What was it with the Philadelphia A's?
To this day, I have no idea why as a kid growing up in Kansas City I manifested a mojo for a miserable team like the Philadelphia A's.
Even before the A's moved to Kansas City in 1955, I was an A's fan. Maybe it was because of the club's logo - a white elephant with an blue "A" superimposed - caught my juvenile fancy.
Perhaps it was the simplicity of the uniforms - an "A" on the cap, a larger "A" on the left breast of the jersey, and no other markings. They were the original A-Team, I guess.
Then again, the 1952 A's caught a lot of folks' fancies. Led by a diminutive left-handed pitcher named Bobby Shantz and a slugging left fielder named Gus Zernial, that Philadelphia team finished an astonishing fourth in the eight-team American League.
More than two decades later, while visiting a baseball card show, I spotted a '52 Bowman Gus Zernial card, decided I needed it and bought it.
Over the next few years, I added to my '52 Bowman set of Philadelphia A's until at last I had them all. Eddie Joost, Billy Hitchcock, Carl Scheib, Alex Kellner, Joe Astroth, to name a few : and, of course, Elmer Valo, the only major-league baseball player born in Ribnik, Czechoslovakia.
Every now and then, I'll come across those 12 or 13 Philadelphia A's baseball cards stashed in one of my dresser drawers and wonder why they still fascinate me.
By the way, I also have a pair of Hank Arft baseball cards. Arft never played for the A's, but how could you not like a player whose nickname was "Bow Wow?"
But the A's were my favorites. And I'm not barking.