Manager Alvin Dark of the World Series-winning Oakland A’s went home and prayed with his family, then told A’s owner Charles O. Finley he’d take the job another year. Finley and the A’s team are a tough challenge to any manager (Dick Williams walked out on Finley after the A’s won the 1973 Series). But, Dark told reporters later, “we felt this is where the Lord wants to have us.” Finley described him as the best manager he’d ever had.
For Dark, 52, the year has represented a comeback not only in baseball but spiritually. Raised a Bible-Belt Baptist, he was known for his aggressiveness in the fourteen years he played as third baseman and shortstop for six teams. He became manager of the San Francisco Giants in 1961, but many temper tantrums, alleged racism, and marital difficulties later he was fired. Divorced and remarried, he went to work in 1966 for Finley, then in Kansas City, but Finley fired him a year and a half later when Dark sided with players in a dispute. Dark moved on to Cleveland but was sent packing in 1971.
He returned to Florida to take up golf. Somehow he and his wife got involved in home Bible-study groups, and soon they experienced the deeper reality of what they had only professed before. Thus, reported Time, when Dark took over at Oakland this year he announced he had a model for the job: Jesus Christ. The manager said he had given a lot of thought to the way Christ “would handle ballplayers.”
By season’s end it was clear Dark was indeed a new man: no temper explosions, no tongue-lashing of players, no insubordination of Finley (“the Bible teaches you to listen to your boss”)—curiously, a style that causes some to question ...1
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