by the Oakland Athletics from the Detroit Tigers in the 1996 rule 5 draft.[3]
  • January 27, 1997: John Wasdin was traded by the Oakland Athletics to the Boston Red Sox for Jose Canseco.
  • March 21, 1997: Frank Catalanotto was returned (earlier draft pick) by the Oakland Athletics to the Detroit Tigers.[3]
  • March 27, 1997: Scott Service was selected off waivers by the Oakland Athletics from the Cincinnati Reds.[4]

Regular season


  • April 4, 1997: Scott Service was selected off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds from the Oakland Athletics.[4]
  • April 8, 1997: Brent Mayne was signed as a Free Agent with the Oakland Athletics.[6]
  • June 3, 1997: Tim Hudson was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 6th round of the 1997 amateur draft. Player signed June 13, 1997.[7]
  • July 31, 1997 – Mark McGwire was traded by Oakland Athletics to the St. Louis Cardinals for Eric Ludwick, T. J. Mathews, and Blake Stein. McGwire had 34 home runs and 81 RBIs with Oakland at the time of the trade, which reunited him with former Athletics manager Tony La Russa.
  • August 8, 1997: Tilson Brito was selected off waivers by the Oakland Athletics from the Toronto Blue Jays.[8]

Season standings

AL West W L Pct. GB Home Road
Seattle Mariners 9072 0.556 45–36 45–36
Anaheim Angels 8478 0.519 6 46–36 38–42
Texas Rangers 7785 0.475 13 39–42 38–43
Oakland Athletics 6597 0.401 25 35–46 30–51

Record vs. opponents

1997 American League Records

Anaheim 4–76–56–57–45–66–57–44–74–711–16–68–46–54–12
Baltimore 7–45–75–66–56–67–45–610–18–48–37–410–16–68–7
Boston 5–67–53–86–55–73–88–38–34–87–47–43–86–66–9
Chicago 5–66–58–35–74–711–14–76–62–98–35–63–85–68–7
Cleveland 4–75–65–67–56–58–38–48–45–67–43–85–66–59–6
Detroit 6–56–67–57–45–66–54–74–72–107–44–77–46–68–7
Kansas City 5–64–78–31–113–85–66–67–53–83–85–66–55–66–9
Milwaukee 4–76–53–87–44–87–46–65–74–75–65–67–47–48–7
Minnesota 7–41–103–86–64–87–45–77–53–87–45–63–83–87–8
New York 7–44–88–49–26–510–28–37–48–36–54–77–47–55–10
Oakland 1–113–84–73–84–74–78–36–54–75–65–75–76–57–9
Seattle 6–64–74–76–58–37–46–56–56–57–47–58–48–37–9
Texas 4–81–108–38–36–54–75–64–78–34–77–54–84–710–6
Toronto 5–66–66–66–55–66–66–54–78–35–75–63–87–44–11


1997 Oakland Athletics
Pitchers Catchers





Player stats

= Indicates team leader


Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; R = Runs scored; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in; SB = Stolen Bases

Pos Player G AB R H Avg. HR RBI SB
CBrent Mayne852562974.2896221
1BMark McGwire10536648104.28434811
2BScott Spiezio14753858131.24314659
3BScott Brosius1294795997.20311419
SSRafael Bournigal792222962.2791202
LFJason Giambi14251966152.29320810
CFDamon Mashore922795569.2473185
RFMatt Stairs13335262105.29827733
DHJose Canseco1083885691.23523748


Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; R = Runs scored; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in; SB = Stolen Bases

Player G AB R H Avg. HR RBI SB
Tony Batista681882238.2024182
Mark Bellhorn682243351.2286197
Gerónimo Berroa732614081.31016423
Tilson Brito1746813.283260
Ben Grieve24931229.3123240
Patrick Lennon561161434.2931140
Brian Lesher461311730.2294164
Dave Magadan1282713882.3034301
Jason McDonald782364762.26341413
Izzy Molina48111622.198370
Mike Oquist5401.250000
Brad Rigby2300.000000
Scott Sheldon132426.250120
Miguel Tejada26991020.2022102
George Williams762013058.2893220
Ernie Young711752239.2235151


Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; BB = Bases on Balls; SO = Strikeouts

Steve Karsay24132.23125.774792
Ariel Prieto27125685.047090
Steve Wojciechowski210.1027.8415

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Buddy Groom78732235.1545
Billy Taylor727334233.8266

Awards and records

  • Mark McGwire, Major League record, 1st player to lead the Major Leagues in Home Runs but not lead the American League or National League in home runs[10]

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Edmonton Trappers Pacific Coast League Gary Jones
AA Huntsville Stars Southern League Mike Quade
A Modesto A's California League Jeffrey Leonard
A Visalia Oaks California League Tony DeFrancesco
A-Short Season Southern Oregon Timberjacks Northwest League John Kuehl
Rookie AZL Athletics Arizona League Juan Navarrette



  1. "Dane Johnson Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  2. "Mike Oquist Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  3. 1 2 "Frank Catalanotto Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  4. 1 2 "Scott Service Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  5. Sports Illustrated, Oct 27, 2008, p.24, Vol. 109, No. 16
  6. "Brent Mayne Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  7. "Tim Hudson Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  8. "Tilson Brito Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  9. "1997 Oakland Athletics Statistics - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  10. Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p.372, David Nemec and Scott latow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0


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