Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Charlie Finley, 77, Dies

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Charlie Finley, 77, Dies

Article excerpt

Flamboyant, cantankerous, iconoclastic Charlie O. Finley, who created the Oakland Athletics' team that won three consecutive World Series and then presided over the collapse that nearly ruined the franchise, died Monday (Feb. 19, 1996) in a Chicago hospital. He was 77.

Mr. Finley, who lived on a farm in LaPorte, Ind., had been battling vascular and heart problems for years. He had been hospitalized for two weeks. His sons, Martin and David, along with their wives, were at his side.

"Heaven won't be the same with Mr. Finley," said Vida Blue, one of his former star pitchers.

Neither was baseball, which eventually incorporated some of his concepts - such as the designated hitter and night World Series games.

As a team owner, Mr. Finley could seem larger than life and incredibly small and petty. He was a master promoter - especially of himself - a genius at spotting talent and a meddling tightwad who eventually alienated many who worked for him.

"It wouldn't be beyond him to spend $3 to $4 on a phone call to complain about a $7 laundry bill," recalled A's equipment manager Steve Vucinich, who worked for Finley for 14 years. "He'd look at the boxscore and see that 14 players played and wonder why there were 18 dirty uniforms."

Mr. Finley should be remembered for putting together the last baseball franchise to win three consecutive World Series, but his legacy probably will be his outrageous stunts, from the small mechanical bunny that popped out of the ground to deliver fresh baseballs to the home plate umpire, to the team mascot mule that he named "Charlie O" after himself. Mr. Finley once rode the mule in Times Square in New York City.

But it should be remembered that it was Mr. Finley who maneuvered cleverly to turn a sad-sack franchise into a baseball powerhouse after he moved it from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968. The 1972-74 A's are still the last team to win three consecutive World Series.

Mr. Finley decked his team out in bright uniforms in the colors "kelly green, wedding gown white and California gold." On their feet were white spikes, an incredibly flashy touch at the time, which Mr. …

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