• Rich Honiball

Today in Brand History: The Oakland A's



In 1980, Charles O. Finley sold the Oakland A's MLB franchise for $12.7m to Walter Haas Jr., who at the time was the chairperson (and former owner) of Levi Strauss.


What is the back story?


Levi Strauss founded the first company to manufacture denim (maybe you've heard of it?) Upon his death in 1902, the company passed to his nephews, the sons of David Stern. Walter A. Haas, who married the daughter of David's fourth son, Sigmund Stern, became president in 1928 and the company remained under the ownership of the Stern-Haas family until first going public in 1971. During this time, Walter's son, Walter Haas Jr took over for his dad as president and CEO from 1958 to 1976, and became chairman in 1970 just before taking Levi Strauss public in 1971, serving until 1981.


In 1980, the owner of the Oakland A's at the time, Charles Finley, wanted to sell the team to industrialist Martin Davis who planned to move the team to Denver. Haas stepped in and purchased the team because he wanted to see it remain in Oakland. Under Haas' ownership, the Athletics won five American League West Division titles (first in 1981 and the last in 1992), advancing to three consecutive World Series between 1988 and 1990, defeating the cross-bay rival San Francisco Giants in 1989 in a sweep. Walter "Wally" Haas Jr died in 1995 and his estate sold the Oakland A's to home builders Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann for $85 million.


Back to Levi's...in 1985, the Haas family recaptured ownership of the company, taking it private once again for the next 34 years until going public again in 2019.


I was going to try and make some sort of connection to blue jeans and #moneyball...but I'll quit while I am ahead. (Ever since I posted about the launch of Encyclopedia Britannica, and they responded with "love, but a correction" because I had the wrong date, I've tried to dig deeper and not only learned more, but tried to check my facts. That said, I still can't say that everything I've written is accurate...so if you find something you don't think is right, let me know. Encyclopedia Britannica was kind enough to!)

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