Wednesday began with Raiders talk in a funeral home and ended with A's talk in a bar.
When I arrived at the funeral home late in the morning, Raiders fans had already begun mourning Jack Tatum with a tailgate memorial service. They cranked up the music and draped a No. 32 jersey on the door of their Ford van, painted silver and black, which was parked outside. Tatum, a longtime Raiders hero, died July 27 at age 61.
Instead of tears, there was music and beer.
I retreated and was trying to write the story assigned to me about Tatum when the news broke that Mayor Ron Dellums would not seek re-election. I filed the Tatum story, threw my laptop in the back seat and headed to City Hall.
But it was to remain a Raiders day for a few more hours.
Others in the newsroom already had the Dellums story.
Meanwhile, Raiders legend Otis Sistrunk had stopped to eat at a restaurant on Telegraph Avenue before heading to the Tatum memorial service. He flew in from his home in Seattle.
He and Tatum wore silver and black in the '70s, during the team's mad, glorious, outlaw days.
But I wouldn't have known all this if I hadn't stopped by the same restaurant, Phat Matt's, to talk to the owners, Matt and Charlotte Gonzalez. He is a former stone mason. She worked as an office manager. Now they converse in the language of barbecue.
"I can do three whole cows on it," Charlotte said about the large square smoker with levers and
"And if you take a nap, that's OK," Matt added. "It's the United Nations of barbecue."
But not the drenched-in-sauce kind. Matt says too much barbecue sauce would hide the flavor of the meat and the "rub" he created during the years the pair competed in cook-offs.
Customers can ask for extra sauce, which comes spicy or mild.
The couple pointed out the table where Sistrunk and two other men sat. But I didn't know who I was looking at. A Raiders fan I am, but my methods tend to leave certain details lacking. Like names and faces. I like to say that proper nouns and I have a terrible relationship. I didn't want to walk up and ask, "So. Which one of you is a former Raider football player?"
Instead, I asked, "What are you eating?"
The man who turned out to be Sistrunk was savoring smoked sausage.
"It was real hot. Tasty," he announced.
"She wants to know about your ribs," he told the man sitting next to him, Al Fisher, who was working on a plate of them.
"As you can see, I'm taking my time and savoring the flavor," said Fisher, a sports memorabilia distributor.
"Like bobbleheads?" I asked, picturing one of Catfish Hunter in the Tribune newsroom. No, he said. More like signed jerseys. I looked at the ones Gonzalez had framed and hung on the wall: Stabler, Gannon, Rice.I was too embarrassed to ask if anyone even makes football player bobbleheads.
Gonzalez began passing out bites of bittersweet chocolate-covered smoked meat as the trio headed past a 4-foot Raiders emblem toward the door. A Raider dream catcher swayed near the bar on the opposite side of the room.
Rolls of paper towels stand on each table. "That's a good idea," Fisher said. As he walked away, I looked twice at the block that Oakland A's pitcher Vida Blue might once have cruised down in his Cadillac -- a present from the former owner Charlie Finley.
On one end of the block sat the Nordic House, before it moved to San Pablo Avenue. Neldam's Danish Bakery on the opposite end is closed, although a collective of former employees announced plans to reopen as A Taste of Denmark.
I was thinking of writing a profile of the block when a man hobbled out of a bus. He was wearing an A's jersey -- No. 49, pitcher Brett Anderson's number.
So in the end, sports dominated the day.
ESPN's Howard Bryant, a former Tribune reporter, was at Books Inc. in Alameda reading from his thoughtful biography about Henry Aaron.
Hammerin' Hank may be best known for breaking Babe Ruth's home run record. Then the slugger was sucked into the controversy provoked when the Giants' Barry Bonds tried to surpass him.
I listened to all this in the company of my boyfriend and his buddy -- two men who love the Raiders and the A's as much as they would a firstborn son.
I was full of football legends and baseball stories by the time 9 p.m. rolled round. So it wasn't far from there to the Gold Coast Grill, a restaurant and lounge on Park Street where Joe DiMaggio would have fit right in.
Contact Angela Woodall at 510-208-6413. Follow her at Twitter.com/angelawoodall