In understated but still jubilant fashion, the Oakland A's - the reigning lords of baseball - basked in the acclaim of 6,000 fans in a dockside rally Monday.
The celebration was deliberately pegged to a lower key than past World Series celebrations have been - in somber tribute to victims of the Oct. 17 earthquake. Still, for several hours under brilliant sunshine, pennant-waving fans whooped it up and gave San Francisco the what-for."You can tell Art Agnos that we have something he'd want: a championship baseball team, something he'll never have," exulted Mike Toschak, referring to the San Francisco mayor's pre-World Series quip that Oakland had nothing he'd want to win in a wager with his counterpart across the Bay, Lionel Wilson.
"Every one of the players could be in the Hall of Fame," said Toschak, a piano tuner taking the day off. "This is a team that could be a legend."
Indeed, this was a day for superlatives - from fans who toasted the players as the best team to ever run onto a baseball diamond, and from the athletes who applauded their fans as the greatest boosters in the nation.
Players arrived via a ferryboat from Alameda, stepping ashore 45 minutes behind schedule to the accompaniment of Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" blaring from loudspeakers. Attired in casual street clothes, the athletes and their families mounted a platform erected for the occasion alongside the water.
Wilson, team owner Walter Haas and manager Tony La Russa paid tribute to the team that despite a host of early-season injuries never floundered, crushing the San Francisco Giants in four straight games to win the World Series Saturday evening.
La Russa noted that some pundits have compared the A's to the '75 Reds or the '27 Yankees but, he said, "They aren't any better than the '89 A's."
A dozen team members also took the podium to gush gratitude.
"Oakland and the A's have a lot in common ... the cream always rises to the top," said pitcher Dave Stewart, voted the Series' Most Valuable Player.
Amid a sea of green and yellow A's memorabilia, nobody was more resplendent than Rhoda Krieger, 60, outfitted in A's sweatshirt, jacket, cap, green pants, green shoes with tiny yellow bows, and even yellow button earrings. She carried a teddy bear, nicknamed Rickey after star player Rickey Henderson, in matching costume.
Though she's been an A's buff for 28 years, the London-born Krieger is still somewhat baffled by the complexities of the game.
"I don't know how they score," she said. "But I know they have to hit it out of the stadium to get a home run. I'm not a quick learner when it comes to sports."
Some fans noted with disappointment the absence of A's Tony Phillips and Jose Canseco. On his telephone hotline Monday afternoon, Canseco offered no explanation for his absence, giving fans only a rambling recap of Saturday's victory.
Despite the throng, some vendors hawking T-shirts, hats and pennants were disappointed.
"If we'd have been in San Francisco, we'd have sold everything," said Vinny Azzarone, pitching $10 shirts. "There's no money in this market. These guys are supposed to be the world champions but people in Oakland don't support them. San Francisco is more eyed to sports. The fans here are more casual."