In his book, Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic: Reggie, Rollie, Catfish and Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s, Jason Turbow takes an in-depth look at the 1970’s Oakland A’s and their controversial owner, Charlie Finley. Beginning with their move from Kansas City to Northern California, Turbow chronicles the climb from unenviable obscurity to unquestionable powerhouse as the A’s win three straight World Championships. Led by a brilliant but meddlesome and mercurial owner, these colorful and combative players would leave their mark on baseball history, only to have the franchise dismantled by Finley’s unnecessary frugalness and the game’s move to free agency.
Swimgin’ A’s is a fascinating look at the inner-workings of a baseball franchise. The book is incredibly well-written and well-researched as Turbow makes baseball come alive and presents the people and personalities in the context of long, grueling seasons rife with dysfunction. Finley fought his players, Finley fought his managers, and players fought their owner and each other. This furthered their reputation around the league as rebels. Finley and his players may not have been popular on the larger landscape of baseball but they, like their uniforms, could not be ignored. They just kept winning. Whether they did this because of, or in spite of, their insufferable owner, is still a subject for debate. There is no question that the Oakland A’s of the 1970’s are one of the greatest teams to step foot on a baseball diamond.
Swingin’ A’s is an entertaining and engaging read for any baseball fan. However, it contains graphic language that some readers may find objectionable. Whatever your opinion of Charlie Finley and his team, The Swingin’ A’s deserve to be remembered for their accomplishments on the field rather than the drama they created off of it.
I was given a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.