Finley #2

A segment of a casual Q&A session with venerable former baseball owner Charlie Finley and a group of teenage baseball fans. Answering questions in the living room of his house, Finley tells about the various Commissioners of Major League Baseball that he saw put into power in his time as owner, the changes he would make to the game if he were commissioner, and the fleeting feeling of joy that comes with owning a winning baseball team.

00:00Copy video clip URL Color bars.

00:15Copy video clip URL Charlie Finley begins by talking to an audience member about the various commissioners that Major League Baseball had appointed during his time as owner. Finley attributes his success as an owner to his ability to “rock the boat.”  The first commissioner he tells about is Ford Frick, who was a sports writer before he became commissioner. Following Frick’s death, Finley says that William Eckert, a retired US Army General, was put in charge and lasted only 1 year. After Eckert, Finley grudgingly mentions Bowie Kuhn, who was a former attorney. Finley says that he called Kuhn  ‘No Republic’, and that he tried to have him fired, but the vote was changed the next day. He then goes on to say that his distaste for the Baseball Commissioners was due to the fact that not one of them had any experience in baseball. Illustrating this point, Finley states that following Kuhn was “a guy that you couldn’t even pronounce his name,” Peter Ueberroth, with a background as a travel agent. He summarizes his qualms with the former commissioners by proclaiming his view that “Leadership in any organization . . . filters down from the topNot bottom, up.”

06:25Copy video clip URL Finley answers an audience member’s question about getting approval to move a sports team from one city to another. He explains that when he wanted to move the A’s baseball team, he needed to get approval from the majority of the owners of the league, some of whom didn’t want to give him permission. After being threatened with legal action, Finley claims that the owners eventually gave in. Finley then talks about Raiders owner Al Davis’s decision to have the team play in Los Angeles rather than in Oakland, California.

07:35Copy video clip URL An audience member seated right next to Finley asks about the factors in play that give a person the drive to be the owner of a baseball team. Finley answers by saying that when he bought the A’s in 1961, it was his “pride and joy”, telling about the first time his team had won a World Series, beating the Big Red Machine.  He recalls an emotional story wherein he went into the locker room after the game and found his father, who had attended the game, crying tears of joy for his son.  Finley then proceeds to give his thoughts about the natural mental progression of owning a winning team. “After you win one championship, your desire is sort of satisfied . . . after the second one, it sort of takes the bloom off the roses. Then when you win it the third time in a row, it becomes old hat!” Finley states that after his team had won their third championship in a row, it was only the second time in baseball’s history that such a feat had been had been attained. “I had accomplished more in 1974 than I had ever anticipated accomplishing.”

10:07Copy video clip URL After achieving the seemingly unattainable goal of winning a World Series Championship three times in a row, Finley says that he decided to retire, predicting that player salaries would soon increase exponentially. Finley uses California Angels owner Gene Autry as a case example of  an owner spending millions of dollars on players in order to win a World Series. “He’ll probably be so happy if and when he wins, that he won’t be able to stand it; he just might die.”

10:56Copy video clip URL Another audience member asks Finley a question, this one about whether or not he had read the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated. “Was my picture in it?” Finley jokes. The audience member mentions that the article described the salary structure in regards to baseball, to which Finley predicts that the salary structure in general will decrease and that the undoing of many Major League Baseball teams will be due to astronomical salaries and long-term contracts for players.

12:00Copy video clip URL Finley gestures toward the stained-glass window portrait in his living room, which depicts him wearing a cowboy hat, crouched in a batting stance. The picture, he explains, was from a photo shoot for the cover of Time Magazine in 1975. Though Finley is talking about the stained glass portrait, the camera zooms in on a picture of a bearded man jogging, staring at a female flasher. Finley states that although being on the cover of Time was an immense honor, the biggest honor that he’d recieved in sports was when he was named Sporting News‘s “Man of the Year” in 1971. He then reiterates his previous point that after winning as many Championships as he did, he felt as if he had won everything there was to be won, and retired as owner of the A’s.

13:53Copy video clip URL Finley points to a female audience member and asks if she has a question for him, but she is unable to think of one.

14:19Copy video clip URL A member of the audience asks Finley who his choice would be for commissioner of baseball. He responds by saying that, “The one that I think would be an outstanding commissioner of baseball, you’re looking at him. But I’m not available.”

14:58Copy video clip URL As the camera re-positions, another audience member asks a question, this one regarding whether or not he had proposed any changes in baseball to the higher-ups in his time as owner. Finley replies by telling about how when he had first taken ownership of the A’s in 1961, all of the players wore the same color uniforms and shoes. One of his first acts as owner, he says, was to change the color of his team’s uniform to a brightly-colored green and gold with white shoes. This vibrance of color in uniforms, he says, are now common in baseball.

17:16Copy video clip URL Finley talks about the time that he had bought a pinch runner, Allan Lewis, for the team, who was the difference in a few key games leading up to the team’s Championship victory. Finley goes on to say that baseball is the only sport in which coaches are not allowed to temporarily substitute for a player. He states that this is one of the rules he would change if he were baseball commissioner. He also says that if he were commissioner, he would introduce a game clock into baseball, which he believes would make the game more exciting.

20:04Copy video clip URL The tape cuts to a shot of Finley holding up a green Oakland A’s jacket, talking about the way he introduced the color into the uniform for the team.

20:27Copy video clip URL End of tape.

 

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