Back in the day, Nancy Finley was working behind the scenes to ready the Oakland A’s for their World Series appearances.
Less than one week ago, the Texas Rangers won the World Series. So much effort goes into making an event of that magnitude, beyond what takes place on the playing surface, to be a success. This is true dating back more than one hundred years, during MLB’s infancy.
So, when the Rangers won their franchise’s third American League pennant since relocating to Arlington from Washington, D.C. in 1972, I thought of my friend Nancy, who lives north of Austin.
Nancy Finley knows firsthand how to properly prep for MLB’s event of events, come each October.
Nancy’s dad Carl Finley was first cousins to Charlie O. Finley – the guy who owned a controlling interest in the A’s franchise back in December 1960. Then calling Kansas City, Missouri home until moving west to Oakland, California, for the 1968 baseball season.
It was in 1962 that Nancy’s father Carl Finley made a career change. A teacher and school principal in Dallas, Finley took his cousin up on his offer to join him in operating the baseball club he purchased. For all intents and purposes, Carl handled the day-to-day operations of the A’s in California.
With Charlie Finley operating his insurance business in Chicago, cousin Carl was his right-hand man. Team vice president, de facto general manager, Carl oversaw the club’s daily operation.
The A’s under Charlie Finley operated with a limited staff.
In the first half of the 1970s, Oakland baseball ruled the game. The club captured five consecutive American League Western Division titles (1971-1975). Three World Series championships were won (1972-1974) during this period.
As a young girl, Nancy Finley aided her father in fulfilling World Series ticket requests. How they completed the task and where is fascinating.
“For all three World Series, it was me, dad, and a few people who dad trusted that handled the ticket requests,” Finley said by phone as the Rangers readied for the Arizona Diamondbacks. “We even had a lady recruited that was in school training for mortuary school.”
The usual site to handle ticket requests, according to Finley, was a vacant bank, or someplace else that would be the last place anyone could suspect of World Series Central.
Checks, money orders, and cash were stuffed in envelopes, all with ticket requests. There was one envelope that Finley recalls having a gold bracelet fall out of. Inadvertent bride for specific World Series seats requested? Perhaps.
“Boz” Scaggs, a major recording artist at the time of Oakland’s run at baseball’s royalty, is a ticket request Finley remembers tending to.
So, how busy were the Finleys and their handful of helpers when it came to handling World Series ticket requests in their clandestine surroundings?
The three A’s World Series appearances totaled 10 home games. The Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, and Los Angeles Dodgers were Oakland’s National League opponents. The A’s were the last MLB club to win three consecutive World Series titles until the New York Yankees equaled them, starting in 1998.
The A’s had a total home attendance for the 10 home games of 490,109.
This is how many tickets were processed. This is what kept young Nancy, her dad, and their loyal staff busy straight through the night in Northern California, from 1972-1974.
Once the World Series games began, Finley looked back to arriving at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with much anticipation.
“Each one (World Series) was wonderful. I remember seeing all the TV vans in parking lot F,” says Finley. “That lot led to the first deck of the Coliseum. Charlie always had a Miss California or Miss America with him. The food spread was amazing. Then, the mule (The A’s mascot was a mule named Charlie-O) would come in.”
Mingling with the players’ families, and seeing her cousins, Oakland World Series appearances meant family reunions for the Finleys.
“It was a really busy and intense time for me, but I loved it,” Finley says.
Many of the Oakland players knew Nancy since she was a small child, starting in Kansas City. Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, Jim Hunter, and Ted Green are a handful that come back to Finley quickly who were friends. These were, as Finley puts it, ‘My guys.’
Once moving on to Oakland, it was Vida Blue and Reggie Jackson who would be added to Finley’s lineup of friendships earned at the Coliseum.
With the star power players collecting headlines throughout the MLB, while in school, Finley remembers classmates dropping hints for tickets.
“Guys would say things like you could get all the free tickets you want. I was intimidated to ask Dad. He didn’t want too many people to know where we had the (World Series) tickets.”
Carl Finley, who passed in 2002, stayed on with the A’s as a consultant after Charlie sold the club to Walter Haas Jr. in 1980. All three of his World Series championship rings are in the possession of his daughter.
From the great A’s teams of the 1970s that Charlie and Carl Finley had brought baseball glory to Northern California, seven members found their way to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Rollie Fingers Rickey Henderson, Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams, and manager Dick Williams wore Oakland’s colors, and contributed to bringing community pride to the club’s fan base.
There’s one other possession Nancy has ownership to from the days her dad handled a myriad of baseball duties for his cousin – the cremated remains of Charlie-O. MLB’s most famous mule, a fixture of A’s baseball for a dozen years, passed at the age of 20 in 1976.
Finley has the remains in two wooden boxes. She hopes to one day have Charlie-O's remains interred in the outfield of any new stadium the A’s should have. Also, recognition of the mule and the Finley family's contribution to baseball in Oakland is vitally important to her.
The pop-up ticket shops in undisclosed locations around Oakland’s East Bay area are a distance memory for Finley today. But these memories are many and clear. They represent happy times. Working with her father still is the best reward Nancy could have gained, with the multiple World Series wins by the A’s.
This is a very happy ending we all could hope for.