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Motley Crew
Steve Rushin
September 06, 1999
The world champion 1974 A's—a rainbow coalition of brawlers, boozers and malcontents—were truly America's team, although most of us were too square to realize it
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September 06, 1999

Motley Crew

The world champion 1974 A's—a rainbow coalition of brawlers, boozers and malcontents—were truly America's team, although most of us were too square to realize it

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The A's won the division by five games over Texas.

As the Baltimore Orioles arrived in Oakland for Game 1 of the playoffs, Hunter was meeting with Finley and baseball officials. Hunter claimed, through his attorney, that Finley had paid him only half of his $100,000 salary in 1974, and that his contract, therefore, was voided. In the meeting the owner grandly produced a check and said, "Jim, here's your money."

"No," replied Hunter. "You pay it like the contract is written—not to me, to the insurance annuity."

"See, Mr. Commissioner, Mr. League President," said Finley, who addressed everyone as Mister. "I tried to pay him and he won't take it." Finley dismissed the commissioner and the other suits and then told Hunter, "Go beat Baltimore. We got to get in the World Series."

"And that was it," recalls Hunter. "He never said another word about my contract. Ain't never said a word. To this day, I wish I had asked him if he meant for me to be the first free agent. I believe he did. He always wanted to be the first in everything."

Almost bored, the A's steamrollered the Orioles in the playoffs. "Mike Cuellar and Ross Grimsley pitched a one-hitter in the final game," says Jackson, "and we beat 'em 2-1. We won the American League pennant, and we didn't even celebrate. We just went to LA. to beat the Dodgers."

They literally couldn't wait to rock some clocks: Fingers and Odom attacked each other in the visitors' clubhouse at Dodger Stadium before the team's workout the day before Game 1. "That fight was my fault," says Hunter. "In Baltimore during the playoffs, Rollie got a phone call that his wife was in Oakland, and her boyfriend and her was packin' up all the furniture and movin' outta the house. Her boyfriend was drivin' Rollie's car. And so Rollie flew home, we beat Baltimore, went to L.A. and there's Rollie and his wife, arm-in-arm. And I told the guys, 'S—-, Rollie and his wife was stayin' in the room next to me and they fought all night long, throwin' s—- at each other, bouncin' off the walls. I can't believe this s—-. Only thing she's here for is the damn World Series money' Blue Moon heard all this. And then Rollie comes walkin' into the clubhouse."

"I can barely remember what happened," demurs Blue Moon.

Hunter can. He remembers Odom greeting Fingers thusly: "Who's leavin' tickets for your wife's boyfriend tonight? You?"

"The clubhouse attendant at Dodger Stadium had been telling me how nervous he was," recalls Bando. "He had heard so much about this team fighting, and I told him, 'Believe me, it's completely blown out of proportion.' At that second, Blue Moon and Rollie go after each other."

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