Charlie Finley wants to form International League

CHICAGO -- Charlie Finley, the controversial former owner of the Oakland A's and one of baseball's most colorful innovators before he sold them last November, says he is 'seriously considering' forming a global league to compete with the American and National leagues.

Finley's creation -- the International League -- would be limited to 12 teams and would include franchises in Japan, Mexico City, Cuba and Venezuela, the 20-year baseball club owner said Thursday.


'We'd get all the players we need by raiding the hell out of the major-league clubs and their farm systems,' said Finley, whose A's won three world championships under his stewardship.

'I don't know if we'd get any of the so-called superstars. But I do know this: If the strike lasts long enough there will be a lot of unemployed ballplayers.'

Finley, owner of an insurance company in Chicago, said the idea of his world league was not spawned by the lengthy baseball strike.

'Its been in the back of my mind for more than a year or so since I sold out,' he said. 'The only difference is that now it's in the front of my mind.'


Franchises would be located in Mexico City, Havana, Tokyo, Caracas, Honolulu, Vancouver, British Columbia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Denver, Miami, New Orleans and East Rutherford, N.J., home of the 76,891-seat Meadowlands Complex.

Finley said he already has begun approaching millionaire sportsmen with the idea. He refused to identify potential owners but said he's been in contact with such interested notables as oil magnate Marvin Davis of Denver and Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., of Youngstown, Ohio, whose bid to purchase the Chicago White Sox was rejected by major-league owners earlier this year.

'I've already told Mr. DeBartolo he can have his pick -- he can either take Chicago or Washington, D.C.,' Finley said. '(Baseball Commissioner Bowie) Kuhn's been trying to get the owners to expand into Washington for more than 10 years. But we're going to beat him to the punch.'

Finley, whose bad blood toward the baseball owners is no secret, said his league would not be formed out of vengeance.

'I am very sincere about this,' he said. 'Many fans are sick and tired of the way the major leagues are being run and are sick and tired of this strike business. We would give them a new, modern league.'


Finley got out of baseball after Kuhn nullified his $3.5 million sale of three players in June, 1975 -- Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers and Vida Blue.

'All I was trying to so was sell two of the players I know I was going to lose because they were going to become free agents,' he said, referring to Rudi and Fingers.

'Kuhn said I couldn't do it, that I wasn't entitled to any compensation for them,' he added, noting the irony that the current baseball strike involves compensation as the key issue.

'I'm behind the players 1,000 percent,' he said. 'I hope they win this strike. But win or lose, I want them to know they can always join me in my new International League.'

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