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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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"Oh, s—-!" says Hunter, seeing it all vividly a quarter-century later. "There they go! Rollie falls down and hits the corner of a locker and splits his head wide open."

"Fingers shoved a shopping cart," says Odom, his recollection refreshed, "and it hit my ankle and turned it."

"I was in the training room," says Dark. "Fosse, who had been injured breaking up that fight in June, came running in and said, 'Skip! Fingers and Odom are fighting, and I'm not getting involved!' "

"I played bridge through the fight," recalls Green. "It didn't matter one single bit."

This was the A's in all their splendor. Finley's seatmate for Game 1 of the World Series was the incumbent Miss California, Lucianne Buchanan. He had asked Richard Nixon, nine weeks removed from office, to throw out the first pitch for Game 4 in Oakland, but the disgraced President "regretfully declined because of health reasons." Hunter's lawyer, Jerry Kapstein, was on the field during batting practice the day before the opener, declaring his client a free agent because Finley had not made those payments to Hunter's insurance annuity—he was free to pitch for the Dodgers in this Series, if he chose to do so. Jackson led off the second inning with a home run, Fingers pitched 4⅓ innings in relief and laughed off the five stitches in his head. "The team record is 15," he told reporters, "held by many."

With the A's leading by a run with two out in the ninth, Dark called on a surprised Hunter—in his first relief appearance that season—to pitch to Dodgers catcher Joe Ferguson. "This man can't hit a curveball with a paddle," Dark said when Hunter reached the mound from the bullpen. "What are you gonna throw him?"

"Fastball," replied Hunter.

Splat! Dark spat on the mound and said, "This man can't hit a curveball with a paddle! What you gonna throw him?"

"Fastball," said Hunter.

Splat! The pair repeated the exchange one more time, then Dark, exasperated, finally said, "Why are you gonna throw him a fastball?"

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