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The Charlie O. Finley Follies
Brent Musburger
September 04, 1967
Everything's up to date in Kansas City, even avant-garde. The A's fired, hired and fired a manager and gave away a $75,000 player
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September 04, 1967

The Charlie O. Finley Follies

Everything's up to date in Kansas City, even avant-garde. The A's fired, hired and fired a manager and gave away a $75,000 player

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At 2:30 a.m. Aker finally arrived at the meeting. When he entered the crowded suite he walked over to Dark and in a stage whisper said: "Alvin, I'm sorry. I never would have stayed out late if I'd known Mr. Finley was coming."

"Mr. Finley wants to talk to you," interrupted Dark. Finley demanded an immediate retraction of the players' statement. Aker refused, saying that he had acted as the players' representative and had obeyed their unanimous vote. At 4:40—or eight and a half hours after the meeting began—Finley left, saying he was going out to get a cup of coffee, and Dark returned to his room, convinced he was out of a job. An hour later he received confirmation.

"Alvin, I have decided to make a change," came the familiar voice.

Several hours later, Dark rode to D.C. Stadium and talked to the players. He left them with tears in his eyes, unable to finish. The players held another meeting, and Aker said: "Some of you guys are young. You've got a lot of years ahead of you. If you want to back out, nobody will object." Nobody backed out. Instead the players issued a second statement expressing a "deep personal" loss over the firing of Dark and concluding: "We feel this action is the result of the players' public statement of August 19th."

The following morning Finley read that and a statement in the press by Harrelson that said: "Finley is a menace to baseball." Charlie immediately phoned his first baseman.

"Kenny, this is Charlie. Did you say those things?"

"I said everything except that you were a menace," replied Harrelson. "What I actually said to the reporter was that I thought your actions of the last few days were bad for baseball."

When Finley asked him what might happen if he were given his release, Harrelson said, "I'd probably have a lot of trouble getting another job."

"Draw up a retraction and I'll call you back," Finley said.

Harrelson was working on a retraction when he received a second call from Finley. He had been released. That night, while Harrelson was packing, Luke Appling, the new manager, hinted that Finley might be interested in retaining him. Harrelson said, "No, thanks." By now, he was aware of his great bargaining position. The Red Sox, the White Sox, the Twins and the Tigers had all called him, and he hadn't received that much attention since he was undisputed arm-wrestling champion of the American League. He selected the Red Sox, who reportedly agreed to pay him $75,000 in bonus and salary.

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