It’s easy being Dick Green

February 28, 2014
Hall of Fame Vice President of Exhibits and Collections Erik Strohl gives Dick and Lia Green a tour of the library. (Milo Stewart, Jr./NBHOF Library)

His name resides on the same list as Hall of Famers like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra – men who played for teams that won three straight World Series titles.

His name is Dick Green. And 40 years ago, his play at second base helped anchor the great Oakland A’s teams that became a dynasty.

Green, now a dapper-looking 72-year-old, visited the Hall of Fame on Friday with his wife Lia. As he toured the Museum, the sharp-witted Green shared memories of his teammates and their antics – and the passion that helped the A’s become just one of three teams (along with the 1936-39 Yankees and the 1949-53 Yankees) to win three straight World Series.

“We didn’t make a lot of money, so the $25,000 we got in World Series share really was a big deal,” Green said.

Green made $42,500 with the A’s in his last active year of 1974. In the World Series that year, he was voted the Most Valuable Player (the Babe Ruth Award) by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America despite going 0-for-13 at the plate in Oakland’s 4-games-to-1 series win.

Green’s defense was that good. And then, he walked away from the game.

“I would have lost my starting job (in 1975) to Phil Garner, and I just didn’t want to be a utility infielder,” Green said. “Besides, I made more money at home with our moving company.”

For Green, the baseball memories have lasted much longer than the money:

  • On teammate Catfish Hunter: “I knew when he left Oakland after 1974 that we’d never win again. He had five or six speeds on his fastball and this tiny little curve, but he’d never walk a guy when it counted and never gave up runs when it counted.”
  • On teammate Reggie Jackson: “He hit a ball once in Boston that the second baseman jumped for – and it went out of the park. He could carry a team when he got hot.”
  • On A’s manager Dick Williams: “He was the best manager I played for. He knew how to win.”
  • On Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle: “He hit the ball so hard, I can remember being in Kansas City and playing him in right field. Then he’d try a little drag bunt to get on.”

For Green, it was all part of a wonderful 12-year ride with the A’s.

“We had so much fun back then – more fun than they have now, I think,” said Green, whose stellar fielding helped the 1972-74 A’s become one of baseball’s true dynasties. “We had a ball and got paid for it.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum