The Oakland Athletics' 1991 season was the team's 24th in Oakland, California. It was also the 91st season in franchise history. The team finished fourth in the American League West with a record of 84-78.
The 1991 season saw the Athletics' American League dominance come to an abrupt end. Between 1988 and 1990, the team had won three American League pennants and one World Series title; in the process, they won a combined 306 regular season games. In light of these accomplishments, the Athletics were initially favored to win yet another American League pennant.
A fourth consecutive World Series appearance, however, was not to be. In 1991, poor pitching (from both the starting rotation and the bullpen) served to take the Athletics out of contention. From 1988 to 1990, the Athletics had posted a team earned run average (ERA) of roughly 3.24 (easily the American League's best over that span); in 1991, however, they posted a sickly team ERA of 4.57 (the American League's second-worst). Of particular note were the struggles of ace Dave Stewart, whose 1991 ERA (5.18) was more than twice his 1990 ERA (2.56). 1990 Cy Young Award winner Bob Welch fared almost as poorly; his earned run average swelled from 2.95 (1990) to 4.58 (1991). In 1990, he had won a league-high 27 games; in 1991, he won a mere 12.
The Athletics' 1991 campaign, as such, is remembered mainly for the record-breaking exploits of Rickey Henderson. On May 1, he stole his 938th career base; in doing so, he succeeded Lou Brock as MLB's career stolen base leader. Henderson would end the 1991 season with 994 stolen bases.
Oakland would return to contention in 1992 with a record of 96-66. The 1991 season still, however, marked the end of the Athletics as a dynastic power. The 1992 team failed to dominate the league in the manner that the 1988–90 teams had; following that team's six-game ALCS defeat to the Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland wouldn't reach the postseason until 2000.
|1991 Oakland Athletics|
|Major League affiliations|
|Owner(s)||Walter A. Haas, Jr.|
|General manager(s)||Sandy Alderson|
|Manager(s)||Tony La Russa|
(Monte Moore, Ray Fosse)
Sports Channel Bay Area
(Bill Rigney, Greg Papa, Reggie Jackson)
(Bill King, Lon Simmons, Ray Fosse, Sylvester Jackson)
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On May 15, 1991, President George H.W. Bush attended a baseball game in Baltimore with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The two saw the Oakland Athletics play the Baltimore Orioles for two innings.
|Chicago White Sox||87||75||0.537||8||46–35||41–40|
|Kansas City Royals||82||80||0.506||13||40–41||42–39|
1991 American League Records
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|1991 Oakland Athletics|
On May 1, 1991, Henderson broke one of baseball's most famous records when he stole the 939th base of his career, one more than Lou Brock. However, Henderson's achievement was somewhat overshadowed because Nolan Ryan, at age 44, set a record that same night by throwing a no-hitter against Toronto, the seventh of his career. Two years earlier, Ryan had previously achieved glory at Henderson's expense by making him his 5,000th strikeout victim. Henderson took an odd delight in the occurrence, saying, "If you haven't been struck out by Nolan Ryan, you're nobody."
Rickey's speech (at right) after breaking Lou Brock's all-time steals record sounds like the standard victory/award speech. Henderson thanked God and his mother, as well as the people that helped him in baseball. All that is remembered, however, is the "I am the greatest of all time" quote, which has been taken by many to support the notion that Henderson is selfish and arrogant. Years later, Henderson revealed that he had gone over his planned remarks ahead of time with Brock, and the Cardinals Hall of Famer "had no problem with it. In fact, he helped me write what I was going to say that day."
|Catfish Hunter's number 27 was retired by the Oakland Athletics in 1991 .|
Jim "Catfish" Hunter's number 27 was retired by the Athletics in a pre-game ceremony on June 9, the first in the franchise's 90 years. Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1987, the right-handed starter won 161 regular season games in ten seasons for the A's, the first three in Kansas City and the last seven in Oakland. He won 20 or more games in each of his last four seasons in Oakland and was 4–0 with one save in seven World Series appearances. Hunter won the Cy Young Award in his final season in Oakland in 1974, as the A's won their third consecutive World Series. His record in the 1974 regular season was 25–12 with 23 complete games; he led the league in wins and earned run average (2.49). Six years earlier in the first season in Oakland in 1968, Hunter threw the first perfect game in franchise history on May 8 at home (and also had three hits and three runs batted in).
|= Indicates team leader|
Note: G = Games played; AB = At Bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting Average; HR = Home Runs; RBI = Runs Batted In
|AAA||Tacoma Tigers||Pacific Coast League||Jeff Newman|
|AA||Huntsville Stars||Southern League||Casey Parsons|
|A||Modesto A's||California League||Ted Kubiak|
|A||Madison Muskies||Midwest League||Gary Jones|
|A-Short Season||Southern Oregon A's||Northwest League||Grady Fuson|
|Rookie||AZL Athletics||Arizona League||Dick Scott|
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: AZL Athletics
1991 MLB season by team
|AL West Division|
|AL Wild Card (3)|