Cubs’ Nico Hoerner reflects on Oakland Coliseum memories before homecoming

In his first major-league game at the Coliseum, he went 2-for-5 with a walk, three runs scored and an RBI as the Cubs pounded out 20 hits in a 10-1 victory Monday against the A’s.

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Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner throws to first to force out Aledmys Díaz of the A’s on Monday night.

Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner throws to first to force out Aledmys Díaz of the A’s on Monday night.

Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP

OAKLAND, Calif. — The image of fireworks lighting up the sky over Greenman Field in Oakland is still bright in Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner’s memory.

As a kid, Hoerner always looked forward to playing night games at the fields a few blocks from where the Athletics play. And none was more epic than 10-year-old Hoerner’s Mustangs taking on the rival Bulldogs as the A’s firework show turned the scene into something straight out of ‘‘The Sandlot.’’

On Monday, Hoerner played at the Oakland Coliseum for the first time in his major-league career. Up until a couple of weeks ago, Hoerner never had faced an American League West team. But the new, more balanced schedule brought him back to his hometown.

‘‘I think it’s awesome just seeing all the talent in the league,’’ Hoerner said in a conversation with the Sun-Times before going 2-for-5 with a walk, three runs scored and an RBI as the Cubs pounded out 20 hits in a 10-1 victory against the A’s in the series opener. ‘‘It’s exciting to go new places. It’s exciting to see new players. It keeps the season fresh. You still see your division opponents plenty.’’

For Hoerner, it also means playing in front of a robust cheering section full of his family, friends and Little League and high school coaches.

‘‘It’s cool to be able to share that in a place that I grew up and have a lot of memories,’’ Hoerner said.

Hoerner was only 2 or 3, he estimates, when he first attended an A’s game at the Coliseum. His family would go on Wednesdays, when the A’s held a promotion for $2 tickets and $1 hot dogs.

He would go early to watch batting practice and see stars from other teams. He witnessed plenty of batting-practice home runs by Ichiro Suzuki and Manny Ramirez.

In high school, Hoerner was there when the A’s Coco Crisp hit a walk-off single to win Game 4 of the 2012 AL Division Series against the Tigers, sending it to a fifth game.

‘‘Everyone hung out at the game for, like, 30 minutes afterwards,’’ Hoerner said. ‘‘No one cleared, and everyone’s just celebrating.’’

The A’s 55-year tenure at the Coliseum is nearing a close. Their lease expires after the 2024 season, and stories of sewage leaks, feral cats, broken seats and an opossum in the visitors’ TV booth have plagued the stadium for years. But in an ongoing saga, it’s still unclear whether the A’s can work successfully with the city to make plans for a new waterfront ballpark in Oakland a reality or whether they will relocate to Las Vegas.

‘‘The A’s have had talks about the stadium since I can remember,’’ Hoerner said.

If the A’s do end up in Las Vegas, their move will complete the rapid exodus of major pro sports teams from Oakland. The Warriors crossed the bay for a new stadium in San Francisco in 2019, and the Raiders left for Las Vegas in 2020.

‘‘It’s an organization that’s had a lot of success, and it’s not what you want to see,’’ Hoerner said of the A’s, who have won four World Series titles in Oakland and entered play Monday with the sixth-best winning percentage in the majors since 2000, despite a recent free fall. ‘‘And a lot of people are really proud to be from Oakland and excited to have a team that represents that.’’

After his performance Monday, Hoerner was hitting .338 with a .394 on-base percentage and nine stolen bases.

There was no fireworks show on the A’s promotional schedule for the series, but the series opener was still a game for Hoerner to remember.

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