There arguably has never been a big-league baseball team more colorful, flamboyant, and white-hot successful than the Oakland A’s of the early 1970s. The drama surrounding the team, often fueled by maverick owner Charlie Finley, didn’t prevent the club from winning three straight World Series titles. The players sometimes battled among themselves and sometimes with Finley, who author Jason Turbow acknowledges is the dominant figure in this story of the most independent-minded team of its generation. Star players like Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, and Rollie Fingers stood apart not just with their skills, but their mustaches and beards, yet they all quickly exited Oakland in the mid 70s as baseball’s free-agency era kicked in.
Here’s an excerpt from Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic:
“One could forgive Vida Blue for feeling some whiplash, what with the breakneck speed of his turning fortunes. Back in 1971, Blue was baseball’s end-all, horsehide-hurling Hercules who led his team into postseason battle with a playoff-opening assignment against the self-same Orioles that Oakland was again preparing to face. The first time around he stunningly was blown out of the box with a four-run seventh, and the A’s went on to lose game and series alike. Then Blue held out, suffered through a miserable 1972, and opened ’73 by winning three games over the season’s first two months while his ERA hovered around 5.00. It appeared as if his pan had flashed, possibly for good.”