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By Bruce Markusen

Author of "The Orlando Cepeda Story"

DATE: 10/06

            Dick Williams and Charlie Finley wrestled with some tough decisions with regard to their 25-man postseason roster, but ultimately have decided that an extra pinch-hitter will prove more valuable than having a ninth pitcher.

            The A’s’ brass has settled on carrying Gonzalo Marquez as the extra position player, instead of the original plan, which was to include left-handed reliever Don Shaw as the injury replacement for Darold Knowles. As part of the roster shift, Vida Blue will be moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen, where he will join Dave Hamilton as one of two left-handed relievers available to Williams.

As a result of the Marquez-over-Shaw decision, the A’s will carry only eight pitchers—and a remarkable total of four first basemen—on their roster for the American League Championship Series matchup against the Detroit Tigers. The A’s’ roster also features a whopping 10 infielders, including four players capable of playing second base, which has been the team’s most unstable position throughout the season.

The following is the breakdown, by position, of Oakland’s 25-man playoff roster, with the expected starting lineup featured in bold:


Catchers (2): Gene Tenace, Dave Duncan


Infielders (10): Mike Epstein (1b), Dick Green (2b), Campy Campaneris (ss), Sal Bando (3b), Mike Hegan (1b), Gonzalo Marquez (1b), Don Mincher (1b), Tim Cullen (2b-ss), Dal Maxvill (2b-ss), Ted Kubiak (2b-ss-3b)


Outfielders (5): Joe Rudi (lf), Reggie Jackson (cf), Matty Alou (rf), George Hendrick, Angel Mangual


Pitchers: (8) Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Ken Holtzman, Blue Moon Odom, Vida Blue, Dave Hamilton, Joel Horlen, Bob Locker, Rollie Fingers


In the Game One matchup, scheduled for tomorrow at the Oakland Coliseum, Dick Williams has tabbed staff ace Catfish Hunter as his starting pitcher. Hunter will face Tigers left-hander Mickey Lolich, a three-game winner in the 1968 World Series—the last time that he appeared in the postseason.

*  *  * 


DATE: 10/07

 For 10 innings, the first game of the 1972 American League Championship Series lived up to expectation—and then the most obscure man on either roster played a key role in deciding Game One between the Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers. Staff aces Catfish Hunter and Mickey Lolich each surrendered an early run, before pitching shutout baseball over their remaining innings.  Hunter lasted eight frames, before giving way to Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers.  Lolich kept the A’s off the scoreboard through 10 innings, picking up where he left off in the 1968 World Series, when he pitched the Tigers to a World Championship.

In the top of the 11th, another veteran of the World Series, longtime great Al Kaline, managed to break the tie. Connecting on a solo home run against Fingers, Kaline gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Given Oakland’s lack of offense throughout the afternoon, an A’s comeback seemed unlikely.

Tigers manager Billy Martin elected to stay with Lolich in the bottom half of the inning.  Lolich allowed the first two batters, Mike Epstein and Gene Tenace, to reach base safely.  Martin reacted by calling on right-hander Chuck Seelbach to relieve his best starting pitcher.  Seelbach faced Gonzalo Marquez, Oakland’s 11th-hour addition to the post-season roster and a player whom most fans outside of the Bay Area had probably never heard of prior to today. Marquez continued his late-season hot hitting by roping a single that dropped in front of Kaline in right field.  Mike Hegan, pinch-running for Epstein, scored easily to tie the game. In the meantime, Tenace turned the corner at second base and headed for third. 

Possessing a strong right fielder’s arm, Kaline attempted to gun down Tenace for the inning’s second out. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Kaline’s throw bounced in front of surehanded third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez, who could not block the ball as it caromed past him into foul territory. Tenace scurried home with the game-winning run, giving the favored A’s a dramatic 3-2 win at home to start the series.


A’s Acorns: Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, and Mike Epstein each had two hits for the A’s… The A’s used three second basemen in the game: Dick Green, Ted Kubiak, and Dal Maxvill. Maxvill left the game in favor of Marquez, the pinch-hitting hero… Fingers, the third of three Oakland pitchers, picked up the win. Fingers relieved Vida Blue, who faced one batter after replacing Hunter in the ninth inning… In Game Two, Blue Moon Odom will face left-hander Woodie Fryman, a key mid-season acquisition for Detroit.

DATE: 10/08

Given the hard feelings between the two teams during the regular season, an incident was bound to happen during this emotionally-charged playoff series between the A’s and the Tigers. And that incident could have severe long-term ramifications on the A’s as they continue their quest for their first World Series appearance since the franchise’s move from Kansas City to Oakland four years ago.

The A’s carried the emotion of the extra-inning victory in Game One into the second game, as they pounded out seven hits in the first five innings, scoring a single run in the first inning and four more in the fifth against Tigers starter Woodie Fryman.  The offensive outburst sent Fryman to the showers, forcing Tigers manager Billy Martin to dip into his weak-link bullpen. Meanwhile, Blue Moon Odom dominated the Tiger lineup, holding Detroit to three singles, in forging a 5-0 shutout.  In the short term, the victory gives the A’s a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-five Championship Series, but the happenings of a volatile seventh inning could haunt Oakland for the remainder of the postseason.

In the bottom of the seventh, A’s leadoff man Campy Campaneris faced Tiger reliever Lerrin LaGrow, who had entered the game in the sixth inning.  Campaneris had done considerable damage in his first three at-bats: three hits, two runs scored, and a pair of stolen bases.  Throughout the game, Tiger pitchers had thrown fastballs in the general direction of Campy’s legs, in an attempt to brush him back off the plate, or perhaps even injure the Oakland catalyst. Predictably, LaGrow threw his first pitch—a fastball—down and in on Campaneris, hitting the Oakland shortstop in the ankle. 

Most of the Oakland players knew that one of the A’s’ batters, given the Tiger struggles in the early part of the series, would eventually become the victim of a deliberate brushback pitch.  “I was in the on-deck circle,” Joe Rudi told a reporter, “and I feel the Detroit pitcher threw at him. Campy had run the Tigers ragged in the first two games, and when [Billy] Martin gets his ears pinned down, he’s going to do something about it.”

A recent history of ill feeling between the Tigers and A’s may have also contributed to today’s ugliness.  During the regular season, Tiger relief pitcher Bill Slayback had thrown at Campaneris and Angel Mangual back-to-back, prompting Mangual to charge the mound.  During the ensuing melee, Mangual punched Slayback, Billy Martin ran after Mangual, Willie Horton decked Mike Epstein, and Duke Sims and Oakland coach Jerry Adair brawled.  Another Oakland coach, Irv Noren, found himself injured by Tiger relief pitcher Tom Timmerman. The 15-minute incident, which included fights and pileups, left simmering feelings of hatred between the two teams.

Today’s incident, however, makes the earlier-season tensions seem far more tame. When LaGrow’s fastball struck the bone of Campaneris’ ankle, the A’s’ shortstop staggered for a moment, glared at the Tiger pitcher, and then, in an unusually violent reaction, flung the bat toward LaGrow.  Spiraling about six feet off the ground, the bat helicoptered toward the pitching mound. The six-foot, five-inch LaGrow ducked down, barely avoiding contact with the bat, which ended up a few feet behind the mound.

Billy Martin led the charge of Tiger players and coaches from the dugout. Martin ran directly toward home plate, but three of the umpires managed to hold back the Tiger manager, preventing him from completing his assault on Campaneris.  Nestor Chylak, the home-plate umpire and crew chief, ejected both Campaneris and LaGrow, while attempting to calm an infuriated Martin. “You bet I was after him,” Martin told United Press International after trying to fight Campaneris in a 60-foot area located between the teams’ clubhouses.  “There’s no place for that kind of gutless stuff in baseball,” seethed Martin. “That’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in all my years of baseball… I would respect him if he went out to throw a punch but what he did was the most gutless [thing] of any man to put on a uniform. It was a disgrace to baseball.”

After the game, American League President Joe Cronin announced that he is suspending Campaneris for the balance of the playoff series against the Tigers, and added a $500 fine to the punishment.  On the matter of Campy’s availability for the World Series, Cronin has chosen to defer to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.  The commissioner will likely make a decision about Campy’s World Series eligibility within the next few days.

In the meantime, the A’s know they will be without their starting shortstop and leadoff man for the rest of the series against the Tigers. A’s manager Dick Williams will likely turn to one of his two utility infielders—either Ted Kubiak or Dal Maxvill—as the starter at shortstop, but finding a new leadoff man may be a more difficult proposition. Late-season pickup Matty Alou might be the most logical choice to fill the role.


A’s Acorns: After Campaneris was ejected from the game, Maxvill took his place on the basepaths and then stayed in the game to play shortstop the rest of the day… Joe Rudi, the A’s third-place hitter, went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored… The Campaneris incident overshadowed a superb performance by Blue Moon Odom, who allowed only three singles, walked no one, and gave the bullpen the afternoon off. Odom also laid down a sacrifice bunt in three appearances at the plate… The Tigers used five pitchers in today’s game: Fryman, LaGrow, rookie Chris Zachary, Fred Scherman, and John Hiller. Zachary was particularly ineffective, throwing two wild pitches and walking the one batter he faced.


DATE: 10/09

            Today is a travel day for the A’s and Tigers, who will continue their best-of-five American League Championship Series tomorrow in Detroit. The A’s lead the series, two games to none.

            Dick Williams has announced that Matty Alou will bat leadoff in the aftermath of the playoff suspension of Campy Campaneris. Veteran infielder Dal Maxvill will take over Campy’s position at shortstop and will bat second in the revamped lineup.

            The Game Three pitching matchup has 19-game winner Ken Holtzman opposing veteran right-hander Joe Coleman at Tiger Stadium. With the A’s starting a left-hander for the first time in the series, the Tigers will use their right-handed platoon and sit down two of their most dangerous left-handed hitters. Utilityman Ike Brown will start at first base over veteran mainstay Norm Cash, while Mickey Stanley will take over center field from power-hitting Jim Northrup.


DATE: 10/10

Perhaps the Bert Campaneris bat-throwing escapade has turned the tide in a series that the A’s appeared on the verge of sweeping. Campy’s indiscretion in Game Two removed one of the hottest bats from the Oakland lineup, deprived Dick Williams the services of his regular leadoff man, and may have served as motivating anger for the Tigers, who have managed to extend the playoffs with a 3-0 victory over the A’s today.

Trailing two games to none heading into today’s elimination game, the Tigers not only could take some comfort in the loss of Campaneris but also in the switch in venues, from the Oakland Coliseum to Tiger Stadium. Even more than home field advantage, the pitching of veteran right-hander Joe Coleman proved to be the difference today. The veteran right-hander pitched a seven-hit shutout, striking out a playoff-record 14 batters along the way. Highlighted by a devastating forkball, Coleman’s surprising exhibition of power pitching eclipsed the previous American League playoff record of 12 strikeouts, set by Jim Palmer of the Baltimore Orioles in the 1970 Championship Series against the Minnesota Twins. In the process, only two A’s baserunners reached as far as third base against an ultra-effective Coleman.

            While Coleman dominated a lineup that no longer has the services of Campaneris, A’s starter Ken Holtzman struggled against the right-handed lineup employed by Tigers manager Billy Martin. Facing a lineup that featured only one left-handed hitter (shortstop Dick McAuliffe), Holtzman found himself in a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fourth inning. Holtzman prepared to face utilityman Ike Brown, a right-handed hitter who had received the start at first base over the more well-known Norm Cash. Martin’s confidence in Brown paid off; the journeyman infielder pounded out a two-run single, breaking a scoreless tie.

Bob Locker then permitted an insurance run in the eighth inning, putting Oakland’s inconsistent offense in a three-run hole against Coleman. With Coleman’s forkball working at peak efficiency, an Oakland comeback of such proportions was simply not going to happen.


A’s Acorns: In a sense, the A’s couldn’t directly blame Campaneris’ absence for today’s loss. Campaneris’ replacement in the leadoff slot performed well; right fielder Matty Alou banged out two doubles and a single in five at-bats and added a stolen base. Joe Rudi also had three hits in four trips to the plate. Unfortunately, the A’s couldn’t score Alou or Rudi, as they stranded a grand total of 10 runners on the afternoon… Sal Bando managed the only other hit for Oakland… The A’s already knew that Campaneris would have to miss the rest of the playoff series with Detroit because of his bat-throwing incident in Game Two, but they know that they will have the services of their sparkplug for the World Series—assuming that they can finish off the Tigers in one of the next two games. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn has announced that Campaneris will have to sit out the first seven games of the 1973 season without pay, in addition to his playoff suspension, but will be eligible for any potential World Series games. 






DATE: 10/11


Two themes have become readily apparent during the American League Championship Series between the A’s and the Tigers. Neither team is scoring many runs and Oakland’s middle infield is becoming a recurring location for controversy.

The low-scoring theme of the series continued this afternoon in Game Four, as the A’s and Tigers each scored only one run through nine innings.  With the score still tied at 1-1, Detroit’s hard-luck Mickey Lolich left for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth.  The Tigers failed to score against Oakland starter-turned-reliever Vida Blue, forcing extra innings for the second time in the series. 

In the top of the 10th, the A’s scored two runs against the soft underbelly of the Tiger bullpen, this time an ineffective Chuck Seelbach. With a 2-0 lead, the A’s closed in on what appeared certain to be the franchise’s first American League pennant since the Philadelphia A’s of 1931.

Unfortunately for the A’s, Dick Williams had already burned his best reliever, Rollie Fingers, who bailed out Catfish Hunter in the bottom of the eighth. Williams followed with Blue, who pitched a scoreless ninth, but then left the game for pinch-hitter Gonzalo Marquez (who stroked yet another hit in the process).  Those moves left Williams with a choice of three middle relievers to work the 10th: right-handers Bob Locker and Joel Horlen, or left-hander Dave Hamilton. Although left-handed hitter Dick McAuliffe was scheduled to lead off the inning, Williams selected the more experienced Locker instead of the rookie, Hamilton.

McAuliffe and Al Kaline started the inning with singles, sending Locker to the bench in favor of Horlen.  Showing a lack of control against veteran pinch-hitter Gates Brown, Horlen unfurled a wild pitch, moving the tying and winning runs into scoring position. Horlen then proceeded to walk Brown, loading the bases.  With the A’s playing the infield back, Bill Freehan followed with a grounder to Sal Bando at third base.   Conceding the Tigers’ second run of the game, Bando opted for what seemed like a sure third-to-second-to-first double play. 

The A’s, however, were playing the 10th with a second-string infield.  With Campy Campaneris suspended, Dal Maxvill started the game at shortstop, before giving way to a pinch-hitter and two utility infielders, Tim Cullen and Ted Kubiak.  Starting second baseman Dick Green had also been lifted for a pinch-hitter, and with Kubiak now committed to playing shortstop, Williams chose to use his starting catcher—Gene Tenace—at second base in the late innings.

Tenace ran to cover second base, readying himself to receive the throw that would give the A’s a forceout, and perhaps the start of a twin killing.  Yet, the novice infielder—who has made only a handful of appearances at second base—bobbled the toss from Bando, allowing the lumbering Gates Brown to reach second base safely. “I think [Tenace] heard my footsteps,” offered the 230-pound Brown in an interview with sportswriter Dave Nightingale, “because he got out of there before he had the ball.” McAuliffe scored from third, to make it a 3-2 game, while the bases remained loaded.  Instead of recording at least one, and possible two outs, the makeshift Oakland infield had come up empty. 

Although Horlen was hardly at fault for the botched double play, he left the game in favor of southpaw Dave Hamilton, so that Oakland could take advantage of the matchups against two upcoming left-handed hitters, Norm Cash and Jim Northrup.  Perhaps rattled by Tenace’s error, Hamilton walked Cash to tie the game.  Hamilton then watched helplessly as Northrup lashed a game-ending single to right field, in front of a charging Matty Alou. Northrup’s timely hit capped off a dramatic 4-3 comeback win for the Tigers.

For only the second time all season (the A’s lost a game in July when Sal Bando made an error while playing out of position at second base), Oakland’s strange second-base shuffle has cost the team a game. A playoff loss, however, may prove far more critical than a game in late July.

In all honesty, Williams has never really liked the constant lifting of his second basemen for pinch-hitters, but has agreed to follow Charlie Finley’s “suggestion” regarding the revolving door at second base. The bottom line? Williams’ decision to use Finley’s rotation of second basemen has led directly to an important playoff loss—and to the necessity of playing a decisive fifth game tomorrow at Tiger Stadium. 


A’s Acorns: Horlen took the loss for the A’s, while John Hiller picked up the win after recording the final out in the top of the 10th… Mike Epstein hit a solo home run for the A’s, giving them their first long ball of the series… Dick McAuliffe, the Tigers’ starting shortstop, went deep for Detroit in the bottom of the third… Matty Alou continued his hot hitting out of the leadoff spot, picking up two doubles in five at-bats. Alou has accumulated four doubles in the two games since replacing Campy Campaneris in the top spot… The Game Five starters will represent a rematch of Game Two; Blue Moon Odom, who pitched a shutout in the second game, will face veteran left-hander Woodie Fryman, who lasted only four and a third innings.

 DATE: 10/12

For the first time in 41 years, the A’s’ franchise—be it in Philadelphia, Kansas City, or Oakland—has won an American League pennant. Without Campy Campaneris for the entire game and without Reggie Jackson for most of the game, the undermanned A’s managed to outlast the Detroit Tigers, 2-1, in the fifth and final game of a memorable Championship Series. The victory launches the A’s into the World Series, where they will meet the Cincinnati Reds, who today defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth and final game of their National League playoff series.

The decisive American League matchup pitted a nerve-wracked Blue Moon Odom against a calm Woodie Fryman. The two starters had met in the series’ second game, when Odom spun a shutout.  That performance didn’t seem to give Blue Moon any extra confidence prior to Game Five. Odom hardly slept before the final game, perhaps two hours, if that much.

The game started ominously for Odom and Oakland, when the Tigers reached the right-hander for a run in the first inning and the A’s lost their most dynamic position player in the second inning.  With Jackson at third base and Mike Epstein leading off first base, Dick Williams called for a delayed double steal. As Tiger catcher Bill Freehan delivered a weak throw to second base, Jackson raced home. Crashing feet-first into Freehan, Jackson beat the return throw home and scored the tying run. Unfortunately for the A’s, the run came at a cost. On the play, Jackson injured his hamstring muscle severely, forcing him to leave the game.  The A’s now faced the undesirable situation of having to play the final seven and a half innings without both Jackson and the previously suspended Campaneris.

After Dick Williams and several Oakland players helped a teary-eyed Jackson leave the field for treatment in the trainer’s room, backup first baseman Mike Hegan and relief pitcher Darold Knowles (another injured A’s player) moved Reggie to a spot in the clubhouse where he could observe the remainder of the game on television.  Jackson watched his center-field replacement, rookie George Hendrick, reach base in the fourth inning on an error by Dick McAuliffe, the Tigers’ regular second baseman who has been forced to play shortstop because of an injury to Eddie Brinkman. After Sal Bando sacrificed Hendrick to second, Mike Epstein struck out, bringing the slumping Gene Tenace stepped to the plate.  Tenace, who was 0-for-15 in the series and one of the principal goats in the fourth game, delivered a sharp single.  Hendrick rounded third, fast approaching home plate.  The lanky, fleet-footed center fielder slid feet first, away from Freehan’s sweeping glove.  As Freehan tried to apply the tag, he bobbled the ball, allowing Hendrick to score the go-ahead run.  

Battling his nerves, Odom continued to shackle the Tigers, holding them to just one unearned run through the first five innings. Although Odom appeared fine on the mound, he complained to Dick Williams that he was having difficulty breathing. Odom then asked to be taken out of the game.  “Odom couldn’t get his breath in the dugout,” Williams explained to Ralph Ray of The Sporting News. “He told me he felt a little nauseated.”

Williams complied with Odom’s request to leave the game and turned the ball over to Vida Blue to start the bottom of the sixth.  The starter-turned-reliever responded with one of his best efforts of the season: four innings, three hits, no walks, and three strikeouts. 

As Detroit fans repeatedly hurled debris onto the field, Blue continued to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard. With two outs in the ninth inning and the A’s still guarding a one-run lead, Tigers infielder Tony Taylor lined a Blue fastball to center field.  Perfectly positioned, Hendrick made the catch with ease. The dramatic 2-1 victory gave the A’s a three-games-to-two win in the playoffs—and represented wholesale improvement over last year’s Championship Series, when the A’s lost three straight games to the Baltimore Orioles.


A’s Acorns: Williams summed up the pennant-winning victory shortly after the final out. “This was our greatest victory,” said Williams, “and it followed our worst loss. It shows what kind of club we are.”… After the middle infield disaster of Game Four, Williams did not substitute for his second basemen in Game Five, instead leaving the reliable glove of Dick Green in to play the entire game. Green went 0-for-4, but most importantly, did not commit an error. The rest of the A’s also played mistake-free defense… In contrast, the Tigers committed two errors, including the miscue by McAuliffe, which cost Fryman an unearned run… Jackson’s steal of home plate was his second of the game… Without question, pitching dominated the Championship Series. The A’s scored only 13 runs in the entire series against Detroit, but their pitchers allowed the Tigers only 10 runs—or an average of two runs per game.


DATE: 10/13

Reggie Jackson hoped that he had suffered nothing more than a slight hamstring pull or a severe “charley horse” in the final game of the playoff series against the Detroit Tigers and might still be able to play in his first World Series.  Still, as he sat next to his friend, Dave Duncan, on the team flight to Cincinnati, Reggie feared the worst.

Jackson’s suspicions have become justified. Jackson will indeed miss the entire World Series because of a serious leg injury.  During the playoff game against the Tigers, Jackson had initially pulled his hamstring about 30 feet from home plate.  If he had stopped running at that moment, he might have been able to play against the Reds in the World Series.  Instead, Jackson kept running and scored a critical run for the A’s, but did massive damage to the leg. “I could feel everything tear loose when I went into Tiger catcher Bill Freehan at the plate,” Jackson told sportswriter George Vass. “I ruptured my hamstring, pulled it away from the bone, stretched the ligaments in my knee.” As gory as Jackson’s description sounded, the pain felt worse. “Imagine someone reaching inside your leg,” Jackson told Dwight Chapin of the San Francisco Examiner, “and just pulling everything apart.”

Jackson’s injury will leave the A’s severely shorthanded in the outfield, and will force Dick Williams into inserting unproven rookie George Hendrick or sophomore jinx victim Angel Mangual into the center-field spot. On the bright side, the A’s will be getting their infield back to full strength. The A’s have regained the services of starting shortstop Campy Campaneris, who had been suspended for the last two games of the Championship Series. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, against the wishes of some writers and fans, has deemed Campaneris eligible for all World Series games against the Reds. Campaneris is expected to bat in his customary leadoff spot, with Matty Alou returning to the No. 2 position in the order.


A’s Acorns: Even in their pennant-winning victory over the Tigers, the A’s could not escape controversy. During the post-game celebration, Vida Blue chided Blue Moon Odom, his best friend on the A’s, for leaving the game early because of nausea and hyperventilation.  According to United Press International, Blue snapped at Odom. “Hey man,” said Blue, “Why didn’t you go nine?”  Odom explained that the tension of the situation had caused him to gag, almost to the point of vomiting. “Oh man, I know why you didn’t go nine,” Blue said, answering his own question.  Blue then held his hand up to his neck and mouthed a few more words. “I know why.” The insinuation of “choking” infuriated Odom, who retreated to his locker momentarily before making a move toward Blue’s locker. Joe Rudi intercepted Odom, preventing him from completing his charge toward Blue. Moments later, Blue apologized to his ally, explaining that he was only kidding… Blue was also involved in another minor newsmaking episode. According to an article in the San Francisco Examiner, Blue charged owner Charlie Finley with “trying to destroy my career.” When Blue asked an attendant to give him a bottle of champagne during the playoff celebration, the clubhouse man refused, telling him that the bottle was reserved for Finley’s wife, Shirley.  “What did she do?” Blue responded sarcastically, according to an article by sportswriter Dick Young. After wondering out loud about what the owner’s wife had contributed to the playoff victory over the Tigers, Blue turned his wrath toward Dick Williams, who had elected not to use him as a starter during the playoffs.  Rather than tell Blue directly that he had planned to use him as a reliever during the Championship Series, Williams had instructed pitching coach Bill Posedel to relay the message. By the way, Blue is expected to continue pitching out of the bullpen during the World Series… Ken Holtzman will make the start in Game One at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, opposed by the Reds’ ace right-hander, Gary Nolan.


DATE: 10/14

When one thinks of home run hitters on the A’s roster, the names of Reggie Jackson, Mike Epstein, and Sal Bando are usually the first names to come to mind. That thought process might have to change now, considering the exploits of Gene Tenace in Game One of the 1972 World Series. In each of his first two Series at-bats against the Cincinnati Reds, Tenace lofted a Gary Nolan offering deep into the left-field bleachers at Riverfront, thus becoming the first player in major league history to homer in his first two Fall Classic at-bats. The two-run blast and solo shot gave the A’s a 3-0 lead on the way to a nailbiting 3-2 win in Game One of the World Series. 

“I never hit two home runs in one game before,” Tenace revealed to Joe Durso of the New York Times.  “The first one was on a fastball out over the plate.  The second was on a hanging curve.” Tenace had taken advantage of a pair of mistake pitches—both thrown in poor locations by Nolan, the Reds’ starter and loser in Game One.  “No scout in the world could help you on those [pitches],” Reds manager Sparky Anderson told the New York Times, defending the Reds’ scouting report and pitch selection against Tenace. Prior to the Series, Anderson had told his pitchers to throw the patient Tenace strikes and not walk him—under any circumstances.

In the meantime, the Reds hit A’s starter Ken Holtzman fairly well, collecting four hits in the first five innings, while scoring single runs in the second and fourth frames.  Holtzman struggled in each inning, but avoided further damage by stranding eight Cincinnati baserunners.  In the sixth inning, A’s skipper Dick Williams allowed a teetering Holtzman to face the leadoff batter.  When Johnny Bench doubled against the right-field fence, Williams called upon his best reliever, Rollie Fingers, who had actually begun warming up during the second inning. The Oakland fireman fanned Tony Perez and Denis Menke and retired Cesar Geronimo on a line drive to Joe Rudi, quickly cutting off a budding Reds rally. 

In the seventh inning, the Reds tried to mount another rally. Dave Concepcion grounded a leadoff single to left field.  With pinch-hitter Ted Uhlaender at the plate, Concepcion took off for second base.  Anticipating the play, the A’s called for a pitchout, but Gene Tenace threw high to Campy Campaneris, who arrived late in covering the bag.  Campy applied a sweeping tag that appeared to miss the runner.  Second base umpire Mel Steiner saw the play differently, calling Concepcion out.

Concepcion briefly protested what seemed like a questionable call.  Steiner pointed to Concepcion’s head, indicating where Campaneris had placed the tag.  “[He] never touched me on that play at second base,” Concepcion told reporters after the game. Television replays, utilizing a ground-level camera angle, fully supported Concepcion’s contention.  Since Campaneris had arrived at the bag late, and had been forced to reach for the high throw, he had been left with only once choice: the sweep tag.  Campaneris had come up empty, missing both Concepcion’s shoulder and head.  The proper call would have allowed Concepcion, the potential tying run, to remain at second base with no one out.

After striking out Uhlaender, Fingers walked Pete Rose on four pitches and gave way to Vida Blue, who will begin the Series by coming out of the bullpen.  The unhappy left-hander, previously offended by the manager’s refusal to use him as a starter, hurled shutout ball the rest of the way to preserve the 3-2 win and give the A’s the early edge in the Series. “He was told the other day that he’d pitch relief,” Williams told the New York Times.  “He volunteered for it today.”  Perhaps reluctantly, Blue had indeed offered his services to Williams as a Game One reliever.  “Pitching is my job,” Blue said tersely.  “And when I throw the ball, I’m contributing more than anybody else.”


A’s Acorns: Although Blue pitched superbly in picking up the save, his role apparently will change later in the Series. Williams plans to rest Blue for games two and three and use him as a starter in Game Four… Holtzman, making his World Series debut, earned the victory… The A’s decided to replace Reggie Jackson (out with a torn hamstring muscle) on the 25-man roster with journeyman minor leaguer Allan Lewis. Although Lewis is technically listed as an outfielder, he is expected to be used exclusively as a pinch-runner in the late innings. The rest of Oakland’s roster remains the same as it was during the playoff series against Detroit… Speaking of Jackson, he was introduced to the capacity crowd at Riverfront Stadium crowd the traditional pre-game introductions of the A’s players. Wearing civilian clothes, Jackson was given permission to sit in the A’s’ dugout during Game One… As expected, the previously suspended Campy Campaneris returned to his customary leadoff spot in the Oakland batting order. Campaneris was jeered loudly by the Riverfront Stadium fans each time he stepped to the plate. “I expected it,” said Campaneris to a reporter, “but it didn’t bother me.”… Matty Alou, who filled in brilliantly as the leadoff man during the final three games of the League Championship Series, will now bat second, followed by Joe Rudi in the three-hole and Mike Epstein in the cleanup spot… Heading into the Series, Alou was one of only four A’s with previous World Series experience. The other three—Mike Hegan, Dal Maxvill, and Don Mincher—are all backup players for the A’s. Hegan played in the 1964 Series with the New York Yankees; Mincher appeared in the 1965 Fall Classic with the Minnesota Twins; and Maxvill participated in both the 1967 and ’68 Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.


DATE: 10/15

The A’s could not have drawn up a plan any better for the first two games of the World Series. They would have been satisfied to leave Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium with a split, but thanks to some miraculous defensive maneuvers in the ninth inning, the A’s captured a thrilling 2-1 win in Game Two and now own a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven Series.

Youthful left-hander Ross Grimsley took to the mound for the Reds and encountered early trouble against an Oakland lineup heavily loaded with capable right-handed bats. In the second inning, Sal Bando, Dick Green, starting pitcher Catfish Hunter, and leadoff man Campy Campaneris massaged four singles around a pair of outs, to give the A’s their first run.  One inning later, Joe Rudi reached the seats for the first time in his post-season career, connecting on a solo home run on a “thigh-high” fastball that Grimsley left over the inside third of the plate.  “I was surprised how he had developed into a real good hitter,” Reds advance scout Ray Shore told the New York Daily News in describing Rudi. “Two years ago I didn’t think Joe Rudi would be a good player.” Rudi’s reputation would grow even further a new innings later.

Having held the Reds scoreless through the first eight innings with a mix of surprisingly live fastballs and hard sliders, Hunter remained on the mound to start the ninth. He promptly surrendered a leadoff single to Cincinnati’s powerful first baseman, Tony Perez. Denis Menke followed with a line drive toward left field.  The ball carried well, appearing to have a chance to clear the wall for a game-tying home run.  As Rudi raced back, he tried to flip his sunglasses into position. Nearing the wall, he peeked over his head toward the flight of the ball. With his back to the infield, Rudi climbed the wall in spider-like fashion.  His left arm fully outstretched and his right hand braced against the wall, Rudi leapt for the Menke drive. His legs hovering several feet above the ground, the six-foot, two-inch Rudi attempted a backhanded snare for the ball. Once his glove grasped the ball, Rudi pulled his glove back as quickly as possible, for fear that the ball might pop loose if the glove made contact with the wall. When Rudi’s feet returned to the warning track turf, he held the ball up to the umpires, proving that he had robbed Menke of an extra-base hit. 

“It was as great a catch as you’ll ever see,” gushed Dick Williams in an interview with Bob Stevens of the San Francisco Chronicle. If Rudi had not caught the ball, Perez likely would have scored from first and Menke would have coasted into second base. Instead, the disappointed players in the Reds’ dugout had to watch Perez, who had already rounded the second base bag, scurry back to first with one man out.

Onlookers at Riverfront Stadium immediately compared Rudi’s leaping catch to heroic defensive plays in earlier World Series.   “I’d put it ahead of two other World Series catches that have been written about a lot,” Williams said definitively to a reporter from the Associated Press.  “The one by Al Gionfriddo of the Dodgers against Joe DiMaggio in 1947 and the one Willie Mays made off Vic Wertz in 1954.”

The next batter, Cesar Geronimo, laced a screeching line drive to the right of Hegan, who had been inserted for defensive measures three innings earlier.  Hegan dove to his left to field Geronimo’s shot. Hegan caught the ball momentarily, then watched it pop out when his glove smacked the ground. Retrieving the ball with his bare hand, Hegan scrambled on his hands and legs toward first base, tagging the base with the ball for the inning’s second out.

Although Rudi’s play against Menke received more attention, some in attendance at Riverfront Stadium claimed that Hegan had actually executed a more impressive play.  Dick Williams praised Hegan effusively in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, calling him “the best left-handed fielding first baseman in all of baseball, and that includes Mr. [Wes] Parker.”

Williams certainly has ample reason to believe in Hegan’s credentials.  During the regular season, Hegan set an all-time major league record for first baseman by playing in his 164th consecutive game without making an error. In addition to sure, reliable hands, Hegan possesses cat-like range to either side. Unlike slower first baseman, Hegan feels equally comfortable playing on either grass or artificial turf, where batted balls tended to travel faster and skid more often.

Although the Oakland defense had brought the A’s within one out, Hunter had allowed several hard-hit balls in the ninth.  Sal Bando walked to the mound from his position at third base, urging Hunter to finish the game off. As Hunter tried to prepare himself mentally for the next Reds' batter, Sparky Anderson called back his No. 8 hitter, Darrel Chaney, replacing him with pinch-hitter Hal McRae.  The backup outfielder grounded a single to left, scoring Perez to make it a 2-1 game. 

Recognizing that the last three batters had hit the ball solidly, Dick Williams walked to the mound to remove a tiring Hunter from the game. “I wanted to finish,” Hunter told the Chicago Daily News.  “I begged to finish.” Williams refused to listen and called on his relief ace, Rollie Fingers. The Oakland fireman faced pinch-hitter Julian Javier, the former Cardinals’ second baseman who had played for the Redbirds’ championship teams in 1964, ‘67, and ‘68. The right-handed hitting Javier weakly popped up a Fingers slider along the first-base line. Hegan ran into foul territory, planted himself squarely in the first-base coaching box, and nestled the ball into his glove for the game’s final out.


A’s Acorns: Game Two attracted the largest baseball audience in the history of Cincinnati. A crowd of 53,224 fans, standing room only, watched Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The 53-year-old Robinson spoke eloquently of his desire to “see a black face managing in baseball.” Commissioner Bowie Kuhn then assisted a nearly sightless Robinson to his seat along the first-base line. [Editor’s Note: Only nine days later, Robinson would die from a heart attack caused by the effects of diabetes.]… In addition to his fielding gem in the ninth, Rudi banged out two hits and scored one run in three at-bats. Second baseman Dick Green, far better known for his defensive play, also picked up a pair of hits… Hunter and Mike Epstein each committed errors, but the miscues did not result in any of the Reds’ runs… Reds relievers Pedro Borbon and Tom Hall combined to pitch four scoreless innings in relief of Grimsley, who took the loss.

 DATE: 10/17

Today is a travel day for the A’s and Reds, who will continue the 1972 World Series tomorrow afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum. The Game Three matchup will feature Comeback Player of the Year candidate Blue Moon Odom against Jack Billingham, the former Houston Astros hurler, in a battle of veteran right-handers.


A’s Acorns: Controversy never seems to stray too far away from the A’s. In the aftermath of Game Two, Catfish Hunter told a group of reporters that several of the Reds’ hitters might have underestimated the speed of his fastball, which featured late movement within the strike zone. When Cincinnati’s Pete Rose heard about Hunter’s public comments, he erupted.  “I don’t want to make any excuses, but it’s just that we put so much into that series with Pittsburgh,” Rose told the San Francisco Chronicle, referring to the National League Championship Series against the Pirates. “Now he [Hunter] goes and says we were underestimating his fastball.” Sensing Rose’s anger at Hunter, a reporter asked the Reds’ left fielder if he would characterize the Catfish as a “super” pitcher.  “No, I wouldn’t,” Rose responded tersely to the Chronicle.  “He’s a good pitcher, but hell, I’m not gonna make him out to be a super pitcher because he’s not.”  Rose offered an uninspiring comparison of Hunter to two lesser-known National League pitchers.  “He reminds me of Rick Wise,” Rose informed the writer, referring to the veteran right-handed pitcher with the Cardinals. “That’s about how hard he throws, or maybe like Jim McAndrew [of the New York Mets], but he certainly is no Tom Seaver or Bob Gibson.” Rose then extended his criticism to the entire Oakland pitching staff. “Don’t tell me their pitching is that much better than Pittsburgh’s,” Rose told the Chronicle, in offering a comparison to a Pirates staff regarded by several scouts as only slightly better than average. In the space of a few paragraphs, Rose may have supplied the A’s with sufficient bulletin board material to last the remainder of the Series… Reds manager Sparky Anderson has also contributed to the Oakland bulletin board by making a bold prediction.  “I’m not a betting man,” the Cincinnati skipper informed the Chicago Daily News, “but even if the Las Vegas people make us 20-1 underdogs now, I still bet we’ll win the Series in seven games.” Anderson did concede some concern, however.  “I’m not going to panic just yet,” Anderson told Red Smith of the New York Times, “but I’m close to that.”… Although the A’s have a two-games-to-none lead in the Series, Dick Williams has faced his share of criticism. Some members of the national media have questioned his on-field strategy, criticizing him for making too many pitching changes and substitutions during the first two games of the Series.   “I’ve overmanaged two in a row now,” Williams said sarcastically in an interview with Dick Young of the New York Daily News, “and I’m tickled pink!”… Yet, Williams did second-guess himself over his handling of his pitchers in Game Two.  “I left Hunter in two hitters too long,” Williams told sportswriter Al Hirshberg in assessing his decision to allow Hunter to face Denis Menke and Cesar Geronimo in the ninth inning.  “[Joe] Rudi and [Mike] Hegan took me off the hook.  But they shouldn’t have to. I made a mistake.” Rudi and Hegan both turned in spectacular defensive plays to stave off a budding rally by the Reds and preserve victory in Game Two.

 DATE: 10/16

The A’s and Reds will have an unanticipated extra day off before the World Series resumes with the staging of Game Three. The recent dreary weather— the ninth consecutive day of rain in the Bay Area—has forced postponement of today’s third game. There are even reports that the Series might be shifted to San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, which features artificial turf, although Commissioner Bowie Kuhn has not yet made official any public declarations regarding the matter. If the Series is able to resume tomorrow, John “Blue Moon” Odom will oppose Jack “Bone” Billingham at the Oakland Coliseum. The A’s lead the best-of-seven two games to none.

A’s Acorns: Even in victory, the A’s are finding more and more sources of controversy. The win in Game Two apparently left Dick Williams and 24 of the 25 A’s happy, with the lone exception being first baseman Mike Epstein. The left-handed slugger was furious with Williams because of his decision to remove him from the game, taking him out for pinch-running specialist Allan “The Panamanian Express” Lewis in the sixth inning. Known as a below-average defensive player, Epstein claimed that he could have pulled off the same kind of play that Mike Hegan had made against Cesar Geronimo, a contention that most baseball scouts would find disagreement with—and vehemently.

On the flight from Cincinnati to Oakland, Epstein rose from his seat and walked to the front of the plane, where Williams usually sat. Epstein seated himself next to Williams, politely admonishing his manager for taking him out of a World Series game.  Williams listened patiently to his frustrated first baseman, who did his best to calmly explain his feelings.

According to Williams, Epstein then issued him a kind of warning, instructing the manager to never take him out of a game again.  “I just feel you don’t appreciate the way I’ve been busting my tail,” Epstein told Williams, according to a story by Dwight Chapin that appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.  “I don’t want this to happen again.” Williams, who moments ago might have been feeling some sympathy for Epstein, was probably now ready to strangle his first baseman.  Williams exhibited unusual courage in shouting at Epstein, an oversized man once described by former A’s backup catcher Curt Blefary, a rugged man himself, as being so strong that “he could pinch my head off.”

Thankfully, the exchange between the first baseman and manager did not reach a physical stage. Epstein and Williams exchanged angry words for the next few moments before finally settling down. Just imagine if the A’s had lost the first two games of the Series.

 DATE: 10/18

As expected, pitching dominated Game Three of the World Series, as hitters on both teams tried to deal with the hazards of twilight brought about by the decision to start the game at 5:00 pm local time in the Bay Area. In a game the Reds absolutely had to have, Cincinnati scratched out a 1-0 victory at the Oakland Coliseum, narrowing the A’s’ advantage in the Series to a lead of two games to one.

Rather than use Gary Nolan on three days rest, Reds manager Sparky Anderson opted for Jack Billingham, while Dick Williams countered with Blue Moon Odom.  Both hurlers pitched brilliantly over the first six innings, maintaining a scoreless tie.  Dick Green helped out Odom immensely by making two spectacular plays at second base, robbing Joe Morgan and Pete Rose of certain singles.

In the seventh inning, Tony Perez led off with a single against Odom and moved to second base on Denis Menke’s sacrifice bunt. Cesar Geronimo, better known for his fine defensive skills and cannon-like throwing arm, swatted a line single toward center field.  Perez stumbled rounding third, falling on the rain-soaked field face-first, but still managed to score easily when center fielder George Hendrick tossed the ball toward Campy Campaneris, who was stationed as the cut-off man between the pitcher’s mound and second base.  Geronimo’s single held up, as Reds fireman Clay Carroll saved the 1-0 game for Billingham with a scoreless ninth inning.

When a reporter questioned Hendrick’s decision to throw to second base and Campaneris’ failure to throw home, Williams sprang to his players’ defense. “Don’t make a goat out of Hendrick,” Williams said in an interview with Gannett News Service.  “He was worrying about Geronimo trying for two bases… As for Campaneris, he couldn’t hear our third baseman yelling about Perez because of the crowd noise.”

The sinkerballing Billingham, a .500 pitcher during the regular season, struck out seven batters and allowed a mere three hits over an eight-inning stint.  “I don’t usually strike out that many batters,” said Billingham, not known for power-pitching ability, in an interview with the Associated Press.  “The twilight no doubt helped me.” The tenuous mix of shadows and glare also helped Blue Moon Odom, who struck out 11 Reds in seven innings. During the regular season, Odom had managed a high-water mark of nine K’s.


A’s Acorns: Perhaps angered by Pete Rose’s disparaging remarks about Catfish Hunter after Game Two, a group of fans seated down the left field line pelted the Reds’ left fielder with an array of foods and other disposable household goods.   “One guy out there must have been a grocer,” Rose said to Gannett News Service.  “They threw everything, including oranges and eggs at me.”… Tonight’s game might not have been possible if not for the surprise assistance of a pair of helicopters. Amidst reports that the Series might be shifted to San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, which features artificial turf, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered the use of two helicopters to dry the natural grass playing field of the Oakland Coliseum.  The strategy enabled the Series to resume today, but the field, featuring a smattering of puddles, appeared softened by the recent rains… Although the Reds won tonight’s critical matchup, a piece of unique strategy by Williams left a lasting impression on the fans watching the game at the Coliseum and on national television.  With Joe Morgan on third and Bobby Tolan on second in the eighth inning, Rollie Fingers faced the Reds’ cleanup batter, Johnny Bench. Fingers ran the count to three-and-two, prompting a visit from Williams.  The manager pointed to Bench and the on-deck circle, and then aimed his finger in the direction of first base, as if to indicate to Fingers and Gene Tenace that he wanted to intentionally walk Bench.  As he went through the motions of calling for the ball-four pitchout, physically pointing at just about everyone in sight, Williams told Fingers to throw a slider over the middle of the plate.  After the conference on the mound broke up, Tenace stood straight up behind the plate, signaling for the intentional walk with his right hand.  As Fingers began his delivery, Tenace stepped out briefly, then retreated toward his usual position, squatting to receive the pitch.  Bench, anticipating the automatic ball four pitchout, watched as Fingers threw a sharp slider that crossed the outside corner of the plate.   Bench started to throw his bat away and run to first, before realizing that he had just witnessed “strike three.”… Williams had previously tried the unusual trick play, which he learned from famed manager Billy Southworth, during his minor league managing days.  “It never worked for me the few times I tried it in the minors,” Williams admitted to Al Hirshberg of Sport Magazine. “I never tried it in the majors until tonight.  I think the only guy in the ballpark who saw it coming was [Joe] Morgan.  At the last minute, he yelled to Bench, ‘Be alive!’ but it was too late.” Home-plate umpire Mel Steiner watched Fingers’ slider nick the outside corner and signaled strike three, sending an embarrassed Bench back to the Reds’ dugout.  After an intentional walk to Tony Perez, Fingers retired Denis Menke on a pop-up to keep the Reds from scoring another run… The 1-0 win for the Reds underscored the domination of pitching in the Series.  Through the first three games, the Reds and A’s have combined for nine runs, for an average score of 2-1. NBC television opened up its broadcast of Game Four by discussing the extreme low-scoring nature of the Series, which has left some critics pining for more offensive action.  Given the absence of Reggie Jackson from the lineup, the A’s’ lack of offense is somewhat understandable; the Reds’ batting order, however, features Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, and Tony Perez in its top five.


DATE: 10/19

The Oakland A’s are just one win away from their first World Championship since moving to the Bay Area four years ago—and the first for the franchise since the Philadelphia A’s’ title in 1930. Thanks to arguably the most experienced bench in baseball, the A’s staged a dramatic ninth-inning comeback on their way to a 3-2 win in Game Four of the World Series. The A’s now lead the Series, three games to one.

In the fourth game pitching matchup, Cincinnati skipper Sparky Anderson chose hard-throwing left-hander Don Gullett to face Oakland’s 19-game winner, Ken Holtzman.  With the game again scheduled to be played during the twilight hours, Anderson hoped that A’s hitters would have difficulty seeing Gullett’s quick, rising fastball and hard slider. “The twilight here is hell for hitters,” Dick Williams told the New York Daily News, in describing one of the most distressing hitting features of the Oakland Coliseum.

While Gullett overpowered Oakland batters with his 90-mile-per-hour fastball, Holtzman kept the Reds off balance with an excellent curveball. The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fifth, when Gene Tenace measured a Gullett fastball, pounding it over the left field wall.  The solo home run by the newly discovered World Series hero, who now has three home runs in four Series games, gave the A’s a 1-0 lead heading into the late innings.

In the eighth inning, Reds shortstop Dave Concepcion bounded a leadoff grounder between short and third. Campy Campaneris made a fine, backhanded pickup, but had no chance to throw out his fleet-footed counterpart. Instead of allowing Gullett to attempt a bunt, Anderson inserted veteran Julian Javier as a pinch-hitter.  An experienced handler of the bat, Javier softly bunted the ball toward Sal Bando at third base. Bando threw to first for the sure out, allowing Concepcion moved up to second. Pete Rose followed by smashing a pitch up the middle.  The ball deflected off Holtzman’s glove toward Dick Green, who fielded the misdirected drive and retired Rose at first.  The 1-4-3 putout enabled Concepcion to advance to third.

With two left-handed hitters scheduled to bat and Holtzman still pitching well, Williams walked to the mound. The A’s’ manager surprised several observers on press row by asking for the ball from Holtzman and summoning Vida Blue from the bullpen.

Blue walked Joe Morgan, the most patient of the Reds’ hitters, and one of the National League’s fastest and smartest baserunners.   Bobby Tolan followed by stroking a clean double down the right-field line.  By the time Matty Alou retrieved the ball in the corner and returned it to the infield, both Concepcion and Morgan scored.  Williams’ unorthodox decision to use Blue over Holtzman had backfired. “The decision was mine,” Williams emphasized to reporters.  “I’ll live and die with it.”  The Reds now led, 2-1, and would continue to hold the advantage as they entered the bottom of the ninth.

Reliever Pedro Borbon faced backup first baseman Mike Hegan, who had once again replaced Mike Epstein for defensive purposes.  Hegan grounded weekly to Denis Menke at third base for the first out. Williams then pinch-hit for George Hendrick, calling upon late-season sensation Gonzalo Marquez, nicknamed “Mandrake the Magician” by A’s broadcaster Monte Moore.  The Reds’ scouting report, compiled by superscout Ray Shore, indicated that Marquez usually hit ground balls up the middle.  Strangely, shortstop Dave Concepcion, who previously played with Marquez in the Venezuelan Winter League, positioned himself several strides to the left of second base. Using a compact swing, Marquez chopped the ball—up the middle. The high-hopper was not hit hard, but managed to elude both Concepcion and Morgan for a one-out single. 

Pinch-runner Allan Lewis, the “Panamanian Express” who has been used almost exclusively on the base paths, entered the game for Marquez.  Anderson told Borbon to check Lewis at first base, but not to throw over.  Borbon ignored the order, tried to pick Lewis off of first base, and then ran the count to two-and-one on Tenace.   Annoyed by Borbon’s lack of concentration, Anderson decided to bring in his best reliever Clay Carroll. Tenace responded with a ground single to left, pushing Lewis to second. With the oft-injured Dick Green representing the next scheduled batter for the A’s, Williams instructed his most seasoned pinch-hitter to make his way to the plate. 

Don Mincher had struggled after his mid-season acquisition from Texas, batting a mere .148 in an Oakland uniform. When incumbent Epstein had been forced to the sidelines with an eye problem, Mincher filled in at first base and failed to drive in a single run. “The Mule” ultimately returned to the bench, where he failed to hit a single home run and managed only five RBIs. Mincher finished the season with a career-low .216 batting average.

Anderson resisted the urge to play the percentages in Game Four and chose not to call upon hard-throwing left-hander Tom Hall, who was already warming up in the bullpen.  Anderson instead decided to stay with Carroll, who has handled left-handed hitters with regularity throughout the regular season.

Mincher had not swung a bat in a game since the regular season finale.  Although he had been used as a pinch-hitter in the playoffs against Detroit, Mincher had taken three pitches—all called strikes. Williams reminded Mincher to be more aggressive in this at-bat against Carroll.  “I told him to go up there swinging,” Williams said after the game in an interview with sportswriter Dave Nightingale.

The advice not withstanding, Mincher took the first pitch for a ball.  With the count one-and-oh, Carroll threw a fastball over the middle of the plate. Mincher’s uppercut swing enabled him to lift the ball over the infield. Mincher’s golf shot into the alley scored Lewis with the tying run and sent Tenace, representing the potential game-winning run, to third base. 

Having done his job, Mincher now left the game for a pinch-runner, Blue Moon Odom. In the meantime, Williams called on his third pinch-hitter of the inning, Angel Mangual, as a replacement for Rollie Fingers at the plate.  The youthful outfielder represented an interesting choice for Williams, given the manager’s displeasure with Mangual’s frequent failures to advance runners during the regular season.  With the Cincinnati infield drawn in, Mangual hacked at the first pitch, sending a routine grounder toward the right side of the infield.  Playing a shallow second base, Joe Morgan couldn’t reach Mangual’s dribbler, which squeezed through the infield, giving the A’s their most dramatic win of the Series. The three pinch-hitters, all summoned by Williams during the ninth-inning comeback, had each come through against Cincinnati pitching.


A’s Acorns: Unbelievably, Williams’ ninth-inning maneuvering received a smattering of second-guessing in the Oakland Coliseum press box. “Dick Williams keeps making mistakes, and he lucks out every game,” said one National League manager, according to a story by Larry Claflin in the Boston Herald. Exactly what mistakes by Williams was the unnamed manager referring to?  In the ninth inning, Williams had used three pinch-hitters, all of whom delivered, and two pinch-runners, one of whom scored. If Williams had managed any less aggressively, the A’s might not have won… In addition to Marquez and Mincher, another late-season acquisition helped the A’s to their third win of the World Series.  In the fifth inning, right fielder Matty Alou robbed the Reds of a certain double when he one-handed a Pete Rose drive and crashed into the outfield wall.  One inning later, Alou made another fine one-handed catch when he raced in and snared Johnny Bench’s sinking line drive… Oakland pitching has played a critical role through the first four games, shutting down the front three of the Reds’ intimidating lineup.  The first three Cincinnati hitters—Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Bobby Tolan—have combined to produce four hits in 34 World Series at-bats.  As a result of Oakland’s concerted pitching efforts against Rose, Morgan, and Tolan, the Reds’ fourth and fifth-place hitters have enjoyed few run-scoring opportunities.  Bench and Tony Perez have teamed up on 12 hits, but have not a single RBI.


 DATE: 10/20

If the A’s somehow how go on to lose the World Series, they may look back at Game Five as the turning point. A questionable baserunning decision in the ninth inning suddenly ended the fifth game, with the Reds securing a needed 3-2 win to stay alive in the best-of-seven matchup. The Reds now trail the World Series, three games to two.

Regardless of the eventual outcome of the Series, the A’s knew that they would be playing their final home game of 1972.  A packed house filled the Oakland Coliseum on a beautiful Friday afternoon, with Catfish Hunter facing Reds starter Jim McGlothlin in what appeared to be another major pitching mismatch for the A’s.  Yet, the Reds’ offense quickly did its best to remove the advantage. Pete Rose led off the game against cracked Hunter’s first pitch over the 375-foot marker in right-center field.

The A’s eclipsed the 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the second inning, scoring three runs on Gene Tenace’s record-tying fourth home run of the Series.  Tenace, who hit all of five home runs during the regular season, matched the all-time mark for most home runs in one World Series.

The Reds and A’s traded runs in the fourth, before Cincinnati closed to within one run in the fifth.  Yet, Hunter failed to last the minimum five innings needed to claim the win for himself. He gave way to the Oakland bullpen, which continued to preserve the lead. 

With Rollie Fingers on the mound in the eighth and the A’s just six outs away from the title, Joe Morgan walked, stole second, and scored the tying run on Bobby Tolan’s single to right. Tolan eventually made it to third base with two outs, but was left stranded when Fingers fanned Denis Menke.

Fingers remained in the game to pitch the ninth, surrendering a leadoff single to Cesar Geronimo. Sparky Anderson decided not to pinch-hit for Ross Grimsley, instead allowing the relief pitcher to attempt a sacrifice bunt on his own.  Grimsley popped the ball in the air, a few feet in front of the mound.  Instead of catching the ball for a sure out and attempting to double Geronimo off first, Fingers allowed the ball to drop. Fingers hesitated for a moment, then fumbled the ball, realizing he had no chance to retire Geronimo, who had already started running toward second. Fingers then recovered and threw to first, but his toss sailed wide of Ted Kubiak. The throw pulled Kubiak into foul territory, but the acrobatic second baseman managed to tag Grimsley out. At worst, the A’s should have recorded one out and held Geronimo at first.  At best, they might have turned a critical double play.  Unfortunately, they had done neither.

Another mistake soon followed. Dave Concepcion hit a ground ball to third, but Sal Bando bobbled the ball for an error, with Geronimo holding at second base. Rose then laced a single to center field, scoring Geronimo with the go-ahead run.

For the first time on the afternoon, the A’s found themselves trailing. Anderson left Grimsley in to start the ninth, but the erratic left-hander walked Tenace to start the inning. Playing for the tie, Dick Williams elected not to hit for Kubiak.  The second baseman squared to bunt, but popped up to Tony Perez at first for an easy out. Williams then decided to insert pitcher Blue Moon Odom as a pinch-runner for Tenace, and sent up backup catcher Dave Duncan to pinch-hit for reliever Dave Hamilton.  Anderson countered by bringing in sinkerballing right-hander Jack Billingham, usually a starter, to relieve Grimsley.  Duncan, the forgotten man of the post-season but an accomplished low-fastball hitter, lined a single down the left field line.  By the time Rose retrieved the ball, Odom had reached third base. Billingham now prepared to face the righty-swinging Campy Campaneris, who had gone hitless in four at-bats.

            Campaneris walked down the line to talk to third base coach Irv Noren, lending credence to press box speculation that a squeeze bunt might be in order. Yet, the strategy session turned out to be nothing more than a decoy; Campaneris was swinging away. Falling behind in the count at 0-and-2, Campy weakly punched a short pop-up down the right-field line, not far beyond the first base bag. Morgan, with the best angle toward the ball, drifted into foul territory.  About 10 feet past first base, Morgan called off Perez, and with his back to home plate, guided the ball into his glove for the inning’s second out.

Even though Morgan made the catch only a few feet behind the bag, Odom sprung from third base and began an all-out dash for home plate.  Stumbling momentarily on the wet grass, Morgan fell to one knee, and then propped himself back onto his feet.  Morgan threw a strike to Johnny Bench, who blocked the plate and applied his glove to Odom as he crossed home.

Home-plate umpire Bob Engel, down on one knee, his mask off, and his eyes pointed directly toward the plate, fired his right arm into the air.  “Out,” Engel bellowed, ending the game.  Odom immediately yelled at Engel, enraged by the call.  Odom sprung himself from the dirt and bumped into Engel, who had stationed himself in a low crouch near home plate. Odom’s protest did nothing to change Engel’s mind—and couldn’t reverse a heartbreaking loss for the stunned fans watching at the Coliseum.


A’s Acorns: As he sat at his locker, bandaging a bleeding right knee, Odom initially refused to answer questions from the media.  After showering, the angry pitcher finally agreed to talk.  “I was safe,” Odom insisted an interview with United Press International. “I know I was.” Television replays showed otherwise. Bench, who had blocked Odom from the plate and tagged him before he touched home, questioned the pitcher’s decision to run in the first place.  “He was dead,” Bench said flatly to the Associated Press.  “It wouldn’t even have been close if the guy [Morgan] hadn’t slipped.” Dick Williams, who agreed that the umpire had made the right call, contradicted Bench’s criticism of Odom. “Anytime you get a ball like that down the foul line,” Williams said to the New York Times,  “even though short, you’ve got a chance.  We had both men tagging up and when Morgan slipped, Odom kept going.”  Odom, however, hadn’t noticed Morgan’s brief fall.  “I didn’t actually see him slip,” Blue Moon admitted.  “I was going all the way because he had difficult position catching the ball and because he doesn’t have the strongest arm.” Yet, Morgan delivered a perfect throw to Bench… Later, when questioned by the media, Williams explained his decision to use one of his pitchers as a pinch-runner, a strategy not favored by many managers. “I hated to do it and usually don’t, but we had already used [pinch-running specialist] Allan Lewis,” Williams reasoned. “You have to take the chance. Odom loves to run the bases and knows how.  He took a calculated risk and nearly got away with it.”… After Tenace hit his latest home run, the scoreboard at the Oakland Coliseum flashed the message that the A’s’ catcher had equaled a record shared by Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Duke Snider, and former Yankee slugger Hank Bauer. Coincidentally, Bauer managed the A’s during their years in Kansas City… Even though the Reds won the game to stave off elimination and draw closer in the Series, they were clearly upset by the quality of umpiring in Game Five.  Both Pete Rose and Clay Carroll flashed first base umpire Bill Haller the choke sign during the game.  Haller ejected Carroll in the ninth inning, one inning after he had already been taken out of the game by Sparky Anderson.  Haller allowed Rose to remain in the game, thereby averting a near riot from the Reds… The Reds are also anxiously anticipating a ruling from Bowie Kuhn on Odom’s bumping of umpire Engel at the end of the game.  “I wonder what the commissioner will do about that?” pondered Reds general manager Bob Howsam in an interview with Cincinnati sportswriter Earl Lawson. The Reds are hoping that Kuhn will suspend Odom for the rest of the Series, making him ineligible to pitch in a potential Game Seven matchup.

 DATE: 10/21

The first five games of the World Series provided high drama, all games hanging in the balance until the ninth and all decided by the minimum of one run. Game Six, however, took on a far different tone, as the Reds routed the A’s, 8-1, to force a decisive seventh game at Riverfront Stadium.

Vida Blue, originally scheduled to start Game Four, lasted only five and two-thirds innings in his first start of the postseason. Rookie reliever Dave Hamilton allowed four runs in less than an inning. For the Reds, Bobby Tolan and Dave Concepcion teamed up to steal three bases against the ragged tosses of A’s catcher Gene Tenace, whose awkward release and throwing motion have appeared both strained and painful throughout the Series.  In the meantime, the A’s’ offense managed only seven hits against a quartet of Reds pitchers.  Angel Mangual typified the A’s’ ineptitude when he beat out a ground ball to third base for an apparent infield single, only to be called out for overstepping the first base bag.   The gory details added up to a blowout win for the Reds, who have suddenly gained the momentum in a Series they appeared on the verge of losing.


A’s Acorns: The A’s did not take the Game Six drubbing lightly.  As Campy Campaneris walked to the plate in the eighth inning of the blowout loss, he sounded a message to Reds catcher Johnny Bench.  “We never lose three in a row,” Campy told the future Hall of Famer, according to a report by the Associated Press.  Bench gave the A’s’ shortstop a quick reply. “You’ve never faced the ‘Big Red Machine.’ ”…The “Machine” handled one of Oakland’s best starting pitchers with ease.  Prior to the game, Blue annoyed some of the Reds with what they interpreted as degrading comments.  “Vida’s a fine pitcher, I’m sure,” Joe Morgan told the Associated Press after collecting two hits in the seven-run rout.  “But we faced Steve Carlton [a 27-game winner with the Philadelphia Phillies] all through the year, and he’s the best left-handed pitcher in baseball.”…While Blue’s statements to the media upset the Reds, the A’s came away from Game Six burning with resentment toward Cincinnati’s players.  In the seventh inning, with the Reds already leading by five runs, Bobby Tolan had decided to steal second base.  The Reds had stolen at will throughout the Series, party because of Gene Tenace’s subpar throwing arm and partly due to the inability of Oakland pitchers to hold Cincinnati baserunners close to first base.  Yet, several A’s considered Tolan’s stolen base unnecessary and unsportsmanlike, given the one-sided score.  Later in the inning, Tolan reached third base.  Tenace tried to pick him off by firing quickly to Sal Bando, who drove his leg and arms into Tolan.  Bando claimed that he tripped and fell onto Tolan, but the Reds didn’t believe him. And the Reds offered no apologies for their aggressive baserunning in the late innings. “We’re out to win a World Championship,” Joe Morgan told the Associated Press in defending Tolan’s late-game stolen base.  “You never have enough runs.”… The only good news the A’s received during the game involved the apprehension of a person who had placed a threat on the life of Tenace prior to Game Six.  Police arrested a 32-year-old Louisville, Kentucky man who possessed a loaded gun and a bottle of whiskey.  “It’s terrible something like that has to happen,” a stunned Tenace told the AP. “It’s terrible people can’t go to a ballgame and enjoy the game without that kind of thing.”   Although the threat has clearly shaken him, Tenace has no plans to sit out Game Seven.  “It scares me, but I’ll play tomorrow,” Tenace vowed.  “I’m a little scared, but what can I do, tell the manager not to play me?”… Even in the face of death threats and arrests, the A’s attempted to deflect the situation with morbid humor.  As Tenace fielded questions from writers in the clubhouse, Reggie Jackson offered him some twisted encouragement.  “If you got to go, Gene,” Jackson said, according to the Associated Press, “at least it will be on national television.” Another Oakland slugger felt somewhat left out, with Tenace continuing to receive attention as the target of a deranged man.  “No one would even bother shooting me,” said Mike Epstein, who is hitless in 16 Series at-bats and has failed to fill the left-handed power void in the absence of the injured Jackson. 



DATE: 10/22

When Charlie Finley assumed control of the Kansas City Athletics in 1960, they were the dregs of the American League, a perennial doormat whose main purpose seemed to be that of serving as an unofficial farm team to the mighty New York Yankees. A little more than a decade later, Charlie Finley’s team now calls itself the Oakland A’s—and can now call itself the World Champions of baseball, as well. Such an honor has deservedly come to the Green and Gold, who managed to escape Cincinnati with a razor-thin 3-2 victory in a most dramatic seventh game of the World Series.

Heading into Game Seven, the A’s might not have had much reason to be optimism about gaining a victory. They had had blown a two-game lead in the Series, forcing themselves into having to win a decisive and ultimate game on the road. The Reds had momentum, home field advantage, and one of their hottest starters, Jack Billingham, in their favor heading into the finale. In contrast, Dick Williams had to rely on his third-best starter, Blue Moon Odom, who was not suspended for his bumping of umpire Bob Engel in Game Five.

Prior to the game, oddsmakers liked Cincinnati’s chances of winning a third consecutive game, rating the Reds as 3-to-2 favorites to capture the seventh game.  If the oddsmakers had been right, the Reds would have become the first team in major league history to capture a World Series after losing the first two games at home.

Williams, who has already placed his stamp on the Series with his incessant visits to the pitching mound, prepared several lineup changes for Game Seven. Ever the strategist, Williams wanted to leave nothing to chance in his quest for his first World Championship. Concerned about the Reds’ success in stealing six bases over the last two games of the Series, and 11 in 13 attempts over the duration of the Series, Williams inserted Dave Duncan as his catcher and moved the weak-throwing Gene Tenace to first base.  Williams also installed Angel Mangual as his center fielder. The flurry of moves resulted in the benching of regular first baseman Mike Epstein, who was hitless over the first six games of the Series.

The news did not please Epstein, who felt he had swung the bat well throughout the Series.  “I’ve been hitting the ball hard,” Epstein insisted to Murray Chass of the New York Times.  “I’ve hit seven good shots on the nose, but they’ve been caught.” The absence of Reggie Jackson had placed extra pressure on Epstein to produce left-handed power.  With Jackson unavailable, the Reds had pitched carefully to Epstein, throwing him off-speed pitches just off the outside corner.  For his part, Williams didn’t care why Epstein hadn’t been hitting; he preferred examining bottom-line results.

            After cloudy skies and light rain threatened Game Seven, the weather cleared moments before gametime. A paid crowd of 56,040 fans—including 5,000 standing-room-only customers—streamed into Riverfront Stadium, eclipsing the Reds’ franchise mark set earlier in the Series.  The record gathering reluctantly witnessed two small doses of good fortune for the A’s in the first inning. With one out, Angel Mangual hit a medium-depth line drive into right-center field.  Center fielder Bobby Tolan misjudged the liner, first running in, then trying to retrace his steps backward.  Tolan leapt, the ball caroming off of his glove for a critical three-base error.

After the Tolan error, Joe Rudi flied to shallow left field, with Mangual holding at third. Gene Tenace then hit a chopping grounder to third baseman Denis Menke.  The veteran infielder readied himself to field the routine grounder on a large carom, then watched the ball bounce high after hitting a seam in the artificial turf.  The ball nicked the top of Menke’s glove before rolling into short left field. The bad-hop single gave the A’s an early 1-0 lead.

In the fourth inning, Williams’ seventh-game defensive changes paid a critical dividend. Joe Morgan drew a one-out walk. Having been burned by Reds base stealers throughout the Series, Odom threw over to first base seven times.  Undeterred by the extra attention, Morgan broke for second two pitches later. Duncan snapped quickly out of his crouch and hurled a high but strong throw toward second base. For the first time in the Series, the A’s had thrown Morgan out on a stolen base attempt.

Odom held the Reds scoreless until the fifth.  Tony Perez doubled down the left field line and moved up to second on a one-out walk. Odom then ran the count to two-and-one on Dave Concepcion.  Playing it like the seventh game of the World Series that it was, Williams pulled Odom and replaced him with his best starting pitcher, Catfish Hunter. Catfish completed the walk by throwing two more balls to Concepcion.  With the bases now loaded, Hunter allowed two long fly balls to Mangual in right-center field, the first one scoring the tying run.

Reds skipper Sparky Anderson paid a price for tying the game in the fifth, however, since he used Hal McRae as a pinch-hitter for Billingham, his most effective starter in the World Series. With Billingham out of the game, Pedro Borbon entered and allowed a leadoff single to Campy Campaneris.  After a sacrifice bunt by Mangual, Rudi grounded out to second, as Campy advanced to third. With two out and two bases open, Borbon faced Cincinnati primary nemesis, “Tenace the Menace.”

Curiously, Anderson decided not to intentionally walk Tenace, who had already driven in eight runs on the strength of four home runs in the Series.  Tenace promptly lined a Borbon delivery into the left-field corner to score Campaneris with the go-ahead run. Williams then made a curious move of his own by inserting Allan Lewis as a pinch-runner for Tenace at second base, a decision that upset the Oakland World Series hero.  Although Lewis had successfully stolen six bases in six late-season tries, Tenace considered himself the fifth fastest runner on the team, trailing only Lewis, Campaneris, Reggie Jackson, and Matty Alou.  “Look, I’m not a slow runner,” Tenace pointed out later in an interview with Phil Elderkin of the Christian Science Monitor. “I scored plenty of times from second base during the regular season and I could have done it again.”

Tenace’s protestations aside, Sal Bando followed with a soaring fly ball toward deep center field. When Tolan reached the warning track in pursuit of the drive, his left leg collapsed underneath him, the result of pulling a hamstring. The ball landed on the track, bounced off the wall, and into the glove of the injured Tolan, who did his best to return the ball to the infield. Oakland now led 3-1. The A’s eventually threatened to put the game away when they loaded the bases with two outs, but reliever Clay Carroll fanned Dick Green to end the threat.

In the sixth inning, the Reds put runners on second and third with two outs before Hunter retired Menke on a fly ball to short right field.  In the seventh, Hunter retired the Reds in order.  Hunter’s effectiveness that inning convinced Williams to let him start the eighth, with the top of the Reds’ order scheduled to bat: Pete Rose, Morgan, and George Foster, who had replaced the hobbled Tolan.

Rose bounced a grounder up the middle past Hunter into center field.  With the left-handed Morgan set to bat, Williams replaced Hunter with another starter, Ken Holtzman, who opened up Game Four. The lefty-lefty strategy did not work.  Morgan doubled to right field, advancing Rose to third base.  When Morgan’s liner bounced off the corner wall away from right fielder Matty Alou, Reds third-base coach Alex Grammas momentarily waved Rose home, then changed his mind.  Several Reds players believed that Rose would have scored easily had Grammas not told him to retreat.

Anderson then sent up the veteran Julian Javier to pinch-hit for Foster, an inexperienced backup who has played sporadically in 1972. Williams countered with his ace reliever, Rollie Fingers, making his sixth appearance in seven Series games.

Three days earlier, Fingers wouldn’t have believed that he could pitch in Game Seven, having complained of a dead arm. With an off day for travel and no need to pitch in the Game Six rout, Fingers now felt rejuvenated for the Series’ decisive matchup.

Anderson called Javier back to the dugout and sent up the lefty-hitting Joe Hague to face Fingers.  The backup first baseman popped up harmlessly to Campaneris, who made the catch in short left field. Williams instructed Fingers to intentionally pass Johnny Bench, in order to set up a double-play opportunity.  The intentional walk strategy seemed dubious, since it put the go-ahead run on base and brought up Cincinnati’s hottest hitter, first baseman Perez.

                Hitting over .400 in the Series, Perez once again hit the ball well, but his long fly ball found Alou in right field. Rose scored on the sacrifice fly, bringing the Reds within one run. After Bench surprisingly stole second, Fingers induced Denis Menke into hitting a routine fly ball to Rudi in left.

The A’s had stopped the Reds’ rally just in time, preserving an uncomfortable one-run lead. Williams allowed Fingers to bat in the ninth, not wanting to remove his best reliever.  In the bottom half of the inning, Fingers retired Cesar Geronimo on a pop-up and Dave Concepcion on a grounder. Having already used up his best pinch-hitting options, Anderson sent up the weak-hitting Darrel Chaney to bat for pitcher Tom Hall.

Much to the displeasure of Williams, Fingers hit Chaney with a pitch. That enabled the Reds to bring Pete Rose to the plate. “Charley Hustle” was batting only .220 in the Series, but had powered a home run while batting left-handed to lead off Game Five.

Batting out of his severe left-handed crouch, Rose intensely eyed Fingers and drove a letter-high fastball to left-center field. The ball was hit well and appeared to have a chance of splitting the gap, though well short of home run distance. Still, if the ball eluded both Rudi and Mangual, Chaney would be able to score the tying run from first base.

The most reliable of the A’s defensively, Joe Rudi calmly took several short strides toward left-center, stopped in front of the warning track, and prepared to make a careful two-handed catch. Rudi gleefully clutched the ball in his glove, finalizing the A’s’ assault on the Bay Area’s first World Championship.

Fingers hugged catcher Dave Duncan, while Sal Bando jumped on the A’s’ relief ace from behind. The rest of the A’s piled onto the field from the dugout and the bullpen. In the meantime, Dick Williams ran across the third-base line and headed toward first baseman Mike Hegan, who readied himself for an embrace with his manager.

After Hegan, Williams, Duncan, Bando, Fingers, and the rest of the A’s completed their on-field jumping and back-slapping, the A’s moved their celebration to the clubhouse.  In the clubhouse showers, Campy Campaneris, Dick Green, Joel Horlen, and Don Mincher sang a strange rendition of the National Anthem under the guidance of conductor Vida Blue.  Another group of A’s—Bando, Duncan, Rudi, and Mike Epstein—poured champagne over their own heads in front of a movie camera. Outside of the clubhouse, several of the Oakland wives chanted, “We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1.”

Near the lockers, a West Coast baseball writer poured champagne over the head of Charlie Finley. “This is the greatest day in my life,” Finley cried out to a reporter.  “None of you can appreciate what this means to me.” A reporter asked Finley about the second greatest occurrence in his life.  “That was when my wife accepted my [marriage] proposal,” Finley gushed. “But wait a minute. You better make this my second biggest thrill.  My wife might not like it the other way.” Two of Finley’s children, 17-year-old Martin and 15-year-old Luke, joined their father as he held court with the media.  When one of his sons tried to answer a reporter’s question, the elder Finley instructed him otherwise.  “You nod, I’ll answer the questions,” the owner said in typically Finley-esque manner.

Finley did the talking—but only after Gene Tenace had done most of the hitting during the Series. Within a few moments, Tenace received word that he had been named the World Series’ Most Valuable Player by Sport Magazine, which would reward him with a new car. “How the hell can you win a car, Gino?” shouted injured reliever Darold Knowles, needling Tenace about being removed for a pinch-runner in the sixth inning of Game Seven.  “You can’t even go nine innings.”

What Tenace had done was impressive. In a Series that has been criticized for a lack of hitting by both teams, Tenace tied a Fall Classic record by powering four home runs, and also drove in nine of Oakland’s 16 runs.  The catcher-first baseman also established a new Series record with a .913 slugging percentage, bettering the marks of Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Tenace modestly discussed his role in beating the Reds.  “I don’t feel like a hero,” Tenace told reporters, while overlooking the fact that he had mauled Cincinnati pitching at a .348 pace.  “There was no one hero on this club,” Tenace insisted.  “There were 25 heroes.”  The statistics told another story.  Other than Tenace, no other Oakland player drove in more than one run in the Series.


In another section of the clubhouse, Dick Williams talked to members of the national media. One writer asked Williams to compare the ‘72 A’s to the Boston Red Sox’ team he had guided to the pennant in 1967.  “This is a much better club than we had in 1967,” Williams told The Sporting News without hesitation.  Williams cited the depth of the A’s as far superior to that of the Red Sox.  Williams then compared the A’s to the Brooklyn Dodgers’ teams he had played for two decades earlier.  “This club is even better than the Dodgers of the fifties,” Williams proclaimed. Few fans in Oakland will argue that point—now that Tenace, Rudi, Campaneris, Bando, Hunter, Holtzman, Fingers, and the rest of the Mustache Gang are the World Champions of baseball in 1972. 


Memories of the Mustache Gang: Introduction and Purpose

Memories of the Mustache Gang: Today's Installment

Memories of the Mustache Gang: First Half of Season

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