Who is Charles O. Finley? What is he like, this man who by the apparently simple act of selling three of his unsigned Oakland ballplayers brought about the biggest crisis in baseball (page 22) since the creation of Judge Landis? Well, this is what he sounds like, or did last week before Commissioner Bowie Kuhn cancelled the sale of Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox and Vida Blue to the Yankees. On the day of the sale Finley phoned his Oakland manager, Chuck Tanner, and, according to the Chicago Tribune, carried on the following conversation:
"Who are you pitching, Chuck? Who? Don't you have anyone else?
"We'll rebuild, Chuck. I'm sorry we had to do this today. The big thing, Chuck, as I'm telling the press here, was the agent, Jerry Kapstein. He kept me in the dark continuously, right up to the last minute. Never made one trip to come in to talk to me.
"Is Vida there? I couldn't find him. The damn Yankees released the story on me, and it makes me look bad because I didn't tell him. Joe Rudi said he cried for half an hour. I know he feels bad. Let me talk to them, Chuck. All of them. One at a time.
"Vida? This is Charlie Finley. I know how you feel. The damn Yanks jumped the time on me. They promised they wouldn't make an announcement and then we all heard it on the news.... What do you mean, what announcement? I traded you to the Yankees.... Just you. For money.
"Vida, this will mean an awful lot to you. I've appreciated all you've done to help me and all the contributions you've made.... Well, I appreciate your acceptance of this in a professional manner. I hate to see you go. We couldn't have won three straight world titles without you. I love you, buddy, and believe me when I tell you that. Let me talk to Baylor."
Don Baylor, who came to the A's from the Orioles earlier this year, is still unsigned.
"Don? I don't feel too good, Don. This Jerry Kapstein. I think you fellows have one hell of a lousy agent if he can't represent you face to face. He never came to look me in the eye.
"Is there a chance of signing you, Don? What? But I can't talk to your man. I've invited him to my office, but he wants to do everything over the phone.