Looks like Charlie “O’ has managed to get himself nominated for the Baseball Hall Of Fame. The A’s often eccentric and erratic manager along with 9 other candidates will vie for the coveted honor of being on the Veterans Committee ballot next month.
This is considered quite an honor for both the team and management, even though Finley was not the most well liked person by both fans, players, other teams and even politicians. This characterization of him however did not stop him from being one of the most successful managers in A’s history. During his tenure he was able to lead the team to five straight division titles (1971-75) as well as three consecutive World Series (1972-74).
Finley started as manager with the Kansas City A’s when he left his lucrative disability insurance job, a job that would make him millions of dollars before he was 40 years old. When he was not making money he was playing on a semi-pro team, he was always very active in sports and when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis it forced him to stop playing the game that he loved.
Because he could not play, Finley took all of his money and invested in several franchise teams in the 1950′s. However, his most important investment would be the purchasing of the Kansas City Athletics for $1.9 million. At that time the A’s were not the team that we see today, they had a horrible record and because of that Finley focused on bringing his quirkiness to the field. He changed up the uniforms to a bright colored greens and yellows, brought in a mule as the mascot and installed a mechanical rabbit below the field to give balls to the home plate umpire.
It was not until he moved the team to Oakland after some very tumultuous years of where the team was going to make their next home. It turned out to be a good move for Finley and his team, this is when the world got to see the likes of Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter.
With their success however also came criticism between the players and Finley. There were also ongoing rumblings on if the franchise was even going to survive the move to Oakland or if the team was yet again going to pack it’s bags again and move to the likes of either Seattle or Toronto, sound familiar? Plus, with the players the relationships were so severed that Catfish Hunter signed a pretty lofty deal with the Yankees after Finley refused to fulfill a contract stating that Hunter’s salary would be partially allocated in an annuity.
Finley’s days were up with the A’s when he was unable to sustain great players and the many criticisms from the other franchises including from the San Francisco Giants Owner Bob Lurie who wanted the A’s out of the Bay Area so bad that he was willing to give money to the City of Oakland to do so. Not too long after this Finley, who was very ill at the time, sold the team to the Haas family who were themselves millionares in their own right owning the Levi-Strauss Empire.
After the sale Finley lost alot of his money and in 1996 succumbed to heart disease. He was 77 years old.
Regardless of what players and fans thought of Charlie Finley, there are very few people who could say that this team was not a huge power house in the 1970′s, and that was due to the fact that Finley brought in some pretty great players. Perhaps, today’s team should take an example from it’s past players as well as it’s owners.
If you are interested, official voting will take place on December 5. Finley will need a 75 percent approval to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.