There have been numerous changes to the name of Oakland's stadium through the decades, but the Coliseum still has the immense foul territory that has been adding outs to hitters' stats since 1968.

And sometimes it was also frustrating for fielders, who could count on several longer runs — futile or successful — per series.

"You know who hated playing there!" said Dan Gladden, two-time World Series-winning Twins left fielder-turned-radio broadcaster. "Kent Hrbek. He had to chase all those pop flies way down the line. He was the best at catching 'em, but it was a lot of extra running."

• • •

Stanley Burrell was a new teenager hanging around the Coliseum in the mid-1970s. The A's Reggie Jackson thought he detected a resemblance to Henry Aaron and started calling him "Hammer" (Aaron's nickname).

"Reggie was right," Roy Smalley said. "The kid looked exactly like a young Henry Aaron must have looked. And he was around all the time."

Owner Charlie Finley put Burrell to work, delivering messages. And when Finley was at his home in Indiana, the young man would give him a play-by-play over the phone.

The nickname came in handy when Burrell started a rap music career and named himself MC Hammer. He became such a front-row celebrity at big sporting events and other spectacles that I had a friend who insisted this was the case:

"There is more than one Hammer. No person can be in that many places in a short time."

• • •

One of the great baseball mysteries is how a loose cannon of an owner such as Finley, with limited front office help and a managerial carousel, was able to assemble those remarkable A's at the start of the 1970s.

Five straight AL West Division titles, and three consecutive World Series titles — 1972 through 1974. That didn't happen again until the Yankees from 1998 to 2000.

Marvin Miller, the head of the players union, created the free agency that wound up putting an end to Finley's powerhouse. Before that, Miller saluted Finley for his great ability as a "talent evaluator."

Marvin might have been saying that to agitate the game's other owners and general managers, or maybe he was right. Finley was forced to sell the A's in 1980 to pay off an enormous divorce settlement.

• • •

Tim Laudner, former Twins catcher and long-time regular on their pregame and postgame TV telecasts (yes, those still exist, Comcast subscribers), was asked if he had a favorite tale from playing at the Coliseum.

"One comes immediately to mind," Laudner said. "The A's didn't draw big numbers all the time, but the people that were there … they were into it, and enjoyed getting on the other team's players.

"This time, Puck [Kirby Puckett] comes running in from center field, and I can see he's upset about something. I ask, 'What's the matter, Puck?'

"He doesn't want to talk about it, but I ask again, and he says, 'Those people in the stands here, they are riding me hard. There's this one guy ...

"He yelled, 'Hey, Puckett, when you haul rear-end out there, you have to make two trips.' "

• • •

Small world:

Denny Hocking runs a batting facility in Santa Ana, Calif. His partner is Derek Evans. In a conversation this week, he mentioned Matt Nokes and Doug DeCinces among the former big-leaguers that will drop by the cages, shoot the breeze, offer their feedback.

The reason for contacting Hocking was to talk about his foul fly catch, racing from second base to behind first, for the final out in the Twins' 5-4 win in the decisive fifth game of a 2002 Division Series against the favored A's.

He mentioned that Derek Evans is the son of Darrell Evans. Which triggered an old brain to ask: How did Darrell mess up when the Twins upset his Detroit Tigers in five games in the 1987 ALCS?

There it was through the magic of the internet: Darrell was picked off third base with the Tigers down a run late in the Twins' victory in Game 4 in Tiger Stadium. Gary Gaetti gave the sign for the pickoff throw to Laudner, he gunned it after the next pitch and the rally was stopped.

And there was also this: The next day, the Twins wrapped up the series when Nokes hit a ball back to Jeff Reardon, and the closer tossed to first to send Minnesota to a World Series for the first time since 1965.

As for Hocking, there are twin daughters, Penelope and Iliana, who are soccer stars — with Penelope playing in the National Women's Soccer League and Iliana probably headed there when she recovers from an injury. And the Hockings' son, Jarrod Hocking, is a UCLA outfielder with two years of eligibility remaining.

So a lot of watching soccer on your résumé, Dad? "Hey, I played more soccer as a young kid than I did baseball," Hocking said. "And I coached daughters in soccer, but not a son in baseball."

• • •

Speaking of offspring:

As a dedicated non-keeper of memorabilia from various sports events attended, it was unusual for me to grab onto one of Finley's orange baseballs at Milwaukee's County Stadium in 1975.

Yet, there he was — Charlie O. — walking into the press box during that All-Star Game and flipping the orange baseballs that he was hoping to bring to the big leagues to any raised hand.

"Yeah, give me one of those," I thought. "It's not coming to baseball, but the orange ball will be a good conversation piece as it sits on a mantel or a shelf for the next several decades."

Brought the ball home. Showed it to my sons. Put it aside. Overheard a makeshift ballgame a few days later in the needlessly large yard involving my sons and some of their outlaw buddies in the Prior Lake countryside.

The sphere being used was Finley's orange baseball, although hardly recognizable after rolling through the wet grass, and the muck, and being pounded on for numerous hours.

So much for memorabilia.