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A's toasted by 5,000 fans

By MARTHA BRIDEGAM

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The champion Oakland Athletics, arriving at their victory celebration by ferry boat, were saluted by some 5,000 fans Monday and hailed by their manager as one of the greatest teams in baseball history.

'This is a great day for Oakland,' Mayor Lionel Wilson told a rally at Jack London Square in honor of the Athletics' four-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants.

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There was no traditional parade through downtown to City Hall, which was badly damaged in the Oct. 17 earthquake and may never reopen. And thanks to parking problems worsened by the broken Bay Bridge, many fans arrived by public transportation. The team's ferry boat was one of many that have carried commuters between Oakland and San Francisco via Jack London Square.

Paul Wolff, president of the A's booster club, said the team 'didn't think a parade would be appropriate.' He added a parade would have attracted as many as 100,000 fans.

The balloon-filled crowd observed a moment of silence for the quake victims, at least 32 of them dying in the collapsed Cypress freeway a few blocks from the rally.

Wolff said he hoped the rally would raise as much as $10,000 in earthquake relief contributions.

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The first Bay Area World Series ended Saturday after an interruption of 10 days. Oakland Manager Tony LaRussa said no 'team was ever asked to do more' to become champions. He also said his club can stand beside baseball's finest teams.

'They aren't any better than the '89 A's,' he said.

A banner across the podium said, 'Oakland's World Serious. Go, A's.' One side of a sign read, 'Eat it, SF.' On the other side: 'SF-NLWIMPS.'

Slugger Mark McGuire told the fans: 'You're looking at the best team in the world. ... We dominated.'

'No. 1, huh?' Rickey Henderson, the A's fearsome leadoff hitter, said. 'This is probably one of the greatest moments in my career. I'm so happy that the Oakland A's gave me a chance to come back to Oakland.'

Pitcher Dave Stewart, named Most Valuable Player of the Series winning Games 1 and 3, noted that four years ago he was released from baseball but given another chance in Oakland.

'I'd like to say from the bottom of my heart, to me Oakland and the A's have a lot in common and that is that the cream always rises to the top,' he said.

Added A's relief ace Dennis Eckersley of nearby Fremont: 'I've played for the best team I've ever played for.'

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Carl Peters, 59, Oakland, was among those at the rally. He attended Game 3 because his daughter gave him her ticket. She was too afraid to return to Candlestick Park after the quake.

'I became a Giants' fan in '33 and switched to Oakland when the A's moved here,' Peters said.

A's broadcaster Ray Fosse recalled the feud between the Oakland and San Francisco mayors before the Series.

'When two mayors got together to make a wager, one mayor said Oakland didn't have anything,' he said. 'I think you see it right here.'

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