Athletics

Athletics

OAKLAND -- In front of a roaring Coliseum crowd, MC Hammer stepped to the front of the mound to deliver the ceremonial first pitch to A.J. Puk.

As was appropriate, "Hammer Time!" played over the loudspeaker.

A perfect strike from the iconic rapper kicked off the American League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night, as the A's hosted the Tampa Bay Rays.

Hammer, born Stanley Burrell, has thrown first pitches before, so he wasn't nervous. He could have even been the 10th member of the A's starting lineup if he had it his way. He was sporting the white baseball pants and A's warm-up jacket. He was ready to go.

The hearty Coliseum crowd is a place very familiar to the Oakland native.

"My brother was the actual bat boy and my other brother was the assistant clubhouse manager -- I was the baby," Hammer told NBC Sports California before Wednesday's game. "I ended up meeting the owner, Charles O. Finley, and he hired me to be his assistant and broadcast the games from the owner's box in Chicago because he couldn't hear the games, so that was kind of the history. I was, you know, 9 or 10 years old, and that's the genesis on how it all started."

The possibility of having 50,000 fans at the Coliseum was extremely exciting. It's not a scene many are used to in Oakland, but Hammer wasn't surprised. He's seen this before.

 

"Several times," he said. "During our run, we won five consecutive division championships and three consecutive World Series, so it was a tremendous amount of fans."

The 57-year-old said he's witnessed it all, from the Bash Brothers era to "Billy Ball." But he wants to use the huge turnout as a springboard for the future.

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Hammer forever will be a fan of his beloved A's, and looks forward to cheering them on Wednesday night.

"We got a great roster, mixed in with some vets," he said, "and they know how to win -- so we look forward to winning."