Baseball Magazine

Nancy Finley Talks About the Oakland A’s Dynasty of the 70’s.

By Gary
homer

Homer Simpson’s favorite team of all time–the ’74 Oakland A’s.

Charles O. Finley. Genius. Rabble-Rouser. Inventor. Millionaire. Cheapskate. Many things have been said about the man who was the principle owner of the Oakland Athletics during their World Series championships of 1972, 1973 and 1974, yet one thing is missing in this man’s resume– The Hall of Fame.

 Finley couldn’t do all this winning alone. He needed his cousin, Carl, to help him out. Carl was the G.M., the Vice President of Operations and the steady hand behind these championship teams. I recently interviewed Carl’s daughter, Nancy, who is writing a book of her own on the subject. Nancy also has an amazing website that you should check out: http://morganking.com/Athletics/athletics_history.htmlI sincerely hope you guys enjoy this one…I know I did.1.) Your father was the acting GM during the Athletics dynasty years. What past experiences made him successful and were his transactions based on money, admiration for certain players or just gut feelings? Yes, dad, Carl A. Finley, was GM of the A’s from the first 1968  (in Oakland) season through 1980.  For the 1981 season until retirement, dad’s sole title was V.P. During our ‘Era’, dad was in a position of many titles. When dad accepted Charlie’s offer to join the team in Kansas City, mid to late 1962, he was made a minority owner.  This was the only way Charlie could convince dad to leave his position as a Dallas, TX, High School Principal. A little about dad’s background. Dad was born in Dallas, TX, 1924, and received his Bachelor’s from SMU (Dallas, TX) in History.  Dad’s part-time job in college was as a Dallas Juvenile Probation Officer. Dad attended SMU School of Law.  Soon after, dad decided he wanted a career in higher education.  Dad completed his M.A. in Journalism.

Dad’s goal was to work in the Texas State Dept. of Education.

Carl B&am

Carl Finley.

Dad and Charlie were partners with the team.   Dad ran the team on-site in Oakland.  Charlie worked at his Chicago insurance office most of the time.   Dad and Charlie made the A’s what they became in 1970-1971.  I don’t believe one could do the same without the other.   I discuss my beliefs about this further in my book. Dad was the “Keyser Soze” (movie The Usual Suspects), in the duo.  Dad preferred to remain in the background.  Very early every morning, (because of the two hour time difference) Charlie called our residence to brainstorm with dad.  I overheard dad and Charlie discussing new ideas for the team.   I overheard discussions about young MLB players with potential. Dad had a very good ‘gut’ instinct about others.  It seemed like Charlie had ‘esp’ when it came to reading other people.  This is especially the case with player potential. 2.) Take us back a little bit and talk about the day your uncle took the photo for the cover of Time Magazine, and didn’t you help out in some way?

Regarding Charlie’s 1975 TIME magazine cover shoot.

I remember dad telling me Charlie called to say TIME asked him to pose for a cover shoot.  We were very excited.  The shoot would be in Oakland, near the airport. Dad and Charlie discussed the background.  They decided it would have our white and orange balls.  The week prior to this shoot, I
aaa
helped glue white and orange baseballs to a large board that would be the background. 3.) What is the truth behind the Mike Andrews affair? (For readers that don’t know the story I’ll let Wikipedia take it from here: In the second game of the 1973 World Series between the Oakland A’s and the New York Mets, Andrews committed two errors in a four-run twelfth inning, leading to a Mets’ victory. Oakland owner Charlie Finley forced him to sign a false affidavit saying he was disabled, thus making him ineligible to play for the rest of the series. Andrews’ teammates and manager Dick Williams rallied to Andrews’s defense. Finally, commissioner Bowie Kuhn forced Finley to reinstate Andrews for Game 4. He entered Game 4 in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter to a standing ovation from sympathetic Mets fans. He promptly grounded out, and Finley ordered him benched for the remainder of the Series. Andrews never played another major league game, playing baseball in Japan in 1975 before retiring.) The truth about the Mike Andrews affair. I have devoted an entire Chapter to this event.  At the time, I had just started Middle school, and remember the uproar.  I was at the 1973 game when this occurred.  I witnessed and felt it with the rest of us. My father kept documents about this event.  I felt I should tell the rest of the story.  What I have was not in the press. I believe this additional information should be made available, because of what is out there to date. It will then be up to the reader to decide.
73WS-GM1ticket
4.)You must have met many players through the years, can you talk a bit about your favorites?My favorite players are Jim ‘Catfish’ Hunter, Sal Bando, Dick Green, Campy and Vida Blue.  The first three were with us in Kansas City.  They are more like more old neighbors.  Vida is plain ‘cool’.5.) What is the real reason behind the gold and green uniforms? The real reason for the Green & Gold?  Charlie was a marketing genius; however, I have discovered something else. It has to do with a genetics. 6.) I read somewhere that your Uncle (Charlie O.) would fire an employee and that your Dad would quietly re-hire them. Can you give us a little insight concerning this rumor?  Oh yes.  For example, during an A’s Daylight Savings weekend home game, dad and I arrived at the coliseum early on a Sunday morning.  Our phones were supposed to be answered starting at 9am.  Our switchboard operator had not arrived by 9:00am.  Charlie started to call the main line at 9:00am.  When there wasn’t any answer, Charlie kept calling.  Dad told me I should open the switchboard, which I was trained to do.  I put Charlie through to dad.   Charlie told dad to fire the the switchboard operator, since she wasn’t in on time. The switchboard operator came running in at about 9:30am.  She told dad she forgot to re-set her clocks for Daylight Savings.  Her clocks showed the wrong time.  Dad appreciated her honesty.  Dad did not fire her.  Charlie never asked if this operator was actually fired.  Charlie needed dad to keep track of our front office. This is just one of many stories.
NancyMarcysmall

Nancy, (R) taking a ride on Charlie ‘O the mule (circa 1975-76).

7.) What mistake was made on the 1974 World Series trophy?

For this 1974 World Series trophy, it is similar to coin or paper currency having a slight difference, that is not found on any other trophy for the same year.  This is what dad was told by a collector.  There is a small difference on this 1974 W.S. trophy that one doesn’t see at first.  This is rare, although, it has happened on some other collectibles.  I’ve thought about doing a book on a ‘where’s Waldo’ for MLB collectibles with these differences. 8.) I am a proponent of your uncle being in the HOF and think it’s a travesty that he isn’t. What are your feelings…and does it have anything to do with him being rebellious towards the other owners at the time? The HOF!  Yes!  For Charlie and dad.  Dad should be in the MLB Executive Category.  Both should be in the HOF by now.   In 2011, I found the HOF with three categories.  These are: #1 1946 and Prior  (I do not have the name of this Era with me) #2 1947-1972  Golden Era Committee #3  1973- Present  Expansion Era Committee Our 1972, 1973 & 1974 Dynasty years are split down the middle with these HOF time periods. I have written a letter to the HOF, requesting dad and Charlie be considered for a nomination for ‘both’ committees. I am glad I have a chance to remind readers about the two HOF committees. Charlie and dad should definitely have nominations in the HOF.  I’ve wondered if Charlie’s rebellious streak is a reason.  Then, I think of how many of our ideas are still in practice today. When dad retired, he received an engraved, gold plated, lifetime AL Coliseum pass.  I have been informed this pass is considered the pinnacle of appreciation. 9.) What sort of relationship to do have with the Athletics today?Conflicted.

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