Two San Francisco Bay Area Jazz Collections and an American League Baseball Team

June 9, 2021
Nathan Coy
Oakland A's Swingers Band

In this guest blog, former Archive of Recorded Sound Project Archivist and current Stanford Libraries Special Collections Associate Archivist Gurudarshan Khalsa writes about two San Francisco Bay Area Jazz collections he worked on at the Archive of Recorded Sound: the Burt Bales Collection and the Dave Radlauer Jazz Collection.

Burt Bales was a jazz solo and band pianist who played with Bob Mielke, Dick Oxtot, the Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band, Bunk Johnson, Turk Murphy, Bob Scobey, and others. The Burt Bales Collection consists of photographs, festival and concert programs, correspondence, audio recordings, and newspaper clippings. Of particular note are Musicians' Union logbooks that Bruce Bales maintained from 1937-1951 that record all the gigs he played. He recorded the name of the club, how much he was paid and sometimes the names of any accompanying musicians.

Oakland A's Swingers Band

The Radlauer collection documents Dick Oxtot, Bob Mielke, Earl Scheelar and other jazz musicians who were active in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California’s traditional jazz scene. One of the bands covered in this collection is the Oakland A’s Swingers Baseball Band. The Oakland A's Swingers was composed of Bob Mielke (trombone), Dick Oxtot (banjo), Bob Helm (soprano saxophone), Bob Neighbors (cornet), John Moore (tuba), and others, such as Earl Scheelar and Bill Napier, who filled in for absent members. The materials in this collection that deal with the A’s include photographs, audio recordings, newspaper clippings, a charter airplane menu from the 1972 World Series, and game schedules. Some of the scenes the photographs cover are the 1968 regular season, the 1972 and 1973 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Mets respectively, and the band playing in the Coliseum parking lot and at other events in the 1980s and 1990s.

1972 World Series Ticket

Starting in 1968 the Oakland A’s Swingers played before, after, and during home games at the Oakland Coliseum. Before and after games the band would perform in the tunnelways of the Coliseum and while the game was going on the band would perform short sets during half-innings.

1974 Oakland A's Fans

In the A's run of World Series appearances from 1972-1974, the Oakland A's Swingers travelled with the team and played in the opponent's stadium. In the photo to the left the band can be seen playing in the lobby of the Americana Hotel lobby in New York during the 1974 World Series against the Mets. Dancing in the lobby are the wives of Oakland A's players and coaches, including Sharon Rudi, Gayle Odom, Bev Stock, Kathy Lindblad, Linda Tenace, Helen Hunter, and Norma Williams.

As music tastes and in-game entertainment changed so did the role of the Oakland A's Swingers. In 1991 the band was only contracted to play in the Coliseum parking lot before and after a limited number of home games. And finally in 1993 the Oakland A’s baseball team bought out the remainder of the Oakland A’s Swingers Baseball Band’s contract ending an almost quarter century musical tradition.


Editors note: All photo's in this blog are taken from ARS0194 Dave Radlauer Jazz Collection.