(La Porte, IN) - The former home of one of the most famous team owners in major league baseball history is on the market for over $1.4 million just outside LaPorte.
The Oakland A’s won three straight World Series titles in the early 1970’s when the late Charlie Finley owned the team and lived in the mansion at 3855 West Johnson Road.
Zach Coulter of Blackrock Real Estate Services said the 10 acre site was put up for sale over a week ago by the current owners, Kevin and Rhonda Spence.
“There’s been a few showings. Definitely, an intriguing property,” he said.
Coulter said an offer for at least $1 million was turned down, at least for right now.
He said the well-kept, mostly still original, mansion built in 1942 features seven bedrooms and 12 bathrooms along with other unique characteristics like Georgia marble fireplaces. There’s also a three bedroom, three bathroom guest house constructed in the 1880’s and several barns including one with five stalls for horses.
Coulter says updates to the property such as new roofs in recent years were for maintenance purposes.
“A lot of the charm and character remains the same as it was when the Finley’s lived there. It’s a cool property for sure,” he said.
The colorful Finley, who made his fortune in the insurance business at Chicago, was 77 when he passed away in 1996. He spent part of his childhood in Gary and moved to the mansion outside LaPorte in 1956. Finley obtained a controlling interest in the A’s in 1960 and moved the team from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968.
The first of three consecutive World Series titles came four-years later with Hall of Fame players like Reggie Jackson, Jim “Catfish” Hunter and Rollie Fingers.
Finley, who seemed to relish in the national spotlight, also became a familiar name because of his salary disputes with players he replaced with less costly talent. He was very outspoken in his opposition to free agency and his legal battles with then MLB Commissioner the late Bowie Kuhn. Finley was also known as an innovator for things like changing the team colors to green, gold and white.
One of his inventions was an orange baseball for players to see better during night games, but the idea never caught on despite his continued sales pitches even on network TV.
Chip Jones, a lifelong LaPorte resident, said he grew up with some of Finley’s eight children, including Martin who was in his grade at school. Jones said he occasionally went to the property to hang out or play basketball in the gym in the loft of one of the barns. He also said Finley’s wife, Shirley, would call them in from outside and serve lunch during his visits.
“Mrs. Finley was as nice as can be. She would feed you your peanut butter sandwich just like anyone else’s mom,” he said.
Mr. Finley was also known for embracing the community. He would tell national TV audiences how he loved La Porte and do other things like donate baseball equipment for use by local youth.
After the couple divorced, Finley moved to another mansion a short distance away on U.S. 35 where he welcomed people by the thousands annually to see his outdoor Christmas display.
Jones said it was a special period of time to live in La Porte.
“It was kind of two worlds. You thought it was really cool that Charlie owned the Oakland A’s but the Finley kids were just good buddies. They were just guys,” he said.
Coulter said the current owners put the property up for sale because they’re looking to downsize since their children are now grown. He said mansion has already generated considerable interest.
“There’s been several showings and receiving an offer is a good sign,” he said.