OAKLAND -- Dawn Pieper will show her love for the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night in the spirit of her late husband, Jay, who is the reason she became such a loyal supporter. Lifelong fan Gabriel Hernandez will cheer his heart out in hopes everyone in attendance can make a meaningful, monumental statement that they are far from done fighting to keep their team in the East Bay.
Fed-up fans in Oakland have hatched an unusual plan to protest the A's despised ownership group.
They're buying tickets.
Organizers are calling on A's supporters to stage a "Reverse Boycott" at the Coliseum on Tuesday. They plan to give away T-shirts to the first 7,000 fans to arrive and are hoping to make a statement with the biggest, most spirited crowd of the year when the A's host Tampa Bay. The goal is a sellout for a team with dismal attendance all season that has regularly been topped by most Triple-A franchises.
The bright green T-shirts made by local company Oaklandish read "SELL" — a message for owner John Fisher to give up the team to someone who might keep it here. Nevada lawmakers, meanwhile, are discussing the A's proposed financing plan to build a new ballpark in Las Vegas.
Among those planning to attend: the drummers in the right-field bleachers that used to echo their support for the franchise that's been in the Bay Area since 1968.
Hernandez offered this message to fellow fans: "Be Loud, Be Proud, Bring Sign, Speak Your Mind, Go A's."
"I've been a fan my whole life. Raised in Oakland my whole life, no other sport connected with me like how the A's have and started going diehard mode in 2014," the 24-year-old Hernandez said. "Personally, I'm at a loss for words, as A's fans try again to keep their team in Oakland with plans already in full swing for a new ballpark in Las Vegas. To see not only A's fans but other MLB fans help come together supporting the movement, I'm proud of the fans who participated."
Naomi Arnst, a fan for 51 years, purchased a pair of tickets Monday for $144 each, including service charges, and another $147.50 on parking. The seats in section 110 are close to where she used to sit with corporate tickets. It's all worth the expense to be there Tuesday, and she notes, "With parking it cost as much as an A-list Broadway show."
"But it is time to make a statement," she said.
Pieper, a season ticketholder for five years, said her husband who grew up in Oakland would "be sick to his stomach over this situation."
"I've been an A's fan since the early 2000s. He and (former player) Mark Ellis made me fall in love with the A's. I'm not at all surprised how big the Reverse Boycott has become and how much traction it's getting nationally," she said. "Never, ever underestimate A's fans. We are an incredibly loyal and passionate group. We will never give up and we will fight to the end to keep our team in Oakland."
Fans are hoping to show that support still exists for the A's, if not for Fisher, in a sign that the franchise shouldn't turn its back on Oakland.
"I want to thank and appreciate the fans who organized the incredible reverse boycott for Tuesday, and encourage people to attend the A's game tomorrow," Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said in a message to The Associated Press. "Oakland has the best weather, the best community, and is a fabulous place for baseball."
Hernandez offered his gratitude to everyone who has helped in some way to make Tuesday's event happen, vowing that A's fans will be heard.
"We hope to make a statement to not only ownership but to MLB and the whole world that this isn't our fault, that we are here. Stop blaming us as fans for someone who is basically telling me to stop coming by trading our players, raising prices, taking away season ticket benefits like 50% concessions, 25% (merchandise), $10 parking. We aren't going down without a fight."
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