If you’re an Oakland Athletics fan and a regular at O.co Coliseum, then you’re probably at least casually acquainted with Jen Rainwater, known among A’s fans as the “Oakland A’s Socks Girl.” Even to say Jen’s a die-hard A’s fan would be an understatement. This girl bleeds hunter green and California gold and almost nothing can keep her away from an A’s home game, where, as you can see at left, she’s always seen sporting a pair of the green and gold socks that have become her trademark. She knows Oakland coliseum as well as she does her own home because it’s practically her second home, and if you want to know the status of any game the A’s are currently playing, just follow Jen’s Twitter because she’ll keep you just as up to the minute as the announcers will.
Jen is actually a native Texan who began learning about baseball from her mother and grandmother at the age of two. At four, her family moved to the Oakland area and she’s been an avid and loyal A’s supporter ever since. She became a season ticket holder in the mid-90s and hasn’t missed an A’s spring training in over 10 years.
Despite my being a fan of Jen’s most hated Major League Baseball team; the defending World Series champion and A’s arch-rivals from across the Bay, San Francisco Giants (She despises the “gnats with a passion beyond anything”), she gladly agreed to do this interview with me.
The following are condensed excerpts from my interview with Jen. (Author’s Note: The opinions expressed by Jen do not necessarily reflect the author’s opinions, especially those regarding the use of the designated hitter and the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants and their fans.)
CHRIS CHARLES: Thanks for doing this Jen! Of course, we’re doing this on an A’s off day.
JEN RAINWATER: Yeah! Thanks for asking me.
CHRIS: Did you watch the All Star game yesterday?
JEN: I did and I actually enjoyed it for the first time in years. I watched the Home Run Derby as well and of course I enjoyed that.
CHRIS: I wanted to learn a little about you first. The name Rainwater leads me to believe you’re part Native-American. Are you?
JEN: We’ve traced it back to being a partial Cherokee name but we don’t know for sure. My mom traced it back when my parents got married in ’72, and she couldn’t get far enough back to confirm it, but it appears to be Cherokee.
CHRIS: So, you’re originally from Texas but you moved to the Oakland area when you were four. I saw photo of you in a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders outfit. Are you a Cowboys fan or was that just for Halloween?
JEN: I’m a Cowboys fan, which is odd but I was brought up on football by my dad. I was brought up on baseball by my mom. She lived in Texas for 20 years and my dad lived in Texas his entire life. I was brought home from the hospital in a Cowboys onesie, that my parents still have.
CHRIS: So, why didn’t you become a Raiders fan after you moved out here?
JEN: I’m a Raiders but I’m (more of) a Cowboys fan at heart. I grew up watching Troy Aikman, Emmet Smith, and Michael and they had the biggest offensive line in football. I’m like the biggest Troy Aikman fan probably ever (laughs).
CHRIS: But would you say the Raiders are your favorite American League team?
JEN: Yes, absolutely. Mainly because of my loyalty to Oakland. As long as they’re not playing the Cowboys, I want them to win. I go to Raider games and have Raider outfits and things like that.
CHRIS: But if they were playing the Cowboys ….
JEN: I’d have to go with the Cowboys. It’s a family thing because all of my relatives live in Texas.
CHRIS: I see. So, do you still have that Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders outfit?
JEN: I do.
CHRIS: Do you ever wear it these days?
JEN: Um, I haven’t worn it in a while. A couple of Halloweens ago maybe. I do love that outfit. I would never get rid of it (laughs). But I wouldn’t really want to be a cheerleader. I’m not the cheerleading type.
CHRIS: You said you were never one in school?
JEN: No. I was a swimmer ….and played water polo.
CHRIS: Now you’ve had A’s Season tickets since the mid 1990s. Have you missed many games since you’ve been a season ticked holder?
JEN: Well yeah, I’ve missed a game here and there. If it’s like a six game home field, I’ll go to at least four to five games if not the whole thing.
CHRIS: So you sort of work your schedule around A’s games?
JEN: Yeah. I pretty much work my life around A’s games (laughs). The year I graduate from college, I had a full season, and I think I went to 79 out of 80-some games It was hard to got out to the coliseum but all I had to do was watch. The players have to play home and when their away, when I have time off , so it’s pretty crazy.
CHRIS: Are you sort of a celeb among A’s fans?
JEN: Well, definitely everyone in my section knows me, because that’s because I’ve sat there for so long. We had tickets in (section) 216 until like 2000, and then I moved to 128, behind the bullpen, so I definitely know everyone in my section. And I know the ushers. Some of the ushers are actually some of my best friends. Most of my friends I’ve met at the A’s games some way. This year it’s gotten a lot bigger. I had some girls approach me on BART who were all wearing A’s socks and say “Oh my god, you’re that girl!” So I don’t know if I’d say celebrity status, but it’s kinda getting to the point where a lot of people know me and social media has changed a lot of things. I’ve made so many new friends, like in the right field bleachers. It’s kinda connected, in my opinion, the main areas when the real die-hard fans sit, which I would say are; obviously right field, and I know a lot of people in the left field bleachers, and then behind the bullpen there’s a big group of us and in 119, along the rail, there’s another big group. Like near where the players come out. It’s kinda connected us all, like we have a womens group and the right field bleacher crew but they’ve kinda accepted me, which I find interesting because I consider myself more of a visitor to the right field bleachers than a right field bleacher creature. I’m definitely a bullpen buddy person.
CHRIS: Do any of the players know you by name?
JEN: They recognize me. Back in the day, I used to actually work with the A’s so I used to be friends with a lot of the players and player’s wives. Not as much anymore because we never keep people for that long.
CHRIS: What did you do?
JEN: I worked for KICU channel 6. They did the live broadcasting (for the A’s). I was an intern and I got to travel. I got see all the different ball parks. Yankee Stadium, all the AL West team’s parks, both stadiums in Chicago.
CHRIS: Ever caught a foul ball?
JEN: I have never …no. I usually kinda duck actually, to be honest with you. I saw a kid get hit in the face once and after that I was like “wow ….I really don’t wanna do that.” Plus, I have so many baseballs, it’s ridiculous.
CHRIS: A lot of them autographed?
JEN: A lot of them are and some are just ones that the players toss at you. Now, I give than away to kids around me because they deserve them more.
CHRIS: So you started learning about baseball from the age of two?
JEN: Yeah, when I was little I remember sitting down in front of the TV watching games with my grandmother. Those are like my earliest memories. Just like little flashes.
CHRIS: And you became an avid A’s fan since the age of four, right?
JEN: Yeah since my first game. After I moved here in 1985.
CHRIS: So at that age were you able to read a line-up and understand baseball stats?
JEN: I understood more than most kids would. When I was like six or seven, I started to understand what was really going on. I was talking to Bob Welch at spring training this year and he said he got traded in ’88 from the Dodgers and then it went “click, click, click” and everything kinda came back to me.
CHRIS: You knew what terms like RBI, ERA, etc. stood for?
JEN: Yeah, my parents drilled this stuff into me. I knew a lot about football at a very young age too. Like when Troy Aikman got drafted I was like “I’m gonna marry him” and I was like eight.
CHRIS: That’s really impressive. Did you ever play Little League baseball?
JEN: I did but I was never really that great. I’m really kinda clumsy at “land” sports, if that makes any sense. I’m more of a water person. Put me in the water and I can do pretty much any sport you want me to do. I played water polo, I hated like soccer and basketball. I tried them all. I always wanted to play football, so that’s why I really enjoyed water polo.
CHRIS: Where were you when the earthquake happened during the ’89 “Battle of the Bay” World Series?
JEN: This is one of my most vivid memories, ever. I was at my parents house, like down the street from where I live now, laying on the floor in front of the TV watching the pregame stuff. The phone and it was my grandmother from Texas. She was asking “are you okay?” and my mom was like “what are you talking about” because it hadn’t rolled out to Walnut Creek yet. My grandmother told her there was just a huge earthquake in San Francisco and then the TV went out and we started to feel it. My mom told me to get in the doorway so I did. When it kept going longer than normal, she told me to get under a desk, then she hung up the phone and got under a table. I very much remember that. When I ask my friends that they say they don’t know or they were playing outside. I would ask them “Why weren’t you watching the World Series?? Hello??”
CHRIS: Yeah, I remember exactly where I was too because it was an historic event for me, as well. Like I remember where I was when I heard about the 9-11 attacks, and when John Lennon was shot. (We chat for a bit about the Chevron “Battle of the Bay” Posters and A’s World series tickets.)
CHRIS: How would you feel if the A’s moved out of Oakland, to another Bay Area stadium?
JEN: I would hate it. I’d still be a fan, absolutely. I’d be a fan if they moved to a different state. There’s nothing that could take the A’s away from my life, like, ever. It’s pretty intense. (Jen talks about how someone could adopt a new team if they moved to a new area or if their team moved away, but she could never, ever, ever, be a Giants fan, ever.)
CHRIS: Do you think many of the players bear any allegiance to the cities they play for or that it’s just a business to them, and they would be gone to any city that would give them the sweetest deal?
JEN: It depends on the player but I feel that 90% of the A’s players are very loyal to the Oakland fans because they know how dedicated we are. There aren’t a large number of us, but those of us that are there every day, they are very kind to us and they know us and they’re really appreciative and I think they’re very loyal to Oakland, especially this (current) team. (We discuss a former A’s player who went to the Yankees, and teams wanting to move to new stadiums) They can tell how dedicated we are we love the coliseum. If the A’s got a new stadium in Oakland, I’d be okay with it but I’d miss my team (being in the old coliseum.)
CHRIS: What if they moved to San Jose, like there’s been talk of. Would you still attend the games regularly?
JEN: I still would, but hopefully they wouldn’t change the name of the team to like the San Jose A’s, but that would never happen. It would suck, I wouldn’t be happy about it, but they’d still be my boys.
CHRIS: Let’s talk about your socks. You’re starting your own line of Oakland A’s socks. Tell me about that.
JEN: I’m in the very early stages of designing them. It’s actually a lot more work than I thought it would be. A lot of little details I need to figure out., but yes! Depending on how that works out, I would branch out to (making) other teams (socks) except I would never, ever, ever make Giants socks. (Jen talks about how she strongly believes that if you live in the Bay Area you should pick a side and stick with that team through the good and bad, how she thinks 90% of Giants fans are clueless, and how Yoenis Cespedes’ name was mispronounced by the announcers at the Home Run Derby, etc.)
CHRIS: Getting back to the socks, if they are a hit, you said you might make them for other teams, except of course, the (defending World Series champion) Giants. How about other forms of apparel, like t-shirts, hats, whatever?
JEN: I’m a sock person which is kind of odd, but yeah.
CHRIS: Oh by the way, what do you think of the old stirrup socks players used to wear? They went out of style somewhere in the early 90s when players began wearing their pants all the way down to their ankles. Would you like to see them reinstated?
JEN: I think it should a personal choice. I personally have always liked the guys that show their socks. I just think it’s the classic look. I definitely love the stirrup socks, The other weekend, Reddick, Young, and Sogard wore them. I was Tweeting about it. I was like; “I need a pair of those so badly.”
CHRIS: So do you think you’ll be making stirrup socks, as well?
JEN: It’s definitely an option. Since I started going to the gym since I was about 13, I’ve felt that white socks are only for the gym. So I’ve always had colored socks. I have a friend who makes socks in different colors (She was wearing thigh-high pink and blue socks during our interview) and it’s kinda inspired me. So I was like “I want ones in A’s colors, because I’m an A’s fan.” and I told him he should totally connect with sports. I’ve had people come up to me in the parking lot (of the coliseum) saying “Check out my socks! or “Can I get a picture with you?” And people send me pictures a lot, on Facebook and Twitter.
CHRIS: So do many people there know you as the Oakland A’s Socks Girl?
JEN: It’s starting to become that way, yes.
CHRIS: Well, you could become quite a local celeb. (I mention an idea I have for an ad campaign that I hope to see Jen use, because I’m sure it would make her a local celeb)
JEN: There are a lot of possibilities. It’s all moving so quickly. I need to think of a good brand name, oh, and I have a Facebook fan page. I also recently did a project with the owner of Opening Day Designs, which is for fan-designed shirts. Adam, the owner was the one who told me I need make a fan site. My tickets for Spring training are right next to the dugout and Billy Dean walked out and took some pictures with us and was talking to me about my socks and he said “Yeah, you should make it your theme and run with it.” He would never remember this because I was just some random person at spring training but it’s very vivid in my mind. (Jen and I then talk about rages in baseball, I mention the Fear the Beard rage from a few years back, she mentions Balfour rage that her friend began, and then we go from there to ceremonial first pitches.)
CHRIS: So, I saw you throw out the first pitch at a game last April.
JEN: (Laughs) Yeah the A’s found me on Twitter and Facebook and e-mailed me and asked if I wanted to throw out the first pitch and I was like “Are you kidding?” At least I didn’t throw like a girl, that was my thing, I would have been like “Oh god!” (We talk about some memorable female celeb’s first pitches, including Carly Rae Jepson’s recent stink-o and Korean gymnast Shin Soo-ji’s amazing delivery)
CHRIS: Was that your first first pitch?
JEN: That was the first time. I couldn’t even believe it. I’d been practicing so I didn’t throw like a girl. Back in like the early 2000s, my friend Crystal and I used to go to the BART parking lot at night, because it was empty and all the light were on, and play catch, so I know how to throw a baseball. But as soon as they put the ball in my hand, every thought left my head. I was told to wait until the lady points at you but I don’t remember if I even looked at the lady. I was just like; “Oh my god, I gotta get rid of this” and was totally freaking out. But it was fun and definitely the chance of a lifetime.
CHRIS: Well you looked fine and relaxed to me.
JEN: Thanks! (Jen tells me about how the A’s staff helped her and told her about how they’ve had first pitch throwers faint and throw up before going out to the mound.) I’m really outgoing but shy at the same time. I really want to run with the socks thing, but haven’t really embraced the whole celeb thing yet.
CHRIS: I see you’ve also met Roberta Gonzales at the coliseum. I did a brief interview with her early last year. She’s also a big A’s fan and an amazing lady
JEN: Yeah I saw that on your website. I thought that was so cool!
CHRIS: What do you do during the off-season?
JEN: Well, there’s football, there’s basketball.
CHRIS: Are you a big (Golden State) Warriors fan?
JEN: Yes. We had Warriors season tickets up until about three years ago. I was there during the “We Believe” playoffs.
CHRIS: I know you have crossed over here to San Francisco for the Bay to Breakers run. Do you run in it every year?
JEN: No. I just used to go to see all the people dressed up and to party and have fun with my friends and things like that. But I haven’t been since the 100th one. (That would be 2010 if it were the 100th running, 2011 if it were the 100th year.) Those are definitely fun but I don’t run in it. Like I said, land sports; no. I like to water ski and surf and I played water polo and I swim.
CHRIS: So, what’s your favorite baseball movie?
JEN: I really couldn’t pick one but I could pick about 10. Let’s see; I like Field of Dreams and Bull Durham.
CHRIS: Did you ever see the original, 1976, Bad News Bears?
JEN: Yes. Well I wasn’t alive in 1976 but I’ve seen it. That’s a great movie
CHRIS: It is because I played Little League baseball and that movie is so true. The players, coaches, parents ….that’s exactly how they act and how they talk.
JEN: I like how movies are realistic and right on. In a way, that’s how I feel about the movie Fever Pitch because he’s such an intense fan, and I had the Red Sox. They’re like second (most hated team) after the (defending World Series champion) Giants. (Jen talks more here about why she doesn’t hate the Yankees as much, more about yesterday’s All Star game, when she worked for the A’s, and when she almost lost her job because she was driving up from Monterey to see the A’s play every home game during a winning streak.)
CHRIS: Wow, that’s really dedication. So, are there any former A’s players who’ve fallen out of favor with you for whatever reason, like maybe Canseco, McGuire ….?
JEN: Like Canseco’s behavior in the past has been a little sketchy, but it seems that he was just wanting attention. I loved Mark McGuire growing up, and in ’98, the whole (home run race) thing with Sammy Sosa was so exciting. Granted there was the whole performance enhancing drugs thing, but it was still amazing. I love Mark McGuire. I met him a couple of times randomly, locally. He lived in Alamo. There are some other players who’ve disappointed me but I wouldn’t say have fallen out of favor with me. I literally can’t cheer for Scutaro now because he went to what I call “the dark side” and that sucks, but I understand a little bit, too. I mean, we treated him like crap and then we traded him. We taught the Marco Scutaro cheer to a bunch of Rockies fans one year at spring training. We told them he was a super clutch player. I don’t blame him for resigning with the Giants but I can’t …cheer ..for ..people that are on the Giants. Zito I don’t like. There’s one. He went for big bucks and he totally didn’t deserve it because he’s inconsistent and if anyone would have actually paid attention when he was with the A’s, they would have that after 2002 he was completely inconsistent.
CHRIS: Okay, I know that was before your time but, can you name the starting lineup for the 1972 World Series team with at least three pitchers?
JEN: You asked me that question once before and to be honest with you, I can not. I so wanted to Google it but I didn’t. (I thought I could offhand, and ran off the names to Jen, but turned out, I was way off. For those interested, you can go here and click “Box Score and Play-By-Play” for each game to get the starting lineups for that particular game.)
CHRIS: Have you met many of the old-timers?
JEN: Yes, many times. They’re always at Spring training, Always. Some do charity, some coach. I sat next to Rollie Fingers at dinner at Don and Charlies and we were just talking to him. He’s awesome, I love that guy. And Vida Blue, Blue Moon Odom ….Campy’s always there. They’ll talk to you even if you’re not paying like 20 dollars for a signed ball. This past season they gave out these World Series replica tickets and I got all the guys who were on the team at the time to sign it.
CHRIS: What would you say is your most prized A’s souvenir?
JEN: Let me think, because I have a lot. I think my ticket from the perfect game signed by Dallas is pretty awesome. That perfect game was the most amazing experience. It was like game 20 of the streak. I mean, baseball started in the 1880 and the A’s were established in 1900 and there’s only been like 20-something perfect games, and how many people were actually there?
CHRIS: Do you have any unique souvenirs, like ….a base …a piece of turf ….a piece of a uniform that got torn off?
JEN: (Laughs) I have some socks that belonged to Mark Kotsay because I love Kotsay and I love socks. They’re yellow and he signed them. He’s really cool. (Jen tells me how she gravitates toward certain players like she did Marco Scutro and David Justice when he was with the A’s in 2002)
CHRIS: What do you think about the designated hitter in the AL. A good thing or do you think the pitcher should bat?
JEN: No I do not think the pitcher should bat. I think it’s the stupidest thing. A guy like Bartolo Colon just stands there and looks at them like “are you fuckin’ crazy?”
CHRIS: In Korean and Japan they have cheerleaders in pro baseball and some Major League teams here have them now. Do you think that’s a good idea or hell no?
JEN: Hell no. I don’t find it demeaning because I love the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders but it just doesn’t belong in baseball because baseball’s like a game of numbers. Oakland creates a lot of trends. Like the Wave was created in Oakland and pies in the face. People may copy it but we came up with it. People would pay attention to something other than the game and, in my opinion, it’s also distraction to the players. And it sort of puts down the female fans a little bit. Like “cleat chasers.” I can’t stand them.
CHRIS: “Cleat chasers”? Is that another term for “Baseball Annies”?
JEN: Yeah, exactly like straight-up out of Bull Durham. We call them cheat chasers now.
CHRIS: Do you know any or know of any?
JEN: Yes. Especially sitting behind the bullpen, you can get really up close and personal with the players. I saw a girl down in LA once who was with one of the relief pitchers, and he had a wife or fiance somewhere of course, and he was so mean to her. I was like “wow.” I hate that guy too but I won’t mention his name. Now there’s another girl I know of who gets all dressed up to the nines when she goes to the games, which is weird to go to a ball game, because I wear dirty Converse All Stars.
CHRIS: I see you’re also a Sacramento River Cats fan.
JEN: Yes, I’m one of the founders of the Johnny Doskow fan club. I try to get to 10-15 River Cats games a year. We go to Raley Field ever year for my birthday. When you go to the River Cats games, it’s kind of like Spring training, but not as intimate.
CHRIS: Oh, just one more question. Have you ever worn or would you ever wear an orange and black outfit under any circumstance? JEN: Never! Never! I don’t allow orange in my house. (I give Jen some scenarios like, what if the company you worked for required you to wear orange uniforms and she was like “I wouldn’t work for that company!”) The closest I get to orange in my house are UT colors. (Oh, Jen will wear red, but never with gold because she also hates the defending NFC championSan Francisco 49ers.)
Looking a bit starstruck next to A’s pitcher Ryan Cook
Gamer Babes at the ballpark: Jen with fellow A’s fanatic Kaitlyn Koron last month
During a recent game against the Cardinals, Jen made an unexpected appearance
on the coliseum’s Comcast screen during the 7th inning stretch.
Jen throwing out the first pitch at the opening of the A’s April 16th game
against the Houston Astros. An honor not bestowed to just any fan.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the quarterly magazine, Effective.
Celebrity chef Marisa Churchill is well-known for the low-cal pastries and desserts she creates that don’t taste low-cal. Her best-selling book, Sweet & Skinny: 100 Recipes for Enjoying Life’s Sweeter Side Without Tipping the Scales