OAKLAND -- Jose Canseco, among the first to arrive, slipped into the familiar No. 33 jersey that was waiting for him inside a suite reserved for the 1989 A's reunion. The former outfielder tugged playfully at the uniform that no longer fits as well as it did during his super-muscular youth.
"Sucks getting old," Canseco, 50, cracked.
Actually, based on the good vibes Friday night, getting old didn't look so bad. With the passage of time, the '89 champions were all smiles, having had 25 years to come to grips with the earthquake that disrupted their four-game sweep of the Giants, their anger at Canseco for his controversial book and, more recently, the death of beloved pitcher Bob Welch.
On Saturday, they can simply raise a toast to one of the greatest teams in Oakland history.
"It was an earthquake Series, and there were some unfortunate things," ace Dave Stewart said. "But I do believe through it all that it brought two sides of the bay together. And that was a good thing."
Stewart, the World Series MVP, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday as part of a pregame celebration for the last Oakland team to win it all. Friday's behind-the-scenes gathering was a low-key affair, a chance to renew acquaintances. In Canseco's case, there was a lot of catching up to do.
This marks his first appearance at the Oakland Coliseum since his 2005 book "Juiced," in which he detailed his own anabolic steroid use and named Mark McGwire, his famed "Bash Brother," as one of his fellow users.
For that reason, Canseco is unsure how Oakland fans will react when he is introduced Saturday.
"I really am nervous right now. I don't know," said Canseco, who hit 254 of his 462 career home runs for the A's. "I'm kind of scared and nervous and excited at the same time. ... I'm hoping we can focus on baseball and celebrate the game."
Canseco, who still looks strong enough to hit one to the tarps, apologized for writing the book, even as he stood by its contents. He said he was put "between a rock and a hard place" because his publisher, HarperCollins, wouldn't go forward with the project unless he named names.
"I regret writing it, no ifs, ands or buts about it," he said. "I regret putting my friends in the book, even though it was a true accounting of what happened to me in major league baseball.
"The reason I (wrote) it was not a good reason. I was angry at the time with Major League Baseball. ... I think eventually my youth, my lack of experience, my anger toward Major League Baseball for not being able to find a job at 37 years old really overwhelmed me. I wasn't thinking correctly."
While his reaction from the crowd remains in question, his A's teammates embraced him readily. Even Stewart, who didn't always see eye-to-eye with the outfielder when they played together, said he was "genuinely glad that he's here."
"How many years has it been? Whatever took place back then as far as our team was concerned, it couldn't have been that bad because we were always in a position to win. He was a big, big piece of that," Stewart said.
Dave Henderson, asked how fans might react to Canseco, said: "I think it's going to be fine. I've been around Billy Buckner and others. People forgive. Time heals wounds."
And if not? There are plenty of other things for A's fans to cheer. The '89 team went 99-63 during the regular season and outscored opponents 712-576.
Rickey Henderson, who is here for the reunion, led the American League with 126 walks and 77 stolen bases. Carney Lansford, who is also in town, just missed the batting title at .336, a shade behind Kirby Puckett's .339.
Their manager, Tony La Russa, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next weekend.
"He was very easy to play for," said outfielder Dave Parker, a veteran presence on that '89 team. "He delegated authority to the players. And he was great handling egos. He had to be because we had an All-Star team."
Asked to describe the '89 team, Canseco said: "I would say 'entertaining.' We had a lot of stars, a lot of different characters. When fans came out to watch us play, they got their money's worth."
The '89 players will wear jerseys Saturday with a BW patch in honor of Welch, the former Cy Young Award winner. Welch died last month at 57 in his Seal Beach home. The Orange County Coroner's office has not yet released an official cause of death.
"Bobby never had a bad word to say about anybody. He was always uplifting you," Stewart said. "He was just a great teammate, and it's unfortunate that he's been taken away way, way, way too soon. He'll always be in my heart."