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tions with locals. You’d see kids, like all other kids across the country, weather permitting, playing games at recess. Farmers on big green John Deere tractors preparing the land for spring planting.

In the Amish community near Seymour, they still use horses to farm or that is the way I remember it. I didn’t see a lot of mules on my drives through the state which is widely known for this hearty farm animal.

For many farmers throughout the nation a Missouri mule was a prized possession. A few high school teams in the state have chosen the mule as team mascots and then there was “Charlie O,” the A’s longtime mascot when Charlie Finley was the colorful owner of the Kansas City A’s. One of my regrets was that by the time I began hanging out in Kansas City, Finley had moved the A’s to Oakland where his teams won three World Series titles.

Everybody seemed to dislike, even hate, Finley who advocated orange balls and bases but couldn’t pull that off. He did succeed in getting the owners to play night games in the World Series and influenced the adoption of the designated hitter rule. I hated him for that.

He chose the draft picks for his team, he wrote copy for the team yearbook, he made out the song list for the organist and designed the uniforms. He bought white kangaroo shoes for his players. It was all about Charlie.

With a phone phobia that never subsided, Finley always tried to keep a phone within arm’s length. He even had phones installed in the office bathrooms. According to an A’s public relations officer I once met, it became a source of great joy to staff who loathed the owner, to see him make a bathroom stop; they would then dial the phone and hang up as soon as he answered.

“As his temper erupted,” the former employee said, “we had the time of our lives knowing there was nothing he could do but cuss a blue streak.”

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