Fans talk to MLB owners, John Fisher


OAKLAND — Leaders of an Oakland A’s fan group were back in the Bay Area on Wednesday after a whirlwind trip to Texas that resulted in a chance meeting with team owner John Fisher and left the baseball world abuzz.

Multiple A’s fan groups spent the summer calling attention to the plight of their team, which Fisher intends to move to Las Vegas. A vote on the proposal is expected Thursday at a meeting of Major League Baseball owners in Arlington, Texas.

Jorge Leon, Jared Isham and Gabriel Cullen, leaders of a fan group called the Oakland 68s, decided to go the extra 1,700 miles. They crashed the scene, booking a hotel room at the site of the meetings to avoid being chased off by security.

And it was there, in the hotel bar, that they encountered Fisher, the reclusive A’s owner, on Tuesday night.

Interestingly, it was Greg Johnson, the Giants’ chairman of the board of directors, who the 68s credit with helping set up their unexpected confab with Fisher.

“He first went over and warned him about us,” Cullen said. “The first thing we see Greg go over and kind of like stop him. And then we see Fisher turn his head around this big pillar, look at us and then pull back. Then he kind of walked away, so we were like, ‘Ok, he’s probably not going to come over.’

“Then he came back, shook our hands and talked to us for 10-15 minutes.”

During that 15-minute conversation, Fisher told the group he’d been trying for 18 years to get a new ballpark for the A’s in the Bay Area. And even if the team and Oakland had a deal, he said, a new ballpark wouldn’t be completed until 2031.

Fisher,  who bought the team in 2005, thanked the 68s for their passion. He also told them: “It’s been a lot worse for me than you.”

The exchange, first reported by USA Today and confirmed Wednesday morning by Leon, Isham and Cullen, became another viral moment in the A’s saga on the level of this summer’s Reverse Boycott and “Sell The Team” chants.

Efforts to reach Fisher for comment were unsuccessful, as they have been for the entirety of his 18 years of ownership.

The group had a second encounter with Fisher on Tuesday night, when they saw him having dinner at the hotel restaurant.

“I yelled out, ‘Do the right thing!’ I was telling him the whole night, do the right thing,” said Leon, the president of the 68s.

Fisher didn’t respond directly to Leon, but according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Fisher told someone in his dinner party: “I am doing the right thing.”

The 68s learned of Fisher’s comment later in the night. They said they appreciated meeting with Fisher, but were not surprised by his stance.

“I feel like he lives in his own little world, and so he thinks that he’s coming off as genuine. But he’s not. He’s tone deaf,” Leon said.

The trio gained social media traction in the morning when a plane they chartered buzzed the site of the meetings with a banner that read: “A’s belong in Oakland – #VoteNo.”

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