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1976 Oakland Athletics
1976 Oakland Athletics / Franchise: Oakland Athletics / BR Team Page
Record: 87-74, Finished 2nd in AL Western Division (1976 AL)
Managed by Chuck Tanner
Coaches: Bobby Hofman, Joe Lonnett, Alex Monchak and Wes Stock
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1976 Oakland Athletics set an American League record with 341 stolen bases, only five behind the all-time mark set by the 1911 New York Giants.
Coming off five straight division titles, they were the last gasp of the great A's team of the 1970s. Tight-fisted owner Charles O. Finley, who had already lost ace P Catfish Hunter to free agency before the 1975 season, could see the writing on the wall, as he knew he would not be able to re-sign the numerous stars on his team whose contracts were about to run out. He took agressive action by trading OF Reggie Jackson and P Ken Holtzman to the Baltimore Orioles just before the start of the season, on April 2nd, netting Ps Mike Torrez and Paul Mitchell and OF Don Baylor in return. In June, he tried to generate some cash flow by selling some of his other top stars, Ps Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers and OF Joe Rudi, in return for money only. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn stepped in and voided the deals, stating they were "not in the best interests of baseball", and setting a rule that henceforward, he had to approve any trade involving a large sum of money. Finley sulked as a result of Kuhn's decision, refusing to use the three players for a week before recanting, and took him to court, but lost. In spite of all this turmoil, the A's managed to stay in the race to the end, finishing only 2 1/2 games behind the Kansas City Royals, who won their first-ever division title that year. It was a changing of the guard: the Royals would win six division titles between 1976 and 1985, while the A's would win only one between 1976 and 1988...
After the season, the expected exodus of star players did happen: Fingers, Rudi, SS Bert Campaneris, 3B Sal Bando, C/1B Gene Tenace and Baylor all left via free agency, signing huge contracts in the process and leaving the A's in tatters.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Rollie Fingers and Phil Garner
- AL Gold Glove: Joe Rudi (OF)
AL East: Baltimore • Boston • Cleveland • Detroit • Milwaukee • New York
NL East: Chicago • Montréal • New York • Philadelphia • Pittsburgh • St. Louis
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