Ron Bergman, ‘Best’ of the Oakland A’s Beat Writers, ‘Told It Like It Was’

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1973 A's honored

Bergman’s ‘Mustache Gang’ 1973 Oakland A’s honored in recent reunion at the Oakland Coliseum.



The thing that stood out for me, reading all the tributes to former Oakland A’s beat writer Ron Bergman, who passed last week, was his honesty. And, isn’t that what newspaper reporting is supposed to be about?  Unlike in this politically correct world of today – especially in San Francisco – Bergman wasn’t afraid to ‘ruffle feathers’ or elephant snouts, as it were. Yet, Bergman remained a beloved figure in the A’s clubhouse and was even close friends with some of the players; he was a championship bridge partner to A’s pitcher Ken Holtzman. 


An example of that brutal honesty, was Bergman’s 2005 comment about steroids and the Hall of Fame. He is one of few local sportswriters to go against the party line, when discussing Barry Bonds possible induction into the Baseball Hall . Unlike most, who say Bonds should get in because he was All Star caliber ‘before steroids’ (as if they knew exactly when that was ), Bergman, even then, commented,

“I will not vote for McGwire or Bonds in the first year of
their eligibility in order to make a statement of sorts. After
that, it depends on what becomes of the allegations against them.”


“Bergy told it like it was,” A’s Hall of Fame reliever Rollie Fingers said. “He was always fair, he did a great job — and if we ever needed a fourth for bridge, he was there. He always had great copy, because there was plenty to write about with those teams.”


Said Sal Bando, the third baseman and captain of the A’s three World Series-winning teams (1972-74), said that Mr. Bergman was well-liked by everyone in the clubhouse,

“We didn’t always agree with him, but we respected him,” Bando said. “Bergy fit right in — we considered him like a part of the team, like a teammate. He’ll be missed.”


Too bad we don’t have more Bergmans today instead of the new breed of sportwriter – and even the old breed that cops to the times, getting sucked into the steroid era despite knowing baseball today is not the same as it was – as even fans see now as  shown by dwindling TV ratings and attendance (outside of San Francisco).


From Lance Williams, who broke the whole Barry Bonds story in the book he cowrote with Mark Fenaru-Wada, said this about Bergman,

RIP Ron “Mustache Gang” Bergman, consummate baseball writer – smart, fearless & very funny – covered the 1970s A’s


For more on Ron Bergman, see Susan Slusser’s SFGate  story