In 1902, while the team now in Oakland was still the Philly Athletics, a rival manager scoffed, casting the fledgling franchise off as a herd of "white elephants." In response, manager Connie Mack adopted the elephant as the team's official insignia—a legacy that lives on with the current mascot, Stomper—before the A's stampeded to the American League pennant. Since that first defiant victory, the team has won nine World Series championships, moving to Kansas City in 1955, then Oakland in 1968. Over more than a century, the club has fostered 11 league MVPs and eight Rookies of the Year, including future titans Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Today, the A's dazzle fans at the 35,067-capacity Coliseum, which features a lush natural-bluegrass surface and a spacious foul territory—technically still a 19th-century Mexican province—that baits pop-up outs, making it one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in Major League Baseball.
While idly discussing the prospect of creating a miniature-golf course festooned with elaborate art installations, Michael Taft realized that he couldn’t think of a single putt-putt course in the Bay Area. Fast-forwarding to his retirement plan of owning a small business, Taft snapped up an abandoned video store and enlisted artistic friends and local craftspeople to make his dream a reality. Subpar Miniature Golf’s map of handcrafted holes has players putting their way through Bay Area landmarks, including an Altamont Pass windmill and the Golden Gate Bridge, tricked out with loop-the-loops. A sprawling, hand-drawn mural wraps its way around the room, depicting scenes of NoCal life and tricking gullible coyotes into trying to sprint through the walls.
Subpar Miniature Golf’s ever-growing arcade area keeps button-smashers busy with vintage pinball machines and a pair of air-hockey tables, contributing to Taft's dream of turning the space into a family institution and community fixture. As he told the San Francisco Chronicle, "Every once in a while, you'll hear a giant cheer in the back by a group that sunk a (great) putt. It makes me feel really good, like 'We did that. That's us.'"
Recently profiled by The Atlantic for its members' innovative inventions, TechShop’s supportive community of inventors, artists, technicians, and alchemists share their excitement about the next big idea in an environment limited only by their collective imagination. The 17,000-square-foot smorgasbord of inventive creativity beckons people of all skill levels to its DIY confines, where members can wield tools not found in most private workshops, slicing through steel with a plasma cutter or accessing 3-D design software to finally realize the goal of crawling inside the Internet. Hands-on classes jump-start creative juices, introducing students to vocational skills including welding, soldering, and woodworking. Neophyte inventors aged 12–17 are welcome but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to ensure they don't break physics.
Founded by master trainer Sergio Silva, Team Silva Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu arms students with the grapples and fitness techniques needed to get in shape or tackle competitors. Adult programs delve into the takedowns and strikes of mixed martial arts, jujitsu, and muay thai kickboxing, and women's classes range from yoga to fighting-themed fitness. Tykes can begin learning self-defense and discipline with muay thai lessons, gaining the swift, precise movements to fend off playground bullies or rebuff roving packs of feral kindergartners. A safe and encouraging environment, the Alameda studio lines its walls with cushions and trained coaches who oversee classes and open-mat sessions where students practice their martial-arts techniques or pickup lines.
The crack of the bat is an exhilarating sound, whether or not the batter is about to run the bases. At Triple Play U.S.A., players can hone their skills in cages that hurl baseballs or softballs at 25–80 miles per hour with more precision than a propped-up leaf-blower. Pitchers can also keep their arms conditioned in the center's pitching tunnel, but they’ll probably have to change up their throwing pattern on the center’s half-basketball court. While resting their arms, patrons can find snacks at the concession stand or catch up on the latest scores on one of two HDTVs.