OAKLAND -- When Coco Crisp was a kid, he and his dad would take trips to the Rose Bowl to score baseball cards. The goal was to acquire every Rickey Henderson card ever made.
Now, his goal is to be the next Rickey -- in the sense of leading the A's to a title.
"Being part of this heritage," Crisp said at the Athletics' FanFest on Saturday, "along with guys I grew up idolizing, it's pretty surreal. It's pretty amazing."
Crisp, 34, appears to be legacy shopping as he preps for his 13th big league season. In explaining why he took a two-year, $22.75 million extension from the A's, it was clear his perspective was being shaped by deeper meaning.
He is probably right that he could have gotten more money as a free agent after this coming season -- especially when you consider the outfield crop won't nearly be as thick next winter. But Crisp's focus is on accomplishing something greater than a few million more. He puts more value on clubhouse chemistry, on his relationship with the fan base.
Undeterred by consecutive one-and-done postseason stints, Crisp senses something bigger here.
He's right about that. Crisp, who won the World Series with Boston in 2007, is already beloved by A's fans. But leading this franchise to its first title since 1989 would vault him from a solid player with a productive career to a legend in a respected franchise.
Such would mean a great deal to Crisp. The last four seasons with the A's have only bolstered his appreciation for the franchise and area.
Crisp was born and raised in L.A. but spent time in the Bay Area every summer as a kid. He hit his first home run here, playing sandlot ball with his cousin. The 12-year-old Crisp drilled a tennis ball to right-center over a huge fence into a housing complex, proudly losing their only ball.
"I grew up already having a passion for this ballclub," he said, chatting with media from a lounge in Oracle Arena. "I really would love to get a World Series ring here. ... I really think this is a team that deserves to win a championship. It would be nice to win one here. Whether it happens or not, that's just the way the game goes. It's hard to do. But we have the capability."
Crisp said that if he didn't think a title were possible, he would've played out this coming season and tested the market. But something about this team justs sits well with him.
The way they approach the game. The relentlessness of the front office and the expertise of manager Bob Melvin. The camaraderie they share.
"I like the mentality of these guys," Crisp said. "Just go out there and play. Have fun and whatever happens, happens. We've got a lot of guys here who love to win."
Those things matter to Crisp more these days. It's getting harder to pull him away from his Southern California home, so work needs to offer a better reason to leave.
His kids are older and starting to notice daddy's gone. The pull of home was evident as he explained in great detail the science project he helped his 7-year-old son build. Together they crafted the habitat of orcas and penguins. Crisp did most of the environment.
"My son better get A's," he said through a laugh. "He did a good job."
Contact Marcus Thompson II at email@example.com.