Since their inception, the Oakland Oaks baseball team had been nomads, playing at various stadiums without any to call “home”. That all changed when they built Oaks Park in 1913. Through the years, it hosted many great game and soon to be legends of the game. When it stood, it held a special place in the heart of Oakland.
Oaks management found a plot of land on the corner of San Pablo and Park Avenue on the site of the original Emery family homestead. Construction began on February 1, 1913 and was completed by March 15 of that same year. The total cost of the project was $80,000 and it included an automatic sprinkler system. The park originally seated 10,000 spectators in 19 sections of grandstands, nine of which were covered. The location was perfect with bars and restaurants surrounding the ballpark for fans to enjoy before and after the game.
Despite a stadium being ready for them in their hometown, the Oaks still played a number of their games in San Francisco until after 1922. In 1923, their first full year in Oaks Park, the Oaks drew 207,235 fans and averaged 2,052 per game. A few years later, the Oaks won their first PCL pennant in 1927. The stadium continued to be upgraded with lights added to the ballpark in 1931.
When the club was sold to Brick Laws and Joe Blumenfeld in 1943, the stadium underwent renovations which cost more than the stadium, $250,000. The improvements included new light standards, expanded grandstands, new bleachers in right and center field and new seats down the right field line. In total, they added 3,000 more seats to the ballpark.
They also decided to move the clubhouses from centerfield to the area under the grandstand. This was strategic as it helped prevent sign stealing from center field and it also made it easier for children to collect autographs in the walkway from the clubhouse to the dugout.
Following these renovations, the Oaks won another PCL championship in 1948 as well as a Governors Cup in 1948, 1950 and 1954. But despite their success, the Oaks could only do so much to keep a consistent fan base. With the Giants coming to San Francisco in 1957, Oaks management knew that it was only a matter of time before they became obsolete. In 1955, their last year in Oaks Park, they averaged just 1,644 fans per game while the team sputtered to a 77-95 record.
At the conclusion of the 1955 season, the Oaks moved to Vancouver to become the Mounties and Oakland was suddenly without a minor league baseball team. Two years later, Oaks Park was demolished and was replaced by a Pepsi-Cola bottling plant. Years later, that bottling plant would be replaced by Pixar Animation Studios. The only relic of that site’s baseball past is a restaurant across the street appropriately named “the Oaks Club”. Though Oaks Park is long forgotten, the memories it once held will live on forever.