Finley #3

This tape is comprised partly of b-roll and partly of an interview with venerable Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley. In the first half, Finley gives a tour of his "press box", which is situated at the very top of his barn-turned-house in LaPorte, Indiana. The second half is an interview with Finley where he gives a bit of background on his adolescence and discusses his ascendance career-wise from steel mill worker to the owner of a championship baseball team.

00:00Copy video clip URL The camera pulls focus as Charlie Finley does a take of walking up into the press box in his house. “We now come up to the only press box in the United States that I call a real press box.” He then displays the ways in which it is possible to see all 4 views of the countryside from the press box windows, giving history on the various houses that surround him. Finley proceeds to show off all of the press box’s bells and whistles, pointing out the television, radio and refrigerator. He goes on to say that the press box will comfortably fit 12 people inside.

02:12Copy video clip URL Finley describes the function of the press box as he sees it, stating that its primary purpose is for watching baseball games and having small get-togethers.

03:00Copy video clip URL Finley explains that the rope situated in the middle of the press box is attached to a large bell imported from Holland that rings every hour on the hour. He then demonstrates by pulling on the rope and ringing the bell.

03:30Copy video clip URL Finley points to an antique telephone on the table near the press box.

03:40Copy video clip URL Close on the antique telephone.

03:58Copy video clip URL “It’s very surprising how one can come up here in this press box and look around the countryside in any kind of weather, and really meditate . . . this room, as I indicated before, serves many purposes.” When asked whether he is the type of person that is able sit still for long periods of time, Finley replies, “No longer than I have to.”

04:49Copy video clip URL Finley comments on the windows near the top of the press box, saying that they work electrically while some work manually.

05:11Copy video clip URL Finley spots a group of horses running outside. The camera adjusts exposure and is able to capture the horses grazing.

05:55Copy video clip URL Finley talks about the tennis courts in his yard, saying that he plays occasionally, as it is “good exercise to swing that racket.”

06:36Copy video clip URL Cut to a low angle perspective shot of walking up the spiral staircase to the press box room. The camera stops under Finley, who is holding a coffee mug in his hand.

07:03Copy video clip URL Cut to a close up of the sign on Finley’s bar in his stage room, which reads “Charlie O’s Bar.” This is followed by a close up shot of the bar itself and an exterior shot of the bar next to the copper stove.

07:44Copy video clip URL Shot of the landscape painting depicting a large ranch, to which Finley alluded earlier. The shot begins with a medium shot of the whole painting, then moves into a close up on a house in the top left corner of the painting and pans over to a house on the rightmost side, followed by a zoom out to reveal the entire painting once again.

09:05Copy video clip URL Seated in front of a birdcage, Finley begins answering questions about his life and career. He begins by speaking about his childhood and growing up with his father, who worked 47 years in the steel mills for US Steel in Gary, Indiana. Finley then explains that he followed in his father’s footsteps by working in the steel mill himself for 5 years, beginning at the age of 18. “That’s where I learned how to work,” he says. He recalls making $3.76 per day when he first started, working his way up to $8.40 per day when he left. Finley goes on to talk about how he was recruited for the steel mill when a scout saw him play baseball.

11:10Copy video clip URL When asked whether he belonged to a union while working at the steel mill, Finley states that he did. His time as a union member informed his attitude later in life toward the Baseball Union for players on his team. “I understood what the union meant.”

12:31Copy video clip URL Finley recounts his childhood days, which he describes as, “Very strict, if not rough.” His father, he explains, a product of a life of labor in the steel mills, knew only how to teach his children his own work ethic. He states that he has a brother, who is now deceased, and a sister, who lives in California, going on to say that overall, his boyhood days were “very enjoyable,” despite not having the advantages that modern children enjoy. “We always had plenty to eat, the roof didn’t leak, and I had pants every once in a while that had a patch in them, but outside of that, I was extremely happy coming up.”

13:50Copy video clip URL Finley talks about his decision to cease following in his father’s footsteps and to follow his own path. After working in the steel mills for five years, he says, he began work in LaPorte, Indiana at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant, where he remained for another 5 years. Following this, Finley went into the insurance business as a part time job, which he claims to have found so enjoyable, he decided to pursue it on an exclusive basis after the end of WWII. Finley then talks about how after a year in the insurance business, he had contracted an advanced case of Pneumonic Tuberculosis.

15:14Copy video clip URL Finley discusses the 27 months he spent in the sanitarium, which he describes as a “blessing in disguise.” Finley says that he used his 27 months in the facility as time to think of new ideas for the insurance business. After he was released from the sanitarium, the ideas he came up with were put into effect, making him a large sum of money in the process. Not knowing what to do with the money, Finley states that he decided to buy “the worst team in baseball” at the time, the Kansas City A’s.

16:10Copy video clip URL Finley explains that owning a baseball team was an idea that had always been on his mind. He attributes his success as an owner to his time playing baseball throughout his life, which allowed him to better connect with the players. “It was through a formula of sweat and sacrifice that the players and myself worked together.” Finley proceeds to talk about how the Kansas City A’s won the first of their 5 consecutive division championships in 1961, one year after he had taken over as owner, also mentioning that 1972 was the year the team had won their first of 3 consecutive World Championships.

17:34Copy video clip URL Finley explains why he refers to his 27 months in the TB sanitarium as a “blessing in disguise” and how they allowed for him to make enough money to buy the Kansas City A’s. Talking with his doctors, he claims, is how he came up with the idea of creating group insurance for professionals, the first contract of which he wrote for the Lake County, Indiana Medical Society. “Before I knew it, I had written a contract for the entire American Medical Association.” The tape cuts off before Finley has a chance to answer a question about whether he takes as much pride in his contributions to group insurance as he does as a team owner.

19:37Copy video clip URL End of tape.

 

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