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1961 Kansas City Athletics season

The 1961 Kansas City Athletics season was a season in American baseball. In their seventh season in Kansas City, the 61st overall for the franchise, the A's finished with a record of 61–100, tying the expansion Washington Senators for ninth place, last in the newly expanded 10-team American League, 47½ games behind the World Champion New York Yankees.

Offseason

On December 19, 1960, Charles "Charlie O." Finley purchased a controlling interest in the team from Arnold Johnson's estate. In a highly publicized move, he purchased a bus, pointed it in the direction of New York, and burned it to symbolize the end of the “special relationship” with the Yankees. He called another press conference to burn the existing lease at Municipal Stadium, where the team played its home games, which included the despised "escape clause."[1]

Finley made numerous renovations to the stadium, including lighting outside, and radio broadcasts in the restrooms. [2] The seats were painted yellow, turquoise and orange, while a picnic area was added behind new bleacher seats in right field. In addition, lights were added to the dugout. [3]

In addition, Finley introduced new uniforms, which had "Kansas City" on the road uniforms for the first time ever and an interlocking "KC" on the cap.

Notable transactions

Regular season

Finley hired Frank Lane, a veteran baseball man with a reputation as a prolific trader, as general manager on April 27.[5] However, Lane did not even last through the season, as he was fired on August 22.[5] He was replaced by Pat Friday,[5] whose sole qualification for the job was that he managed one of Finley's insurance offices. With the firing of Lane in 1961, Finley effectively became a one-man band as owner, president and de facto general manager, and would remain so for the duration of his ownership.

  • Part of the tension between Finley and Lane occurred when Finley advised Lane that he wanted to move the club's spring training facilities from West Palm Beach, Florida to Chandler, Arizona. Lane had negotiated with city officials in Chandler and was prepared to sign a lease. A report on the radio had indicated that Finley reached his own deal with West Palm Beach and signed a five year lease extension. [6]
  • On June 14, 1961, the feud between Charlie Finley and Frank Lane worsened as Lane traded fan favourite Bud Daley. Lane stated this was done in an attempt to embarrass the owner. [7] Lew Krausse, Jr. made his major league debut on June 16, 1961 versus the Los Angeles Angels. Krausse had received a bonus of $125,000 to sign with the club. Finley admitted that he had the highly touted Krausse appear in a game so that fans could forget about the Bud Daley trade.[8]
  • August 17, 1961: Kansas City Star sportswriter Ernie Mehl had published a story indicating that Charlie Finley was ready to relocate the club to Dallas, Texas. [9] Mabel found out about the proposed relocation because Finley went on a trip to Dallas with the supervisor of American League umpires Cal Hubbard. During the trip, the two visited the Cotton Bowl and Burnett Field. Finley was furious and it led to a long rivalry between the two. Three days later, Finley attempted to publicly humiliate Mehl by having an Ernie Mehl Appreciation Day. Ceremonies for Mehl were held in between a doubleheader with the Chicago White Sox. Finley presented Mehl with a Poison Pen Award in absentia.[10]

Gimmicks

  • Finley had a mechanical rabbit named Harvey installed to the right of home plate. Whenever the umpire required more baseballs, Harvey would emerge from a spot in the grass with a cage of baseballs. As the rabbit would emerge, the organist would play Here Comes Peter Cottontail. [11]
  • Sheep were on a tall rocky hill beyond the right field fence. Finley had employees dressed as sheep herders, and the employees would ring a bell whenever an Athletics player hit a home run. [12]

Season standings

American League W L Pct. GB
New York Yankees 109 53 .673 --
Detroit Tigers 101 61 .623 8
Baltimore Orioles 95 67 .586 14
Chicago White Sox 86 76 .531 23
Cleveland Indians 78 83 .484 30.5
Boston Red Sox 76 86 .469 33
Minnesota Twins 70 90 .438 38
Los Angeles Angels 70 91 .435 38.5
Kansas City Athletics 61 100 .379 47.5
Washington Senators 61 100 .379 47.5

Notable transactions

Roster

1961 Kansas City Athletics
Roster
Pitchers Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Other batters

Manager

Coaches

Player stats

Batting

Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
3B Causey, WayneWayne Causey 104 312 86 .276 8 49

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Bertoia, RenoReno Bertoia 39 120 29 .242 0 13
Tuttle, BillBill Tuttle 25 84 22 .262 0 8
Pilarcik, AlAl Pilarcik 35 60 12 .200 1 9
Boyd, BobBob Boyd 26 48 11 .229 0 9
Virgil, OzzieOzzie Virgil 11 21 3 .143 0 0
Johnson, StanStan Johnson 3 3 0 .000 0 0
Courtney, ClintClint Courtney 1 1 0 .000 0 0

Pitching

Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Archer, JimJim Archer 39 205.1 9 15 3.20 110
Kirk, BillBill Kirk 1 3 0 0 12.00 3

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Bass, NormNorm Bass 40 170.2 11 11 4.69 74
Daley, BudBud Daley 16 63.2 4 8 4.95 36
Krausse, LewLew Krausse 12 55.2 2 5 4.85 32
Ditmar, ArtArt Ditmar 20 54 0 5 5.67 19

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV ERA SO
Kunkel, BillBill Kunkel 58 3 4 4 5.18 46
Fischer, BillBill Fischer 15 1 0 2 3.86 12
Wyatt, JohnJohn Wyatt 5 0 0 1 2.45 6
Giel, PaulPaul Giel 1 0 0 0 37.80 1

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Hawaii Islanders Pacific Coast League Tommy Heath and Bill Werle
AA Shreveport Sports Southern Association Les Peden
A Portsmouth-Norfolk Tides Sally League Granny Hamner
B Lewiston Broncos Northwest League John McNamara
C Visalia Athletics California League Bobby Hofman
C Pocatello Bannocks Pioneer League Bert Thiel
D Sarasota Sun Sox Florida State League Bill Robertson
D Albuquerque Dukes Sophomore League Grady Wilson

LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Lewiston

Pocatello affiliation shared with San Francisco Giants

References

External links

  • 1961 Kansas City Athletics team page at Baseball Reference
  • 1961 Kansas City Athletics team page at www.baseball-almanac.com
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