Former Texas Congressman Alan W. Steelman said yesterday he and a group of associates will make no further attempts to negotiate with Charles O. Finley for the purchase of the Oakland A's.
Steelman said "premature publicity . . . has poisoned the atmosphere for continued negotiations" and that there were "several problem areas" in discussing a sale with Finley. Steelman said his group's effort in trying to return major-league baseball to Washington were off, "barringer some unforeseen development."
After erroneous reports surfaced in Texas Monday night that Steelman was interested in acquiring the Texas Rangers, he told reporters that the team he was really interested in was Oakland - if the American League club could be switched to the National League and moved to Washington.
After confirming the wire service reports to the Washington Post, Steelman said he had avoided volunteering the information for fear of raising false hopes among area residents anxious for the sport to return here.
The major problem is discussion in May with Finley, Steelman said, were the conditions Finley set forth during an afternoon conversation and a later session that night over dinner at Finley's Chicago apartment.
According to Steelman, Finely said he wanted $12.5 million for the franchise with a 29 per cent downpayment and the remainder to be paid over eight for tax reasons. Finley also wanted to keep a 20 per cent interest in the club, Steelman said.
"There's no truth to that at all," the volatile Finley said about negotiations for the sale of the A's. "He said he was going to be passing through Chicago and wanted to meet with me and have dinner," Finley added.
"He said he was interested in buying a baseball club and I told him he could do this and that (to buy another team) . . . As far as I'm concerned, he's a Texan with . . . no cattle. he's an ex-politician looking for publicity."
Steelman, who said his group will investigate the possibility of buying another club, remarked yesterday. "I have met Idi Amin and he's not an African leader. He's a baseball owner who lives in Chicago.
"He (Finley) was quite anxious to consummate a sale before the end of this season, saying we shouldn't expect to wait him out until October, because if we did he would find a way to stay in Oakland.
"We felt that $10 million was a top price, especially for a team so decimated by trades of most of its top players. We also were unwilling to accept his remaining as a minority stockholder."
A Republican who represent Dallas County from 1973 through 1976.Steelman, now a resident of Reston, would not name those in the group he is assembling. He said some would be local investors, some from Dallas and others from around the country.
Steelman said that when he arrived at Finley's apartment for dinner, there was a Chicago sportswriter there. He was introduced by Finley's as "the guy who's going top buy myu ball team."
After presenting Steelman with an autographed orange baseball for his son, he said Finley stressed that it was "urgent" that the club be sold soon. He implored him to arranged for a stadium contract and other details, Steelman said.
"In the next breath, he asked me if I was part of (commissioner) Bowie Kuhn's plan to put a baseball club in Washington," Steelman said. "I told him I was not, that I had initiated it on my own."
Steelman said that Finley thought the remaining 10 years for the A's contractwith the Oakland Coliseum could be taken care by arranging for the San Francisco Giants to play some games there.