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Monday, November 26, 2012

Billy Williams: My Kingdom For a Ring

Well, as the tag line sez…“The Hall of Fame outfielder looks back at Reggie, Finley and his final chance at competitive glory.”

About a week after the season ended, the phone rang. It was the voice many of my now ex-teammates hated hearing. Didn’t bother me much.

“Billy,” Finley said in a cheerful voice, “How are you?” We had a nice conversation for 10-15 minutes; then, of course, Charlie wanted to get down to business. Although I had a two-year contract, there was an option for 1977, so I could have played another year if I wanted to. Finley made me well-aware of this. I was flattered Charlie wanted me for what was most likely going to be a serious youth movement. I should’ve known better.
“So, you’re going to play next year, right?”
“No. That’s that. I’m done.”
“You’ll keep playing. You’re still among the highest-paid players in the game.” He couldn’t have been more wrong.
“Charlie, I’m going home.” I was retiring, I told Finley.
“The Mariners, that new team, just called me about you. Seattle’s a great town.“ The tone in his voice was very salesman-like.
Finley said the Mariners’ ownership group had asked about me. He tried to convince me to sign up for another year so he could trade me for a young player or two. Finley spent 45 minutes trying to sell me on conducting my farewell tour with the Seattle Mariners for the 1977 season.
“You’ll be back playing again,” Charlie laughed. I laughed, too, thanked him for the call and hung up the phone.

 

 

Repoz Posted: November 26, 2012 at 10:18 AM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. McCoy Posted: November 26, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4309680)
An old White Sox that used to frequent my restaurant told me a story once about Finley. Finley was a Chicago guy and was personally a decent and nice guy but an extreme shark when it came to business. As an owner he was allotted box seats for games but he didn't always travel with the team so he didn't always use the tickets. He would gladly give people who knew him tickets to the local ball game if they asked for them. But he always charged them face value for the tickets and here is the kicker, he'd charge a 50 cent service fee for each ticket.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: November 26, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4309715)
My mother-in-law was a waittress and Finley was one of her regular customers (he had a farm in LaPorte, Ind., with a big sign reading "Charlie O's" hanging above the entrance). She said he was a nice guy, though I don't recall her assessment of his tipping habits.
   3. Jose Canusee Posted: November 26, 2012 at 11:28 PM (#4310219)
The Finley A's seemed to be always trying to get the last bit of bat out of known veterans ("the old market inefficiency?") begionning with Deron Johnson (Don Mincher said he had decided to retire after getting his 1972 ring not knowing the DH rule was getting adopted, and turned down an offer to take the job in 73) to Williams, then Earl Williams, Dick Allen, Rico Carty, Willie Horton...Finally, they had a young bat with speed and poor glove in Mitchell Page, whom they moved from LF for some Henderson guy and appeared to be set, except that Page turned into a league-average future batting coach. The old pattern came back with short visits from Cliff Johnson, Jeff Burroughs, and Dave Kingman and, closing the circle with the article, a post-Finley Reggie Jackson.

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