When Finley read the Bergman item he reached, quite naturally, for the phone. The subsequent conversation went something like this:
"Mr. Bergman, this is Charles O. Finley. You, sir, are a twerp! You have made my announcers sound like prostitutes."
"Oh, they're good announcers, Charlie, but they'd be better if they didn't mention your name eight times every minute."
"O.K., you can write what you want, but from now on, you'd better make your own plane and hotel reservations. You'll have to, because you're not riding on my charters anymore."
Since the Tribune pays Bergman's air passage and hotel bills and he is one of only two reporters who travel with the A's, Finley would seem to have committed something of a gaffe in local press relations, just as he did before last season's playoff series when it was learned he had plans to establish his press headquarters not in Oakland but in The Mark Hopkins Hotel across the Bay in much-envied San Francisco. Even Finley later admitted the Bergman affair was "probably beneath my dignity" and restored his privileges.
The Finley approach to player relations has softened considerably in recent years. He did have a salary dispute with star slugger Reggie Jackson two years ago, but now Jackson is touting him, with some justification, as "Executive of the Year." This year it was Finley vs. Vida Blue over salary. Finley, of course, won, but Blue is still unhappy. It is his contention he was not treated as an adult during the dispute. "Vida," says Finley, "is basically a good boy."
Finley can, however, be extraordinarily generous with his athletes. He is free with unexpected gifts, personal loans and financial advice.
"He helped me with financial problems," said Diego Segui, whom Finley traded to St. Louis this season. "He helped lots of other players, too, and some of them, after they were traded, turned against Mr. Finley. I do not like that."
Another apparent Finley fan is his current manager, Dick Williams, who already holds the longevity record for the job and in August signed a second two-year contract. "It is," says Williams without the slightest suggestion of sarcasm, "a pleasure to work with him."