Tag Archives: Charley Finley

June 5-Can’t we all just get along?

*1974 | DETROIT, MICHIGAN – The Oakland A’s came out swinging on this date in 1974, before the game against the Detroit Tigers. A’s teammates Reggie Jackson and Billy North got into a fight in the visitors’ clubhouse. It was broken up by teammates Vida Blue and John “Blue Moon” Odom, who had their own scuffle two years earlier.

A few minutes after the first fight was broken up Jackson and North came to blows again. This time Jackson banged his shoulder, but teammate catcher Ray Fosse playing peacemaker crushed a disc in his neck that virtually ended his season.

Jackson and North were close friends at one time, but according to the Oakland Tribune they had not spoken in a month. Apparently they had something to say to each other that day.

The ’74 A’s weren’t exactly the picture of harmony, still they went on to win their third straight World Series; a feat no team not named Yankees has ever done.

Oakland players have said they played so well as a team because of their common dislike for micromanaging owner Charles Finley. Oh, by the way, the A’s beat the Tigers that day 9-1.

Contributing sources:
Oakland Tribune, June 6, 1974
Consecutive World Series winners
World Series winners

MAY 5 – “Designated runner” experiment fails

1975 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – One of owner Charlie Finley’s novel ideas was put to rest on this date in 1975. Finley’s Oakland A’s released Herb Washington after a loss to the Chicago White Sox. Washington was a speedster put on the team for one purpose – to run.

He appeared in 104 games as a “designated runner, stealing 31 bases in 48 attempts, and scoring 33 runs. He had no at bats, no hits, no runs batted in and a fielding percentage of .000 because the former college sprinter never played in the field.

Herbert Lee Washington was born in Belzoni, Mississippi in 1951. He was a four-time all-American sprinter at Michigan State University. He tied or broke the world record in the 50 and 60-yard dashes several times.

Having a “designated runner” was just one of maverick Charlie Finley’s experiments. There were many. Some became as common as the 108 stitches on a baseball. Some didn’t work at all.

  • White shoes (worked). Before Finley shoes were either black or …. black. Now they are every color of the rainbow.
  • Two-tone uniforms (worked). Before Finley uniforms were either white (for home) or gray (for visitors. shoes were either black or …. black.
  • Orange baseballs (didn’t work)
  • Fired second baseman Mike Andrews for making two errors in a World Series game. (didn’t work, the Commissioner ordered Andrews re-instated almost immediately)
  • Released all his high priced stars in 1976 (initially didn’t work, but common practice now)
  • Pushed for designated hitter (worked)
  • Designated runner (hasn’t been tried since)

CONTRIBUTING:
Herb Washington
Charlie Finley

Jan 6, 1964 – Louisville A’s?

FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY  Kansas City A’s owner Charlie Finley signed a contract with the State of Kentucky on this day in baseball history to move the franchise to Louisville starting with the 1965 season. All that was left to consummate the move was the approval of six of the other 19 owners.

The A’s never called Louisville home, so you know how that turned out.

Most of the owners kept their thoughts to themselves, but the General Manager of the Cincinnati Reds, the franchise closest to Louisville, didn’t have a problem with the planned move.

Charlie Finley was the type of renegade owner who didn’t play well with others. He was not well liked by many of his colleagues. Chicago White Sox owner Arthur Allyn didn’t mince words, “Finley is a fool and his action is inexcusable. He has no right whatsoever to attempt such a move. He has an obligation to the people of Kansas City and he had better make it good. I don’t have to tell you how the White Sox will vote on the matter.”

Most of the owners kept their thoughts to themselves, but the General Manager of the Cincinnati Reds, the franchise closest to Louisville, didn’t have a problem with the planned move. Bill DeWitt thought another major-league franchise 110 miles away from Cincinnati would increase the fan base for everyone.

As it turned out, the move to Louisville was not approved, so it never happened. The A’s, who originated in Philadelphia, moved to Oakland in 1967 and have been there since.

Contributing Sources:
“Vagabond A’s led colorful past lives in Philadelphia, Kansas City,“ Aug 16, 2016 by Thomas Neumann, ESPN.com
Associated Press, January 7, 1964
A’s history