As the controversial owner of the NFL's Oakland Raiders, Al Davis cultivated a tough, shrewd, and sometimes ornery reputation for himself and his team, envied by some and criticized by many. While this Cinderella town may dwell in the cultural shadow of its glamorous half sister San Francisco, Oakland can lay claim to surviving perhaps the most contentious sports owner ever, and it is not Al Davis. The dubious honor goes to Charlie O. Finley, owner of the Oakland A's from 1960-1981. Described by many as a "cantankerous buffoon," his ideas and behavior ranged from asinine to zany.
One of his favorite stunts was parading, just after feeding time, his self-named mule "Charlie O" all about town and into reporter filled press rooms. (You can guess what happened next.) Courting the media, he invented catchy nicknames for his players, and then concocted elaborate faux boyhood stories about how they came to be (e.g., Jim "Catfish" Hunter). One year, Finley made the peculiar offer to pay each player a $300 bonus to grow a moustache prior to the team picture being taken. Equal to a week's salary for some, all but one obliged.
Finley's antics were just as prevalent on the field. He campaigned for orange baseballs, 3-ball walks, ball girls, and mechanical rabbits to transport baseballs to the home-plate umpire between innings. Rather entertaining was his 5th inning delivery of home made cookies to the umpires, baked by none other than A's employee Debbie Fields---recognize the name?
Lest you think Finley was just eccentric; his personality also had a vindictive side. For the crime of two errors, he fired his 2nd baseman immediately after a World Series Game. Finley threatened to send Reggie Jackson to the minors after a season in which the Hall of Famer hit 47 home runs. He publicly berated any player in a slump and would keep his best players out of the line-up to "teach them a lesson." Nothing seemed to satisfy Charlie Finley. When one of his players was leading the league in batting average halfway through the season, Finley publicly lambasted him for not hitting enough home runs. Former player, Sal Bando summed it up best when asked if it were difficult to leave the A's and Finley. Bando responded, "Was it hard to leave the Titanic?"
To prevent you from making any Finley-esque workout decisions, we have covered the fitness bases.