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Encyclopedia > Charlie Finley

Charles Oscar Finley (February 22, 1918 _ February 19, 1997), Major League Baseball owner, was the flamboyant owner of the Oakland Athletics.


Finley was a semi-pro baseball player in Indiana who had his career cut short in 1946 by a bout with tuberculosis that nearly killed him. Finley then made his fortune in the life-insurance business.


Finley lost a bid for the Athletics, then playing in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1960, then acquired the team within months when the winning bidder died, at a price of $2 million. Finley quickly started to turn the franchise around, refusing to make deals with the New York Yankees and searching for unheralded talent. After being told by manager Ed Lopat about the Yankees' success being attributable to the dimensions of Yankee Stadium, he built the "K.C. Pennant Porch" in right field, which brought the right field fence in Kansas City Municipal Stadium to match Yankee Stadium's dimensions exactly. League officials forced him to move the fences back after two exhibition games. Finley then ordered a white line to be painted on the field at the original "Pennant Porch" distance, and ordered the public address announcer to tell the crowd, "That would have been a home run in Yankee Stadium" whenever a fly ball was hit past that line.


He also started micromanaging the team, ordering players to change their style of play and firing any manager or releasing any player who publicly disagreed with him. He introduced a mascot, Charlie O, a mule, and paraded him about the outfield and even into cocktail parties and hotel lobbies, and into the press room after a large feeding to annoy reporters. When third baseman Sal Bando departed the team as a free agent and was asked if it was difficult to leave the Athletics, Bando responded, "Was it hard to leave the Titanic?" The mule died in 1976, at age 20.


Finley moved his franchise from Kansas City to Oakland, California in 1968 and quickly turned the team into a dynasty, winning three straight World Series from 1972 to 1974 and five straight division titles from 1971 to 1975. A major embarassment for baseball resulted from Finley's actions during the 1973 World Series. Finley forced player Mike Andrews to sign a false affadavit saying he was injured after the reserve infielder committed two consecutive errors in the 12th inning of Oakland 's Game Two loss to the Mets. Other A's and manager Dick Williams rallied to Andrews's defense. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn forced Finley to reinstate the player. Williams resigned after winning the Series, and Finley replaced him with Alvin Dark.


After losing Catfish Hunter to free agency, Finley started dismantling his club, attempting to sell Joe Rudi and Fingers to the Boston Red Sox and Vida Blue to the Yankees. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn voided the deals, saying they were not in the best interests of baseball. Finley was in the process of rebuilding the team again in 1981 when he sold the team to Levi Strauss.


Finley was fond of gimmicks, dressing his players in non-traditional green and gold uniforms and offering his players $300 bonuses to grow moustaches. For star relief pitcher Rollie Fingers, the handlebar moustache he grew for Finley became a trademark. After signing pitchers Jim Hunter and John Odom, he nicknamed them "Catfish" and "Blue Moon", even fabricating boyhood stories about Hunter to give him press appeal. Finley refused to sign then-prospect (and future Hall of Famer) Don Sutton to a contract simply because Sutton didn't have a flashy nickname. He introduced ball girls, orange baseballs, and advocated night games for the World Series to increase fan interest. Finley also was an outspoken advocate of the designated hitter rule, and in 1974, hired a college sprinter named Herb Washington exclusively to pinch run and steal bases.


Finley also owned teams in the National Hockey League and American Basketball Association.


Quote

  • Sweat plus sacrifice equals success.





  Results from FactBites:
 
Charles O. Finley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1615 words)
Finley was a semi-pro baseball player in Indiana who had his career cut short in 1946 by a bout with tuberculosis that nearly killed him.
Finley was in the process of rebuilding the team again in 1981 when he sold the team to Walter A. Haas, Jr.
Finley was fond of gimmicks, dressing his players in non-traditional green and gold uniforms and offering his players $300 bonuses to grow moustaches.
Oakland Seals National Hockey League Club (733 words)
Finley was well-known for his novel marketing ideas, similar in style to Bill Veeck.
Finley practised his unique brand of marketing on the Seals as well, changing their name from the Oakland Seals to the California Golden Seals.
Finley also added the A.B.A.'s Memphis Pros to his stable of teams renaming them the TAMS (for Tennessee, Arkansas & Mississippi), and dressing them in green and gold.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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