OAKLAND (AP) — Rollie Fingers figured he would have shaved his signature handlebar mustache by now. He claims he almost did once after losing both games of a doubleheader, before changing his mind.
He even had a razor in hand that day. Fingers lost twice at Minnesota on Sept. 11, 1972.
"I said, 'Nah, I better not, I'm afraid what I'll look like without it,'" he recalled. "I didn't cut it off."
The Hall of Fame closer had big motivation to first grow his facial hair 40 years ago: a $300 offer from then-Oakland Athletics owner Charlie Finley to every player who grew a mustache to start the season.
"Forty years, spring training '72," he said. "That's the only reason I grew it, 300 bucks out of Charlie. He told everybody on opening day if you had a mustache you got 300 bucks. He came down to the clubhouse opening day and had 30 checks with him all for 300 bucks — four coaches, manager."
Fingers, speaking Friday as Oakland began a two-day celebration of the 40-year anniversary of its first World Series team, chose a unique shape for his 'stache.
"Just being different," Fingers said. "Everybody else was just growing a mustache. I said, 'What the heck, I'll do a handlebar.' It was probably stupid, but then we win the World Series in '72 and then you win in '73 and then you win in '74, it's kind of tough to shave it off after that. That's why I kept it."
These days, he regularly accessorizes his look by sporting rings from his first World Series and the Hall of Fame.
"These are the everyday rings, yep," he said. "Won't get rid of those."
An on-field reunion of the 1972 team will take place before Saturday night's game against Cleveland, and 10,000 fans will receive a Fingers bobblehead doll. He also will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Others taking part in the festivities will be 1972 AL MVP Vida Blue, World Series MVP Gene Tenace and All-Stars Bert Campaneris, Joe Rudi and Ken Holtzman — as well as Tim Cullen, Dave Duncan, Dick Green, Dave Hamilton, Mike Hegan, Joe Horlen, Darold Knowles, Ted Kubiak and Bob Locker.
The 1972 A's won the Bay Area's first World Series title in the club's fifth season in Oakland, beating the favored Cincinnati Reds in seven games. Oakland then won the World Series again each of the next two years, a three-year reign that hasn't been repeated by a professional team in the Bay Area.