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Based largely on interviews with former players, team executives, and journalists, Billy Ball captures Billy Martin's homecoming to the Bay area in 1980, his immediate embrace by Oakland fans, and the A's return to playoff baseball.
In the early 1970s, the Oakland Athletics became only the second team in major-league baseball history to win three consecutive World Series championships. But as the decade came to a close, the A's were in free fall, having lost 108 games in 1979 while drawing just 307,000 fans. Free agency had decimated the A's, and the team's owner, Charlie Finley, was looking for a buyer. First, though, he had to bring fans back to the Oakland Coliseum. Enter Billy Martin.
Dale Tafoya describes what, at the time, seemed like a match made in baseball heaven. The A's needed a leader to reignite interest in the team. Martin needed a job after his second stint as manager of the New York Yankees came to an abrupt end. Based largely on interviews with former players, team executives, and journalists, Billy Ball captures Martin's homecoming to the Bay area, his immediate embrace by Oakland fans, and the A's return to playoff baseball. In Oakland, Martin's aggressive style of play came to be known as Billy Ball. A's fans and the media loved it.
But, in life and in baseball, all good things must come to an end. Tafoya chronicles Martin's clash with the new A's management and the siren song of the Yankees that lured the manager back to New York in 1983. Still, as the book makes clear, the magical turnaround of the A's has never been forgotten in Oakland.
Running time 8 hrs 14 min