Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf picks up litter near Lake Merritt as part of the "Battle for the Bay" competition last Saturday in which three Bay Area cities - Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose - competed to see which one could recruit the most volunteers to pick up trash on California Coastal Cleanup Day. (Photo by Janis Mara/BCN)

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf expertly grabbed a wad of paper in the jaws of a trash-picker, then deposited the trash in a garbage bag she was carrying near Lake Merritt in Oakland.

Schaaf was one of thousands of Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose residents participating in the “Battle for the Bay,” a friendly competition between the cities over which one could recruit the most volunteers to clean up trash last Saturday, Sept. 21.

“Hey London, I’m trash-talking you,” Schaaf said, playfully sending a message to San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “You are going to look great in A’s green when you lose the ‘Battle for the Bay.’”

The penalty for losing is to wear the sports gear of the winning city, Schaaf explained.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo jumped into the fray after Breed and Schaaf announced the competition.

“Get ready to wear a SF Giants Jersey because San Francisco’s going to win this one,” Breed responded on her Twitter feed as she welcomed Liccardo to the contest.

Breed was scheduled to participate in San Francisco at Islais Creek Park at Quint and Arthur streets.

“Mayor Schaaf and I are thrilled that San Jose will be joining us to clean up our cities and our coastline,” Breed tweeted.

Dubbed “The Battle for the Bay,” the contest is a nod to the 30th anniversary of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s, which Oakland won in four straight games.

The three mayors waged the competition as part of the annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, during which volunteers around the state picked up trash, restore habitats and plant trees.

At least 400 cleanups were scheduled in the Bay Area and more than 1,000 in the state, according to Eben Schwartz of the California Coastal Commission.

Working alongside Schaaf in Oakland were members of the Oakland Museum’s Green Team and the Lake Merritt Weed Warriors. They were ripping up bristly ox-tongue, an invasive species, at the Lake Merritt Channel, a narrow waterway connecting the lake with the estuary and the bay.

Meanwhile, volunteers collected more than 400 pounds of litter at the western end of Lake Merritt near the Cathedral of Christ the Light.

Josephine Grell, left, of Oakland, a Bishop O’Dowd High School student, and Dara Northcroft of Oakland, worked with more than 100 other volunteers to pick up more than 400 pounds of litter at Oakland’s Lake Merritt on Sept. 21. (Photo by Janis Mara/Pagransen)

“Oakland is going to win (The Battle for the Bay) because we have more people who care. If San Francisco wins, it will only be because they have more trash,” opined Josephine Grell, a student at Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School.

Grell is on the school’s sustainability team and participated in the Climate Strike on Sept. 20 in San Francisco. She brought 70 fellow students with her to the event last Saturday.

“My personal highlight of the day was seeing the youth take leadership in this event,” said James Pribram, founder of the ECO-Warrior Foundation, referring to Grell and her fellow students.

Regardless of which city wins the competition, “the Bay wins, and that means we all win,” Schaaf said.