From 1971 to 1975 the Oakland A’s won 5 straight division titles and they captured 3 consecutive World Series crowns from 1972 to 1974. They were the best team in baseball, and also the most unusual. Owner Charles Finley was unconventional, to say the least, and ran the organization in an eccentric style. He was a notorious tightwad with his money and operated with the leanest of staffs.
In 1973, he met an 11-year-old Oakland resident named Stanley Burrell in the stadium parking lot. The young man was performing a crazy dance, which was noteworthy enough. That he also resembled hitting legend Hank Aaron prompted Finley to invite the youngster inside to watch the game. Finley thought the resemblance so uncanny that he called the young man “Hammer,” in honor of the “Home Run King,” and the name stuck.
Burrell became a fixture at the A’s stadium, to the point that he was named an honorary vice president of the club, and he provided running play-by-play commentary of each game to the owner (who most often ran the ballclub from his distant offices in Chicago). In time, Burrell became Finley’s trusted advisor and confidante, as a teenager.
Burrell loved the game of baseball but was not talented enough to play beyond the high school level. He hated to leave the A’s but the team had fallen upon hard times in the late 1970s and most of their star players exited. Burrell joined the U.S. Navy for a time then burst to national prominence a decade later as an energetic rap singer and exuberant dancer known as “M.C. Hammer.” Let the lyric of his hit record be your motto as a hitter: “It’s hammer time!”