When the American League decided to expand to 10 teams it interviewed various persons and groups who wanted to obtain the two new franchises. One of the men interviewed was 42-year-old Charles Finley of Chicago, a multimillionaire insurance broker who previously had tried to buy into three American League clubs: Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago. On the night of November 17 Finley, who was in Chicago, heard the surprising news that Hank Greenberg was out of the Los Angeles picture. He left for New York immediately on a 3:30 a.m. flight.
In New York the next morning Finley called President Joe Cronin of the American League and said, "I'm here to bid for the Los Angeles franchise. I'm ready to invest $5 million." Cronin said, "Come on up. We'll hear you at 10 o'clock."
Finley arrived and made his pitch. Later he startled the press by announcing that he was not part of a syndicate but that he was bidding as an individual. "The five million is mine and I can get more, if necessary," he said. One newsman whistled. Another said, "Wait till you meet O'Malley." Everyone laughed.
After he made his presentation, Finley has since said Del Webb and Dan Topping of the New York Yankees complimented him on his delivery but advised him that his application would be strengthened if he were to form a syndicate with people from the Los Angeles area. Webb suggested some names, one of them Kenyon Brown.
So at 7 the next morning Finley flew off to Los Angeles. He wanted to see the people Webb had suggested; he also wanted to talk to Casey Stengel and sound him out about managing the club. The first stop was at Stengel's, but Casey wasn't home. A relative reported that he was in San Francisco watching a Stanford football game. Casey's nephew is a student at Stanford.
Then Finley called on Kenyon Brown. Brown was gracious, but he told Finley that Del Webb had left not more than an hour earlier. Webb, who had been sent to Los Angeles by the league to talk to Walter O'Malley, had stopped in to see Brown first. Webb had told Brown that he should get a group together. If he did, he would be a shoo-in for the franchise. Webb apparently never mentioned Finley.
Brown told Finley that he was still not sure of his chances of getting a syndicate together. Finley asked Brown if he'd like to join his group. Brown said he'd give Finley an answer the next day. Finley waited all day but did not hear from Brown. He flew to San Francisco where he found Stengel and had a three-and-a-half-hour breakfast with him. He also phoned George Weiss in Greenwich, Conn. He wanted Weiss as general manager, Stengel as manager, so that he could return to the American League meeting with Stengel on one arm and Weiss on the other. But Casey finally turned him down, and so did George.
Finley flew back to New York. At this point, the owners decided to delay their final decision until the major league meeting in St. Louis. Finley and the others were asked to wait until December 5. Exhausted, Finley decided to get a good night's sleep and fly back to Chicago the next day. When he awoke in the morning he discovered that thieves had been in his suite and that he had been robbed of $1,700.
Six days later he was in Los Angeles, talking to Walter O'Malley. From there he went to Scottsdale, Ariz. to talk to Roy Rogers. He would fight cowboy with cowboy, Kenyon Brown having lassoed Gene Autry. Then, on December 4, he flew from Chicago to New York, met Walter O'Malley and flew with O'Malley to the meetings in St. Louis. Finley says O'Malley promised him his support, but in St. Louis Finley realized at last that he didn't have a chance. Brown, to whom O'Malley had objected because of earlier differences between the two men, had taken a subordinate position to Autry and Bobby Reynolds. The Autry-Reynolds-Brown group was selected. Finley had lost.
From November 20 through December 4 he had flown from Chicago to New York to Los Angeles to San Francisco to New York to Chicago to Los Angeles to Scottsdale to Chicago to New York to St. Louis, and he still didn't have a ball club.