Sport: In Oakland, a Record Blast-Off

"Billyball" is winning games and drawing fans for the A's

When Billy Martin's Oakland A's climbed from last place in 1979 to second in the American League West last year, critics insisted that Martin's magic could not last. He was, after all, using mirrors— often platooning eight mediocre players, for instance—to create the illusion of an infield. Certainly Oakland's starting pitchers were impressive, setting a modern record by completing 94 games in 1980. But, it was argued, the strong arms would weaken with overwork. In any event, the league was wise to the wiles...

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