Charlie Finley: The Outrageous Story of Baseball's Super Showman

Overview

Before the "Bronx Zoo" of George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin, there were the Oakland Athletics of the early 1970s, one of the most successful, most colorful—and most chaotic—baseball teams of all time. They were all of those things because of Charlie Finley. Not only the A's owner, he was also the general manager, personally assembling his team, deciding his players' salaries, and making player moves during the season—a level of involvement no other owner, not even ...

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Charlie Finley: The Outrageous Story of Baseball's Super Showman

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Overview

Before the "Bronx Zoo" of George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin, there were the Oakland Athletics of the early 1970s, one of the most successful, most colorful—and most chaotic—baseball teams of all time. They were all of those things because of Charlie Finley. Not only the A's owner, he was also the general manager, personally assembling his team, deciding his players' salaries, and making player moves during the season—a level of involvement no other owner, not even Steinbrenner, engaged in.

Drawing on interviews with dozens of Finley's players, family members, and colleagues, G. Michael Green and Roger D. Launius present "Baseball's Super Showman" (Time magazine's description of Finley on the cover of an August 1975 issue) in all his contradictions: generous yet vengeful, inventive yet destructive. The stories surrounding him are as colorful as the life he led, the chronicle of which fills an important gap in baseball's literature.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Two aerospace researchers examine the labyrinthine life of one of baseball's most notorious owners, displaying both revulsion and grudging respect for their subject. NASA senior planner Green and Smithsonian Air and Space Museum senior curator Launius do a creditable job pinning down both the mundane and the extraterrestrial aspects of Charles Oscar Finley's remarkable rise. From his humble roots in Gary, Ind., Finley ascended to become owner of the Oakland Athletics in the early '70s, a team that won three consecutive World Series and featured Vida Blue, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter and other All-Stars and future Hall-of-Famers. Born in 1918, Finley moved to Chicago for college, then entered the insurance industry and ignited the boom-or-bust pattern that zigzagged across his entire career. After finding great financial success by insuring physicians, Finley sought to buy a baseball franchise and found a failing one in Kansas City, where all his vagaries, innovations, insecurities, weaknesses, strengths and irascibility exploded like post-game fireworks into the Kansas sky. He hired, harassed, fired and even traded managers with stunning suddenness, befriended then alienated players, fought with the press, experimented with myriad marketing promotions and began lobbying for changes in the sport, including the designated hitter, night World Series games and interleague play. Thinking Oakland would be a lucrative baseball market, he moved his team there in 1968. He was wrong. Even in their championship seasons, the A's could not draw a million fans. Finley's fall ensued, caused by a complicated and ruinous divorce, losing battles with emerging free agency, mutual animosity with commissioner Bowie Kuhn, mismanagement and a kind of regal recklessness. Most readers will agree with the authors' final assessment that Finley was an innovative, infuriating jackass whose braying was sometimes sensible, even wise. Appearances in Washington, D.C., and Oakland, Calif.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802717450
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 7/6/2010
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,420,711
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

G. Michael Green and Roger Launius are members of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research. When not indulging their baseball passions, Green is a senior planner at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Washington, D.C., while Launius is senior curator in the Division of Space History at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Strong Book on Charlie O

    Overall, a good book on Charlie Finley, his ownership of the Swingin A's and the team's core ultimately breaking up through free agency and bitterness toward Finley. The book pales slightly compared to Bill Madden's "Steinbrenner," but then again, Finley paled somewhat in outrageousness with The Boss. If you're a baseball fan, particularly if you were a fan in the 1970s, you will enjoy the trip down memory lane. If you are an A's fan, I'm sure this is a home run.

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