HTP Exclusive! Carl Finley Belongs In Oakland Athletics Hall of Fame, Daughter Nancy Writes
ALSO: BASEBALL IS FERTILE GROUND FOR APRIL FOOL'S DAY
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Last weekend’s column condemning continuation of the “ghost runner” rule drew considerable reader comment. Here’s one letter that was sent to email@example.com and forwarded to Here’s The Pitch:
So what was supposed to be a one-year Covid induced rule placing the runner on second base has turned into Year 3.
You just don't get what make baseball special.
Baseball does not have many 'marathon' games. Rarely does a game go more than 12 innings. But when it does, fans remember it because of its rarity.
Why are you using gimmicks to hasten the end of games? Let it go to its logical conclusion without adding any artificial means.
Now I get why MLB has put this insidious rule into effect:
Managers don't have to be concerned about pitchers usage
Media wants to make their deadlines and go home
BEER SALES conclude at the END OF THE 7th INNING
At least be honest about the rule. Don't go saying it's to keep players healthy. That insults all baseball fans.
Don't turn this into Sunday morning Softball.
Happy to discuss.
More baseball is always a good thing … and yes, “the Manfred Man” is a travesty.
Did you know…
Newly-signed Anibal Sanchez took the brunt of the Cardinals’ 29-8 exhibition win in West Palm Beach against Washington Wednesday but his bullpen wasn’t much better . . .
This year’s Shortstop Sweepstakes could be repeated in the next free agent season, when the list of availables could include Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson, Xander Bogaets, and Andrelton Simmons, among others . . .
In the last three 162-game seasons, the AL East champ has gone 51-6 against the Orioles . . .
Even with the latest lockout, the players are still one up on the owners with five strikes as opposed to four lockouts . . .
Since 2013, the Dodgers have topped the Competitive Balance Tax threshold eight times, with more than $150 million in penalties – less than half the total penalties accrued by the Yankees . .
Aaron Hicks hasn’t played in more than 59 games since 2018 but was healthy during the 60-game season of 2020 and is expected to be the starting center-fielder for the Yankees this season . . .
At age 38, lifetime Yankee Brett Gardner would be the perfect place-holder for the World Champion Braves, whose center-fielder of the future, Michael Harris, is about a year away . . .
Tickets to the 1967 Houston Baseball Dinner featuring Dizzy Dean cost $12.50 a head.
Wake Up, Oakland A’s: Put Carl Finley In Your Hall of Fame on Aug. 22
By Nancy Finley
[Nancy Finley, daughter of Carl Finley and second cousin of Charlie, has been running a one-woman campaign to get the Oakland Athletics to add her dad to their Hall of Fame, hopefully in time for their Aug. 22 induction ceremonies this year. She makes a compelling case in this article, written exclusively for Here’s The Pitch.]
Carl Finley, my father, had just received a promotion to high school principal at Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas when his cousin, Charles O. Finley, asked him late in 1961 to join him in running his new team, the Kansas City Athletics.
After considering the offer for six months, Dad joined the Kansas City Athletics and worked in their front office from June 1962-1967.
According to one former Thomas Jefferson High student in the Class of 1962, "Carl never gave a reason for his resignation.”
Dad probably thought he would need to return to education some time in the future. Neither Dad or Charlie had any experience in MLB administration or had played baseball professionally.
Who could imagine the team would reach the American League playoffs nine years later, in 1971?
Unlike his boisterous, outspoken cousin, Carl preferred to hang back and observe. Charlie appreciated Carl's business acumen, having attended Law School and earned a Master's in Journalism.
Carl handled every executive position for the Oakland A's from 1968-1980, even serving as vice president and counselor for Walter Haas, Jr. (who bought the team from Charlie Finley) from January 1981 until his full-time retirement in March 1984.
Charlie did not have a four-year college degree. As a result, Charlie trusted Carl the most, yet would also be jealous of Carl's education.
Carl Finley was needed by Charlie O. Finley to make him feel like someone “had his back.”
The agreement between Carl and Charlie was that Carl would physically reside where the team was based.
Carl kept everything running at the Oakland Coliseum. Weekdays started at 8am in Carl Finley's office.
For home games, Carl was the executive who signed off on the roster.
I remember after one night game, Dad and I just walked into our apartment when the phone rang. It was the Coliseum alarm company to ask Dad how to turn the alarm off. Dad had to drive back to the coliseum. It was about midnight by that time. I could not go to bed until Dad returned home. I wondered why everyone was so dependent on Dad.
Dad never quit the team when it was in Kansas City. But he quit the Oakland A’s out of frustration in 1971 and again in January 1974. I remember that well. I don’t know exactly how many times Dad quit.
Charlie seemed manic at times and Dad said it was nearly impossible to make him listen. But even when he quit, Dad planned to stay in the area knowing Charlie would need him again soon. Dad did that to get Charlie's attention and it usually woke Charlie up for awhile.
When Charlie’s wife filed for divorce at the end of 1974, Charlie had a new appreciation for Dad. Then Charlie wound up on the cover of TIME Magazine in 1975 and he invited me to socialize when he was in town. But he was estranged from his own adult children. Dad added cousin Charlie, Jr. to the staff to make us appear larger but I never saw him at the Coliseum at that time.
Charlie finally listened to Dad a lot more. That was how things were supposed to be when Dad joined the team in 1962.
If Dad, a Texas native, had decided to walk away and move us back to the Midwest, Charlie couldn’t have stopped him. Dad received offers from other major-league teams and even from the American League headquarters in New York.
Charlie did not have the time to run both his insurance business and the team. But Dad was able to multi-task in an unbelievable way. Dad often said he could get a task done faster than showing someone else the job.
Charlie could tell others what to do at a fast ace but I’m not sure Charlie moved as fast as he gave orders.
If Dad had chosen to walk away in the late ‘70s, Oakland might not have had a team after 1979 or 1980. Marvin Davis of Denver made Dad a very good offer for the team in 1977. Charlie would be a player consultant and Dad would run the administration, as he did in Oakland. I was surprised when Oakland stopped that move through the courts. Most of the time, Oakland is not very ‘awake.’
One man who did walk away was our top broadcaster, Monte Moore. He wanted to start a radio station in Porterville, CA, where he lived, but asked Dad not to tell Charlie why he was leaving. I never understood why Monte made that a secret and I don’t think he should have asked that of Dad.
In the meantime, Dad brought some other people into the front office.
That is how Stanley Burrell, then called Hammer but later known as rapper M.C. Hammer, was hired. Hammer kept asking Dad if he could help in some way.
Dad needed a “runner” inside the Coliseum who could enter the player's locker rooms. I was unable to fill that role but Hammer was perfect.
Hammer, then about 11 years old, hung around the Coliseum since it was close to his neighborhood.
Dad always parked near the front office entrance. Vehicles were not allowed to park there as it was reserved just for Dad. That made it easy for Dad to come and go.
Hammer and friends hung around the entrance. Dad said he noticed how polite Hammer was. As a former school principal, Dad was good at reading teenagers.
Hammer would greet dad and always ask if there was anything he could do to help. Hammer said he could do so much for dad. Dad realized he could use a runner.
That would be me — sometimes. There were places I could not enter in the coliseum, like the clubhouse, but Hammer could.
Dad told Charlie he needed that help so Charlie flew to Oakland to meet Hammer.
Dad told Hammer in advance where to be when Dad drove to the Coliseum after picking Charlie up at the airport.
Impressed with Hammer’s maturity and manners, Charlie hired Hammer on the spot to help Dad.
But things were not always smooth sailing for the cousins who ran the club.
The front office could be a depressing place to work, especially in the late 1970s.
In 1977, when we lost players after the advent of free agency, we had to rebuild the team. We even lost our mascot, a Missouri mule named Charlie O, to pneumonia in December. I will always remember 1977 being a dark time.
But I liked our new players and felt like things were coming together nicely. The problem was financial. The team was subsidized by Charlie's insurance company when things were tight but the insurance company was downsizing in the late ‘70s.
Dad was informed the team should be sold because we did not have the support of local fans. Dad convinced Charlie that is what needed to happen and Charlie finally agreed.
In March 1979, we were sued by the city, county and Coliseum. The reason they gave was insufficient marketing on our part.
With Charlie boycotting owners meetings in protest of free agency, Carl started attending owners’ meetings alone starting in 1975. That allowed Dad to develop a good relationship with other owners.
In the meantime, our front office was still unfinished. Dad kept waiting for the city to fulfill its promises.
To complete the team rebuilding, at the 1979 MLB Winter Meetings, Dad negotiated to hire Billy Martin for the 1980 season. I remember how excited Dad was to have Billy, who was a personal friend.
Dad also wanted to find a local buyer who would keep the team in Oakland. He contacted another friend, Cornell Maier, CEO of Kaiser Steel. Maier then found and convinced the Haas family to purchase the team.
The summer of 1980 is when Dad started thinning the front office even more than it had been. Boxes were everywhere. Most of the furniture was sent to Charlie, or Dad kept it.
I now have the last remaining piece of furniture from that time — a black leather chair with foot-stool. A furniture repair person once commented that was the finest piece of leather he'd ever seen.
The leather chair started in our Oakland Penthouse in 1968 until it was moved to the conference room in the Coliseum front office. I think often of who sat in that chair waiting to throw the first pitch: Clint Eastwood, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and George C. Scott come to mind.
By the summer of 1980, the front office was bare bones.
But by November, the team’s sale to the Haas family was finalized.
Walter Haas, Jr. asked Dad to remain in his current position of vice president and act as a counselor to his son, Wally Haas, and son-in-law, Roy Eisenhardt.
I wanted to mention that in the off-season, Dad taught Business Law at Laney Junior College. Dad enjoyed teaching; he had a lifetime teaching credential in the State of California.
Dad liked to stay busy — and he certainly did during his long and meritorius career in the front office of the Oakland A’s. Now it’s time for the team to recognize his service by placing him in their Hall of Fame.
Happy April Fools Day ~ Baseball Has More Than Its Share
By Dan Schlossberg
Today is April 1, which would have been the birthday of Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro if he were still with us.
Instead, we can dwell on the date’s other significance: April Fools’ Day.
Traditionally, it’s a time for pranks, pratfalls, half-truths, fibs, and Little White Lies.
Baseball is the perfect place to practice.
The rumor mill, always abuzz a week before Opening Day, churns with extra expectancy on April 1. Fans can fish up stories about everything from franchise shifts to free agents, not to mention managerial longevity, pending player retirements, future Hall of Fame elections, realignment, and even new regulations.
Here are some things that are true about Baseball 2022 but could qualify as April Tom Foolery:
Pelted with criticism over inter-league play, unbalanced schedules, and travel time and expenses, Major League Baseball announced that each of the teams would play all of its opponents (more inter-league and less intra-divisional games) next year
With traditionalists railing against the “ghost runner” (a designated runner on second to start every extra inning), MLB decided to keep the Covid-era rule, ostensibly in an effort to speed up games
Obsessed with pace of play and game times, the decision-makers defeated the purpose by returning double-headers to two nine-inning games (more in ties)
The St. Louis Cardinals, guided by the youngest and most inexperienced manager in the majors, became an Old Age Home by adding erstwhile hero Albert Pujols to a team that already had 40-somethings Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina
Seeking to escape the cellar, the Washington Nationals decided it would be a good investment to spend $15 million on 42-year-old free agent Nelson Cruz
After firing a Jayce (manager Tingler), the Padres added a Thrayce (Thompson)
With Face of the Franchise Freddie Freeman still a free agent, the Atlanta Braves traded for fellow first baseman Matt Olson and signed him for more money than Freeman eventually got from the Los Angeles Dodgers
Outspoken against excessive travel, baseball continued scheduling one-game series in Williamsport, PA (Little League Classic) and Dyersville, Iowa (Field of Dreams Game) and promised more games in London, Paris, and other locales too distant and too expensive for American fans to reach
Max Scherzer, given a contract that pays him a record $43.3 million per year, not only voted against accepting the final offer from owners but convinced the seven other members of the union’s executive board to follow his lead
One of the chief union gripes concerned per diem meal money — even though no player will ever go hungry with minimum salaries up to $700,000
Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and other star pitchers will be subjugated to even tougher inspections from umpires searching for sticky substances that stimulate spin on baseballs
Writers continue to spell resin bag with an “o”
Interruptions for challenges that require instant replay will again take more time and prove more boring than the old method of managers going nose-to-nose with umpires
The Minnesota Twins are celebrating the surprise signing of star shortstop Carlos Correa to a three-year pact for $100 million whije forgetting his deal contains opt-outs after each of the first two years
The Mets and Yankees dodge a bullet when New York Mayor Eric Adams, an unabashed Mets fan, exempts athletes and performers from the city’s mandate against unvaccinated workers but still face a ban from playing in Toronto.
Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ loves April Fool’s Day and all who fall victim to its wiles. He covers the game for USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Latino Sports, forbes.com, and more. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“You can win the offseason or lose the offseason, whatever the perception may be, but in the end, we want to be the last team standing in October.”
—Yankees manager Aaron Boone
No AL Central team has even won a playoff series since Cleveland went all the way to the World Series in 2016 . . .
Defending AL Central champ Chicago won the division by 13 games last year but lost lefty starter Carlos Rodon to San Francisco via free agency . . .
Money-conscious Cleveland wanted Jesse Winker, the slugging outfielder Cincinnati swapped to Seattle, but wouldn’t take on the contract of third baseman Eugenio Suarez, sent to the M’s in the same swap . . .
That three-year, $36 million deal Jorge Soler received from Miami contains opt-outs after each of the first two years so he can test free agency again this fall . . .
Look for the Los Angeles Angels to try Justin Upton at first base for the first time in his career as a way to preserve his injury-prone, 34-year-old body.
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [email@example.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [firstname.lastname@example.org] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [email@example.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.