Since Mike Green and I published a biography of Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City/Oakland A’s between 1960 and 1980 in the summer of 2010, we have enjoyed the comments of a lot of people who have contacted us with stories about the baseball iconoclast. Here are a couple of the more interesting ones.
One Chicago resident said that he had followed the exploits of Charlie Finley throughout the 1960s and 1970s and had an encounter with him at a White Sox game. “I actually met Finley in the 1970s,” he wrote to Mike Green and me. “He was sitting in the grandstand seats at old Comiskey and I asked him, very politely, to autograph my scorecard. He insisted on knowing my full name so that he could make it out to me personally. We spoke for about ten minutes. He had an overpowering personality and was extremely
gracious.” That type of encounter seemed to happen quite a lot.
A journalist commented to us: “One time, I was doing a story on Rickey Henderson and I called Finley for some quotes. I said, ‘Wh[at] made you sign Rickey Henderson?’ He replied, ‘Speeeed, speeeeed, speeeed, speeed.” He kept getting louder with each word. Then, he hung up the phone. That was it. What a guy.”
But this story takes the cake. One person told us about Finley having white A’s nightgowns made for “his special female friends.” These were long nightgowns with the characteristic “A’s” on them. I wish I had known about this when writing the book.
Finally, we knew that Charlie Finley loved to give people nicknames. He adorned pitcher Jim Hunter with the moniker, “Catfish,” and John Odom with “Blue Moon.” He famously tried to give the nickname “True” to Vida Blue. When we met with Scott Simon for an interview about the book at NPR we heard that he knew Finley when he lived in Chicago, and sure enough, Finley give Scott a nickname too. “Scooter” didn’t stick. I really wish I had met him and received a nickname from him as well.