In the second in our series of articles featuring the fan groups at the Coliseum who make A's home games a unique experience, we catch up with Chris Dobbins, founder of the A's right field bleacher club The Green Stampede. In addition to vociferously rooting for the A's at A's home games, The Green Stampede runs a tutoring program for kids in the East Bay. OaklandClubhouse.com writer Rachel Afraimi chats with Chris about his club.
I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Dobbins last year after I heard him on a broadcast of Extra Innings. Chris put in a plug about The Green Stampede, an after school tutoring club for youth. The club meets before games at the Coliseum and get school children help with their homework and then they get to stay and watch the game. I was so impressed with what I heard on the radio I contact Chris myself and went to see what the Green Stampede was all about. This week I sat down with Chris to ask him questions about himself, the club and of course the A's!
1) How did you start the group?
I founded the Green Stampede in March of 2001. I received a California State trademark on the name and logo that year. In 2002, we formed it into a non-profit corporation and received 501[c]3 status. Currently, this is our 5th Season of running the tutoring program and the Wednesday night tailgate parties. We currently have a board of directors of 7 members, four officer positions, and eleven committees with chairpersons.
2) What does the Oakland A's Homework club do and how does it work?
I have to admit that I really got the idea to start an A’s fan club after my friend Rob Rivera (AKA Black Hole Rob) was the President and one of the founding members of The Black Hole. At the time, though, I had finished being a middle school Oakland school teacher and I wanted to do more than drink beer before A’s games.
My last year teaching at Havenscourt Middle School (near the Coliseum at 66th and East 14th or International Blvd), I used to take my 8th Grade Boys Soccer team to the A’s games. One time, I sponsored a school trip after school on a Wednesday day game. I bought 130 tickets and took that many kids to the game. They had a great time and I knew that not only was this something positive for the students to do, it built the fan base.
We founded the tutoring program so that students could get their homework done and receive additional tutoring and then get to enjoy the A’s game. In a nutshell, students come to the Coliseum, do their homework in a conference room in Mount Davis, and then stay for the game. We provide snacks and instruction and then supervise them during the game. The cool part is the A’s give us the tickets and after a number of sessions, some of the A’s players come and speak to the students.
This is all free to the students, who are predominantly low-income and “under-privileged.” (I hate that term). We have had Gil Heredia, Erik Hiljus, Eric Chavez, Jermaine Dye, Terrence Long, Billy McMillon, and Mark Kotsay come and speak to the students and it has been an enjoyable experience for all.
3) Do you work with the A's front office on the
I am extremely thankful to the Oakland A’s Community Relations Department; especially Detra Paige, Warren Chu, and Sharon. In addition, I would like to thank The Port of Oakland for co-sponsoring the program and for Extra Innings Host Robert Buan who always has positive stuff to say about us and allows me to get on his show and talk about it.
4) What makes the right field bleachers better than
the left field ones?
Ha ha ha. I was born in 1972 and my parents took me to a playoff game against the Tigers and then down to the airport after we beat the Reds in 7 games. Since I was born and raised in Oakland (I was Sr. Class President of Skyline High School in 1990), I always went to a lot of A’s games; especially in the down years.
When the A’s became popular again in the late 90’s and more specifically the early 2000’s many people started sitting in Left Field since the Drummers established their base there. Those of us that chose to sit in Right Field feel that the Left Fielders are all people who while they are great and vociferous fans, either didn’t grow up in Oakland or haven’t been long term fans. This is obviously an over-generalization, but since left field gets most of the publicity, we think that we are the true fans and we don’t need to have flags. Also notice that Right Field won the Left Field – Right Field Softball Game this year 11-8 which brings the series even at one game a piece.
5) What is your favorite sign at the stadium?
My favorite sign at the Coliseum would have to be the beautiful Yellow with Green Lettered Sign that adorns Section 145, The Green Stampede sign. Thanks to Vicky Bullard, one of our members, who made it. Besides that one, I like the “Let’s Do This” cardboard one that sometimes hangs off of left field.
6) Are there players from the A's who talk to the club
Mark Kotsay usually throws up a ball to the kids and he has been very friendly. Johnny Damon used to be pretty cool as well, as was T-Long on occasions.
7) Are there out of town players who are friendly, as well?
I always stress the fact that you need to not use profanity when sitting in the bleachers, Hiram Bocachica (who is now signed with the A’s), when he was with the Tigers used to go back and forth with some of our members, but it was all in fun. Other players have thrown balls up to the kids as well and it is always appreciated.
8) How many members of the club are there?
As far as the tutoring program goes, we will have about 20 students consistently with about 10 volunteers. As for our other events, our Halloween Party last year had over 400 people and our tailgate parties regularly bring in 150. At our tailgate parties in parking lot B by the electrical towers, we always provide the food and we get donations on adult beverages. What makes our tailgate parties unique, however, is that we are open to everyone and we always have a DJ. Liquid Sound DJ’s of Fremont always give us a good price and play a popular ensemble of 80’s hip hop, disco, and smooth R & B (at least that is what I like).
Next year, we have plans to make The Green Stampede a membership organization and charge dues like the Oakland A’s Boosters Club. Then we will have an exact count of members. Our “Yahoo A’s group” has over 300 members on it.
9) How can people join?
There is always room to join. We have limited spaces in the tutoring program and those will be on a first come, first serve basis. Interested students and/or volunteers can send an email to email@example.com or check out our website for more info: www.greenstampede.com.
You can also call our offices at (510) 562-2506 if you have more questions. Also, check out A’s Fan Radio.com. It is our weekly internet based radio show that I co-host every Thursday evening at La Estrellita Café in Downtown Oakland. Our third season will be starting next month. Go A’s!
Extremism, in defense of the A’s, is not a Vice!
OaklandClubhouse.com thanks Chris Dobbins for taking the time to talk with us and for his contributions to the A's and the community.