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About 10 baseball players mill about, waiting to hit on a baseball diamond that ends with a low fence beyond which are some industrial type buildings.

New era of baseball in Oakland — move over A’s, here come the B’s

on April 15, 2024

Before the tractors showed up, Raimondi Park didn’t look like the future home of a professional baseball team. 

Sitting in the shadow of Interstate 880, the long-standing West Oakland field felt forgotten. Almost every patch of grass was overgrown and the infield dirt had long since been blanketed with a thin layer of sod in a lighter shade of green. The pitcher’s mound, not much more than a bump, had become the territory of large Canadian geese that were seemingly unbothered by the intended use of their perch.

Besides the din of hundreds of cars and trucks on their way to more important places, the park was quiet.

On its surface, Raimondi was beleaguered. But a new day is coming. 

Weeks ago, work trucks and heavy equipment rolled into the park, chased away the geese, and began tearing up the turf. By the left field foul pole, laminated signs posted by Oakland’s Planing Bureau inform passersby of imminent improvements to the facilities, spearheaded by a new independent baseball team the Oakland Ballers.

Though the plans are relatively modest, with only 4,000 proposed seats as compared to the Coliseum’s 63,000 seat capacity, the new facility has the Oakland baseball community talking.

At the end of February, the Oakland Athletics removed their famous “Rooted in Oakland” sign from the Coliseum in preparation for their move to Las Vegas in 2025. That same week, the Ballers announced they would invest $1.6 million in Raimondi and play their inaugural Pioneer League season at the West Oakland park.

These moves represent a seismic shift in Oakland’s self-image. When the A’s leave, not only will the town that produced Curt Flood, Rickey Henderson and Jimmy Rollins be a place without a Major League Baseball team, it will be a place without a major league sports team, period.

A patchy green baseball field is in the foreground with squat industrial type buildings in the background.
The Raimondi Park baseball field before the Oakland Ballers started working on it. (Daniel Hennessy)

For many Oaklanders, the reverberations are far-reaching. 

On a Reddit thread titled, “As an A’s fan what is your breaking point?” commenters shared memories and lamented the current state of the team. 

“I’ve been an A’s fan for over 20 years, my wife is an A’s fan, my kids are A’s fans, baseball was my first love. For the first time since I got a job I didnt go to an A’s game last season,” wrote one. 

“My breaking point is them leaving Oakland. In the past I was a season ticket holder, right now it’s hard to be motivated to watch a game on TV. Life changes and I have kids now, but the disrespect of fans from ownership is real and pushing me away,” wrote another.

The loss is particularly painful for the fanbase of such a storied franchise. Since moving to Oakland in 1968, the A’s have won four World Series titles. In the early 1970s, they were without a doubt the most accomplished organization in baseball, winning championships in 1972, 1973 and 1974. In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck during the telecast of game three of the World Series. After a 10-day postponement, the A’s swept the Giants in four games. 

A’s void can’t be filled

Even beyond their wealth of World Series rings, the A’s have long been a salient presence in Oakland. One of the most famous sports photographs ever taken was in front of a packed Coliseum crowd in 1982. Oakland native Rickey Henderson, having broken the single season stolen base record, lifted second base above his head in triumph, the trademark green Athletics flashing across his white jersey in cursive script.

Jorge Leon, founder of a group called the Oakland 68s, bristled at the assertion that Oaklanders could still go watch baseball across the bay in San Francisco.

“That’s not my city. I don’t go to San Francisco every day. I avoid going to San Francisco, if anything,” he said.

For Leon, the B’s are a positive alternative. Though their resources and reach will be much more limited than that of a professional ball club, the B’s won’t have the baggage of the A’s ownership, either. 

“It’s pretty damn easy to fill John Fisher’s shoes,” Leon said of the A’s owner, widely despised by fans.

But Leon knows it will be tough to fill the shoes of previous A’s ownership that invested significantly in the team.

A ripped up baseball field is a mount of grassy dirt, with a squat building beyond the outfield.
Raimondi Park in April. The Oakland Ballers are putting $1.6 million into renovating the baseball field. (Daniel Hennessy)

The A’s organization was an active presence in the community through the years. According to its 2023 community impact report, the Athletics contributed $2.24 million to Oakland organizations. Most of the money supported youth development initiatives and sports leagues.

That money will dry up once the team leaves for Las Vegas. Asked whether the organization would continue to support Oakland organizations, representatives from the A’s said the team will remain active in the communities in which they play. In other words, not Oakland.

This will be a challenging hole for the B’s to fill. 

A shot to move up

Pioneer League revenue is nowhere near that of Major League Baseball. According to the MLB, attendance across the league in 2023 rose to 70.74 million. The Pioneer League reported 968,734 fans in attendance.

On top of that, the quality of baseball will be lower. Tyler Petersen, assistant general manager for the B’s, said most of the players are hoping to get enough exposure to be signed by an affiliated minor league ball club — they are playing in Oakland for a shot to move up.

What the B’s can offer was on display at Laney College on a recent Saturday. Hundreds of local ballplayers, many with families in tow, showed up at open tryouts for a chance to secure a spot on the Ballers. 

About 10 baseball players mill about, waiting to hit on a baseball diamond that ends with a low fence beyond which are some industrial type buildings.

Opening Day
When: First home game, 6:35 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, against Yolo High Wheelers
Where: Raimondi Park, 1800 Wood St., Oakland
Ticket and other information:

Under the watchful eyes of the B’s coaching staff and hand-wringing loved ones, players cycled through drills at varying levels of proficiency. In the end, it was unclear who, if anyone, would make the team. As players streamed by, many donning clean white pants and fresh out-of-the-box cleats, the B’s value came into focus.

The Ballers do not have the resources to replace the A’s. Their worth lies in something not easily quantified by dollars and cents. 

It is a dream for a young ballplayer, hope for Raimondi Park, and a team for baseball fans to cheer for in a neglected sports town. 

With city services lacking, residents clean up Raimondi Park, future home of B’s baseball


  1. […] A new era of baseball in Oakland – move over the A’s, here’s the B’s […]

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