Sports Illustrated 1972 file photo: Oakland A’s surround owner Charlie O Finley, from left to right (top) Rollie Fingers, Joe Rudi, Vida Blue, (middle) Reggie Jackson, Charlie O Finley, Gene Tenace, (bottom) Sal Bando, Catfish Hunter, Campy Campaneris
A Chat with Nancy Finley
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
Athletics owner Charlie O Finley was a visionary,a man that knew how to promote the game, he owned and operated the Kansas City and Oakland A’s for 20 years. I met Mr.Finley prior to a game at the Oakland Coliseum a few years after his famous Swinging A’s won three consecutive World Series 1972-74.
Charlie O Finley was a very passionate owner,who brought the colorful uniforms,shoes and other innovations to the game of baseball. Charlie was a winner, and winning three consecutive World Series is a feat only accomplished by another team in the history of major league baseball,the New York Yankees,who on three different occasions won consecutive World Championships (1936-1939) followed by (1949-1953) and from 1998 to 2000 for three more. The Yanks are the undisputed champions with 27 World Series titles.
But there was another very important Finley, not as well known as Charlie.Carl Finley and Carl was always busy not only handling the media but also in charge of promotions,in a small front office,which was mostly members of the family, Carl and others wore many hats.His daughter Nancy,was born into the baseball world with his dad and Charlie.
Nancy share some of her memories. She told me about Joe Dimaggio in 1970 “Joe DiMaggio cooked dinner when he visited dad at 1200 Lakeshore vAenue in Oakland, both were bachelors and had much in common,this was the top floor apartment leased by the team,this was my first home. Later that year we learned we were neighbors with Huey Newton(Black Panthers), he was on the FBI’S 10 Most Wanted at that time. Dad moved me with a girlfriend before the news broke”
Nancy remembers 1971,the first year in the playoffs. “This was Vida Blue’s year, Vida became an overnight sensation with fans. I remember Vida Blue day.I also remember ‘Hot Pants Day’. Our promo item was a bottle of ‘Hot Pants’ perfume to the first 5,000 fans wearing hot pants.We had a ‘Hot Pants’contest on the field.We were still waiting for the front office to be finished by Alameda Co. Alameda Co. kept promising it would be soon”
Mr.Finley was known for his promotions and probably none was more famous than Charlie-O the Mule, the mascot that Mr.Finley used from Kansas City Athletics to the Oakland Athletics from 1965 to 1976.
The mule was named after Charles O Finley. Nancy: “On December 1976,our mascot,Charlie O passed. Dad handled the internment.Dad decided to have Charlie O.interned at the Oakland SPCA and fans could pay respect since this was next door.I remember when dad took me to the SPCA and showed me the wall with Charlie O’s plaque. Dad said Charle O.’s cap,blanket and reigns were with him. During games for 1977 to 1980, we were without our mascot. This took something away in my mind. In 1977, Charlie O mailed dad a “Mule” magazine, and wrote Charlie O. on the front cover. Dad could tell Charlie missed Charlie O.I still have that magazine”
Nancy remembers the A’s bank manager in downtown Oakland had a crush on her dad. According to Nancy, “Dad was well known at this bank and chose this bank for the team:” About the off-season “Dad had his California Junior College Credential for the off season,he taught Business Law at Laney College in the winter”
Carl’s cousin was Charlie O Finley and Nancy learned under those years when the Oakland Athletics were a national story,once in the front cover of Sports Illustrated,very happy moments,winning playoffs and World Series. She also lived under stressful times as she recalls:”On October 1973, I had to be taken out of school because of kidnap threats. When Oakland School Superintendent, Marcus Foster, was assassinated by the SLA, the FBI informed dad Finley was their #1 target.The SLA said they could not locate Finley”
These are just a few of the many stories and memoirs of Nancy Finley. She lived during a very interesting time in baseball and American history and of course about the Swinging A’s from somebody who grew-up inside the game of baseball with the Finley family.Thanks Nancy.
Nancy Finley wrote the book, Finley Ball: How Two Baseball Outsiders Turned the Oakland A’s into a Dynasty and Changed the game forever.
Amaury Pi Gonzalez does News and Commentary podcasts each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com