Can JT. Ramsay singlehandedly bring the Oakland A's back to Philadelphia?
The Phillies' 2011 schedule has just been released. And for the first time in almost a decade, the Oakland Athletics will return to Philadelphia in late June for a three-game interleague showdown against the Phillies. After Sunday's game on the 26th, the A's will then fly to Florida to play the Marlins.
But if JT. Ramsay had his way, they would never get on that plane.
This July on a whim, Ramsay launched Bring Your A's Game, a campaign to bring the A's back to Philadelphia, where they were known as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1954.
Ramsay has already reached out to the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society for an event for next years much anticipated matchup, and his idea has struck a chord with those who have longed for any possible chance that one day their beloved A's could return to the City of Brotherly Love.
"I've been reaching out to friends, family and baseball fans all over the place," says Ramsay. "The media has been very receptive to it. It's a fun idea! Why not, right? There are currently 944 Facebook fans and that number is growing daily. I think the response has been phenomenal and I'm excited to see how far we can take it. The A's organization knows about it and soon Bay Area residents will, too!"
With the exception of spending a year abroad as an exchange student and roughly three years in New York for grad school, Ramsay has spent his entire life in the Philadelphia area. The 2000 Saint Joseph's University graduate spent his youth following the Phillies' major and minor league teams.
"I used to go to lots of Reading Phillies games growing up. It was a closer and cheaper alternative to watching the woeful Phils," recalls Ramsay. "I got a Gary Redus autograph once! I have lots of fond memories of that stadium before the pool and all the fancy amenities."
Oddly enough, the first major league game Ramsay ever attended was not at Veterans Stadium to see the Phillies. It was an Oakland A's game at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum.
"That was my first professional game," Ramsay remembers fondly. "I saw Mark McGwire hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the tenth. It was pretty amazing and has stuck with me all these years. That was 1989. Man, that memory makes me feel old. McGwire might not have been juicing yet!"
Despite the irony, Ramsay insists that this was not the reason he started his campaign.
"The real motivation behind this is that I have a romance for Philadelphia, and baseball is a big part of that. When I think about Philadelphia's heyday, before everyone fled for the 'burbs, it had two baseball teams, situated just a few blocks apart on Lehigh Avenue."
" I love thinking about what it must have been like to have had that level of excitement around baseball. It's something I'd love to see this town recapture, especially now that people have renewed their love affair with the sport. Since the A's are moving again anyway, I figured why not get Philadelphia back in the mix?"
Since Philadelphia is one of the only teams in a major market that does not have two baseball teams, it was interesting to get Ramsay's take on what effect the A's' return to Philadelphia would have in the wake of the Phillies' recent success.
"I get this question a lot," Ramsay admits. "People seem to love competition, until it butts up against their favorite monopoly, which is professional sports. I think the A's would have to work hard to win fans, although a new ballpark would go a long way to change that. I think that introducing a team like the A's would give the Phillies a reason to put a good product on the field. No more excuses about how it's a small market. It isn't! That's a myth Ed Wade put out there to keep expectations low -- and revenues higher than we probably ever knew. People would still be Phillies fans. This isn't about either/or for me. This is about more. More baseball, more excitement, more fun."
So here comes the million dollar question: Does Ramsay think that what he is doing can in fact help bring the A's back to Philly?
"Good question. I figure you don't know until you try. How many things would actually happen if we asked ourselves how realistic they were. Would anyone have bothered with sending a man to the moon? This isn't nearly as drastic an undertaking as that. All that's required is interest and some daring investors who want to get into one of the best businesses in professional sports. I figure if the Bay can have two teams and the D.C./Baltimore area can have two teams, Philadelphia can probably support them as well."
"What can I say? I live by the mantra, "Why can't us?"
You can join Bring Your A's Game at http://www.facebook.com/bringyourasgame
There's also a Bring Your A's Game Picnic Sunday at Memorial Hall Field in Philadelphia.
Also check out http://jtramsay.com/
Contact Joe Vallee at email@example.com