POLLYANNA IN K.C.
Harmony and Charles O. Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics, are antipathetic. Turmoil and Finley have an affinity.
But in recent weeks things had been running rather smoothly for the A's. After Finley fired Mel McGaha as manager, Haywood Sullivan took over and, after the All-Star break, the team played all but .500 baseball. Player morale lifted sharply. The farm system flourished. The A's signed their top draft choices, among them Rick Monday, most sought after of all. Young players like Bert Campaneris and Pitcher Catfish Hunter showed signs of developing into true major-league stars.
Then, without warning, Finley hired Alvin Dark as his administrative assistant. The last administrative assistant Finley had hired was McGaha, who replaced Ed Lopat as manager during the 1964 season. Lopat, in turn, had been brought in as a pitching coach in 1962, presumably to breathe down the neck of Manager Hank Bauer. Ultimately, Lopat replaced Bauer, who resigned before Finley could fire him.
Understandably, Manager Sullivan and his smoothly functioning farm director, Hank Peters, were disturbed when Dark was hired, especially as Finley made it clear that Dark would be responsible only to Finley and report directly to him.
"It's an awkward situation," Peters understated, but added: "Everything that has happened to me has happened for the best, even though it hasn't always looked that way at the time."
If the arrival of Dark means that Peters will not be working for Finley much longer, Peters' philosophy would seem to have stood up to still one more test.
He says he's fat (at 219 pounds), and he seems happy. "You never feel good until it's over," Sonny Liston said before getting into the ring with Cassius Clay, and now that it is, apparently he does. In his Denver home he comes across as Atlas would if someone had just told him, "O.K., you can put it down now."
What is Sonny doing? "Waiting," he said. "I'm setting around and waiting for my money. It's due Friday a week. I'm thinking of kind of doing something different, but I have to see how much the money will be.