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Ltlabner
11-08-2006, 10:00 PM
What are some of the wackiest decisions/moves a team owner has made?

Hopefully some of you historian types can add in some good ones.

dougdirt
11-08-2006, 10:18 PM
The White Sox wearing shorts.
Disco Demolition.
I think the Indians had like 10 cent beer night...that turned bad.

gm
11-08-2006, 10:19 PM
What are some of the wackiest decisions/moves a team owner has made?

Hopefully some of you historian types can add in some good ones.

"No, No Nannette" will be a blockbuster! (Red Sox owner sells Ruth to pay off his musical debt)

dougdirt
11-08-2006, 10:22 PM
Oh, and apparently anyone who let go of Lonnie Smith...it was ok in the end, but almost turned VERY bad.

mth123
11-08-2006, 10:30 PM
How about disdaining all your scouts and giving your dog free reign

RedFanAlways1966
11-08-2006, 10:33 PM
Uh... I'd have to nominate firing a manager b/c he is living with (not married to) his girlfriend. Anyone here ever hear of such a thing?

5DOLLAR-BLEACHERBUM
11-08-2006, 10:34 PM
Not a team owner but a owner none the less. NBC and the World Wrestling Federation plow $100 million into creating the XFL. The March 17 game between the Birmingham Thunderbolts and the Las Vegas Outlaws scores a 1.6 Nielsen rating, believed to be the lowest ever for any prime-time network program. The league folds after one season. He Hate Me rules!

vaticanplum
11-08-2006, 10:42 PM
Bill Veeck's entire career, but I'd go with the midget first and foremost.

Falls City Beer
11-08-2006, 10:45 PM
but I'd go with the midget first and foremost.

Eddie Gaedel

westofyou
11-08-2006, 10:57 PM
"No, No Nannette" will be a blockbuster! (Red Sox owner sells Ruth to pay off his musical debt)

Globe Theatre, Broadway - 16 September, 1925.

That's the day No, No Nanette came out, six opening days after Ruth was sold.

Another baseball myth.

vaticanplum
11-08-2006, 11:06 PM
Globe Theatre, Broadway - 16 September, 1925.

That's the day No, No Nanette came out, six opening days after Ruth was sold.

Another baseball myth.

Is there any other evidence besides the date? Because he could very well have been deeply in the hole for producing the show and needed to sell Ruth to pay his debts from it -- make-up financing, if you will.

Chip R
11-08-2006, 11:26 PM
Globe Theatre, Broadway - 16 September, 1925.

That's the day No, No Nanette came out, six opening days after Ruth was sold.

Another baseball myth.


Oh yeah, next thing you'll be telling me is that Abner Doubeday didn't invent baseball and Jackie Robinson wasn't the first African-American baseball player. ;)

If you want to look at Wacky Owner Tricks, look no further than Atlanta, GA and Billionaire Ted. He signed Andy Messersmith as a free agent and assigned him the number 17 and had them put the word "Channel" instead of "Messersmith" on the back of his jersey to advertise TBS which was channel 17 in the Atlanta area. Ted actually managed the Braves for a game - they lost.

Cyclone792
11-09-2006, 12:09 AM
Is there any other evidence besides the date? Because he could very well have been deeply in the hole for producing the show and needed to sell Ruth to pay his debts from it -- make-up financing, if you will.

Plenty of evidence, though I'll try to keep this somewhat short and to the point since it was a pretty complex situation that occurred.

During the 1919 season, a rift developed between two groups of American League teams, and the cause of the rift was a fiasco involving American League President Ban Johnson, the Boston Red Sox, and Boston's star pitcher Carl Mays.

Mays was irritated with the lousy run support provided to him by the Red Sox offense, and in retaliation, he rebelled. First, he threw a ball at a fan in the stands and was promptly fined $100 by Ban Johnson. Later in the season when Mays was on the mound, catcher Wally Schang tried to throw a basestealer at second base, but the throw was low and nailed Mays in the head. Mays walked off the field after that inning and refused to return; instead, he headed back home to Boston to collect his belongings and jumped the club, refusing to pitch for the Red Sox.

Boston was at a sticking point here. The easy solution would be to suspend Mays, but he was one of the league's best pitchers and if he was suspended, he wouldn't be able to be traded. Ban Johnson, however, warned the other seven AL clubs not to deal with Boston in acquiring Mays. The Yankees ignored Johnson's demand and struck a deal with the Red Sox to acquire Mays in return for a scrub, Allen Russell, and $40,000 cash. Johnson refused to approve the trade, but the teams went to court and obtained an injunction against Johnson. The end result is Mays went to the Yankees in early August, won nine games for them in less than two months, and the beginning of the end was near for Ban Johnson's rule over the American League.

Here's where it gets interesting with Babe Ruth ...

Boston hated Ban Johnson after this fiasco, as did the Yankees. The Chicago White Sox also joined with those two clubs in challenging Johnson's authority. The five other AL teams, however, stuck loyal to Johnson and supported him, thereby creating the aforementioned rift between two groups of AL clubs: Red Sox, Yankees and White Sox vs. the rest of the American League.

After the 1919 season, Ruth's demands for salary started to skyrocket - remember, he shattered the all-time home run record with 29 homers that season, breaking Gavy Cravath's modern record of 24 set a few seasons earlier (in a joke of a home park) and breaking the all-time mark by Ned Williamson (in a joke of a home park) in the 19th century. Ruth's salary of $10,000 each season from 1919-1921 was far too low, according to the Babe. He wanted $20,000 a year, and if not, he'd sit out the next season. Frazee was low on cash and couldn't give the Babe a raise, but at the same time he couldn't take the chance that Ruth would sit out the 1920 season by not giving him a raise.

The solution? Trade Ruth.

Yet with the Carl Mays/Ban Johnson fiasco still fresh, the Red Sox were low on teams willing to work with them in a trade for Ruth. Only the White Sox and Yankees stepped up due to the Johnson rift, with the White Sox offering Joe Jackson and $60,000 cash and the Yankees offering $100,000 cash. Frazee was in negotiations with Joe Lannin, the guy he bought the Red Sox from, and the Taylor family who built Fenway Park to go ahead and buy Fenway Park fully.

This is where it gets complicated.

When Frazee bought the team originally, Fenway Park was not included in the package. Due to the rift with Ban Johnson, however, Frazee needed the park as leverage to prevent Johnson from figuring out a way to assume control of the team and force Frazee out. If Frazee owned the park, it made it much more difficult for Johnson to pull any shenanigans since any Johnson trickery that would have resulted in ousting Frazee would have left the team without a ball park to play in. Frazee needed the cash to secure the park and help secure his interest in the franchise. Not surprisingly, he elected to take the cash-heavy offer from the Yankees, including a loan from the Yankees to further help him secure Fenway Park.

Babe Ruth, unfortunately for Red Sox fans, was off to the Yankees.

Of course, the rift between Johnson and the two groups of AL clubs continued well past the Ruth trade. The Black Sox Scandal was uncovered in 1920, ripping away much of the talent held by the Chicago White Sox, and the other five American League clubs still refused to deal with Boston in any significant transaction.

That left the Yankees as the only team that would deal with Boston, and in convenient Yankee fashion, just about every Yanks/Red Sox trade turned up lopsided in the Yankees' favor. Guys such as Waite Hoyt, Wally Schang, Joe Bush, Sam Jones, Joe Dugan, and Herb Pennock ended up being shipped from Boston to New York over a period of about two to three years following the Ruth sale, and that group of players along with Ruth was the core of the beginning of the great Yankee Dynasty.

Frazee himself? He sold the Red Sox in 1923, two years before No, No Nanette came out.

George Anderson
11-09-2006, 12:22 AM
I remember Reds management in the early 80's fining Dave Collins $50 for throwing a ball to a kid in the stands. Pretty damn petty and I remember Collins saying it was one of the reasons he couldnt wait to leave.

Cyclone792
11-09-2006, 01:38 AM
Here are some pictures of some of the players/executives involved in events surrounding the Ruth sale and the Frazee ownership of the Red Sox. Photos and labels courtesy of Bill Burgess over at Baseball Fever (he's got hundreds of such pictures posted there) ...

-----------------Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis----------------------------------Figures in Baseball
---Being appointed Commissioner of Baseball, Nov. 12, 1920, Chicago, Illinois----------------------------------1920, Chicago, Illinois

Standing L-R: Connie Mack (A's), Phil Ball (Browns), Barney Dreyfuss (Pirates)--------L-R: Frank Joseph Navin (Detroit Tigers), Phil D. Ball (St. Louis Browns)
Clark Griffith (Senators), Frank Navin (Tigers), Jacob Ruppert (Yankees), Sam------Clark Griffith (Senators), Tom Shibe (Phil. A's), Ban B. Johnson (AL Pres.)
Breadon (Cardinals), Charles Ebbets (Dodgers), James Dunn (Indians), Charles
Stoneham (Giants), August (Garry) Herrmann (Reds), Harry Frazee (Red Sox)
William Veeck (Cubs), Robert Quinn (Browns)

Obscured behind them are: Bill Hayes (AP Writer), Billy Niesen (semi-club owner),
Oscar Reichow (Chicago Daily News sports writer)

http://img141.imageshack.us/img141/3869/execs1920ef1.jpg



-------------------------Wally Schang, Phil. A's C, 1913-'14-----------------------------------Wally Schang, 1913-'14

http://img136.imageshack.us/img136/7889/schanggp9.jpg



-----------------Carl Mays, 1929, Giants----------------------------------1929, Giants

http://img182.imageshack.us/img182/2818/maysri1.jpg



-----------Herb Pennock, Yankee P, 1922-'33---------------Joe Bush, Athletics' P, 1912 -------------------1913-14

http://img154.imageshack.us/img154/4456/pennockbushzk2.jpg



---------Babe Ruth/Rogers Hornsby---------------George Sisler/Babe Ruth, -------------------Babe Ruth/George Sisler
-----------1920, Polo Grounds-----------------------1922, Sportsman's Park ----------------------1922, Polo Grounds

http://img95.imageshack.us/img95/2862/ruthothersga2.jpg

BCubb2003
11-09-2006, 02:58 AM
Charles Finley offered to pay Vida Blue to change his name to True Blue.

Orange baseballs, a mechanical rabbit that popped out of the ground to deliver baseballs to the umpire.

George Steinbrenner hired a private eye to follow Dave Winfield.

Ted Turner named himself the manager.

Not an owner, but Bob Howsam tried to figure out how to get a ballpark to smell like a bakery.

That whole Astrodome thing... what a crazy idea that was.

mth123
11-09-2006, 06:55 AM
Great story Cyclone and very well told.

For the record, I always thought the No No Nanette story was true as well. Actually, the story Cyclone just posted makes a lot more sense.

I also didn't know all of those other Yankee stars were with the Red Sox first.
Maybe it should have been the Curse of Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt.

And the part about Carl Mays is interesting. He sounds like the Albert Belle of his day (from a personality standpoint). It makes you wonder if he hit and killed Ray Chapman on purpose. Maybe the remorse was just for show.

MrCinatit
11-09-2006, 08:42 AM
Charlie Finley creating the Designated Runner possition with Herb Washington.

oneupper
11-09-2006, 10:54 AM
I kind of liked the shorts...probably not too practical, thought.

westofyou
11-09-2006, 10:57 AM
I kind of liked the shorts...probably not too practical, thought.

LA Angels wore them in the early 50's in the PCL

http://www.sportshollywood.com/images/minors/shorts1.jpg

westofyou
11-09-2006, 10:59 AM
And the part about Carl Mays is interesting. He sounds like the Albert Belle of his day (from a personality standpoint). It makes you wonder if he hit and killed Ray Chapman on purpose. Maybe the remorse was just for show.Mays must have picthed to contact, averaged under 2 K's per nine as a Red and won 20 and 19 one year.

texasdave
11-09-2006, 11:12 AM
Chicago Cubs tried some weird stuff:[edit] Unusual Management Practices
Evil Eye: For one year during the United States Great Depression, P.K. Wrigley hired a man for $5,000 U.S. Dollars to sit behind home plate of Wrigley Field and hex the opposing baseball teams' pitchers with an "evil eye" procedure.[1] It failed.
College of Coaches: During the 1961 and 1962 seasons, P.K. Wrigley instituted a never-before-tried team management system of rotating of coaches between the team and its minor leagues and farm system. It also failed with a combined 123-193 won-loss record[1]
Eye tests, rubber tires and balance beams: Cubs' Player Developement Chief, Al Goldis once instituted a player developement program during spring training which required the players to undergo eye tests and practice their coordination, batting stance and bat swing atop a series of 25 old rubber tires and a pile of two-by-fours[1]

And in basketball this courtesy the Boston Celtics:Auerbach's greatest triumph, however, came in 1956, when he persuaded the owner of the Rochester Royals to pass up drafting Bill Russell. In exchange, Auerbach arranged for Rochester to get the Ice Capades. Bill Russell went on to win 11 titles. Of course, what seems laughable today may have made perfect economic sense in the low-revenue 1950s.

westofyou
11-09-2006, 11:33 AM
Reds owner Sidney Weil had secretly bought up the Reds shares around town despite having mostly paper worth, the Stock Market crash wrecked him and he and thus the Reds were broke.

At the time they were just starting to get bad, they had 1 minor league contract, so he cut that to save costs.

They had no good hitters, nothing worth top tier, so they went looking for a hitter. In St Louis Chick Hafey had just turned 28 and was being pushed out by cost and younger players, even despite having hit .326/.379/.568/.948 in 3000 at bats for the Cardinals. Seeing Weil and the Reds in need Branch Rickey the Cards GM offered him up to the Reds for $50,000. Which the Reds didn't have, despite salivating for Hafey. "No Problem" said Rickey, "We'll loan it to you." Which Weil said sure. So he borrowed 50 K from Rickey and turned around and gave it back to him for Hafey.

Hafey developed a sinus infection and that led to him also develop eye problems and he had to wear glasses, making him one of the 1st regular players to wear glasses in the game.

He only batted 253 times in his first year as a Red and finished his Reds career with this line .301/.359/.452/.811, only playing in over 100 games twice in five seasons, he only had 50 ab's in 1935 and missed the whole 1936 season, which also happens to be the only whole season that the Reds had Babe Herman on the team. Babe was a laid backed Californian and had a reputation of a non hustler, therefore Reds owner Larry MacPhail cut a deal with Babe, he would give Babe $500 every month that he hustled. Judge Landis eventually heard of the deal and the payouts and raised a big stink about it, citing that performance payments for what should be played out naturally just was wrong in his world... the only one that mattered when it came to baseball matters. So thus the payments stopped.

Cyclone792
11-09-2006, 12:32 PM
If the late Frank J. Navin had any confidence in William Yawkey's knowledge of baseball, Walter Johnson would have joined Detroit instead of Washington. Yawkey, who owned the Detroit club at the time, walked into Navin's office one morning and handed him a letter from a friend of his, advising Yawkey to buy the "best pitcher in the country." Navin scoffed.

"Where is this phenom pitching?" asked Navin.

"It says here in the letter that he's pitching independent ball out in Weiser, Idaho," Yawkey told him.

"This friend of yours, what does he do?"

"He's a cigar salesman. He travels all around the west."

"So you want me to go to the expense of sending a scout out there on the word of a cigar salesman?" said Navin as he pigeon-holed the letter. Navin never ignored a tip after that, but unfortunately there were no more Johnsons setting the prairie leagues on fire.

--H.G. Salsinger, "Tigers Spurned Johnson For Free," Baseball Digest, August 1946

------------

Amidst pennant fever, there appeared in Washington in his big league debut a gawky, six-foot, two-inch right-hander who had started in southern California as a catcher and ahd been discovered in the Idaho bushes by a traveling cigar salesman. The cigar drummer had passed word that the hayseed, now a pitcher, had thrown 72 innings without allowing a run. Walter Perry Johnson was extremely long-armed and with his slingshot delivery had shocking speed, along with good control. At nineteen he broke in against the Tigers on an August day.

Routinely Cobb inspected all new players, even rookies, before facing them. After watching Johnson warm up, he told Jennings, "Have everybody stand deep in the box today. This farmer throws out of his hip pocket so fast that you can't follow it."

As for Cobb, he bunted, and the rookie misfielded the bunts. Cobb also did the usual on the base paths, and Detroit beat Johnson, 3-2. That night, Cobb said, he urged Navin as follows: "Get this kid even if it costs you twenty-five thousand dollars. That's the best arm I've ever seen. He's so fast it scared me. When he learnes a curve, nobody can stop him."

Big Train Johnson never did find an outstanding curve, yet the quiet man became a pistonlike career winner of 416 games [he actually won 417 games], threw 110 shutouts , and once rang up 16 consecutive decisions. "All he did for the next twenty years was beat Detroit," said Cobb, sarcastically, long afterward. "Jackass Navin did nothing to sign him when Johnson was still available."

--Al Stump, Cobb: A Biography, 1994

------------

Tigers staff ace Wild Bill Donovan after witnessing Walter Johnson's debut:

"It is no wonder to me that Johnson pitched 85 innings without allowing a run and struck out 166 men in twelve games up in Idaho," he said. "It is only a wonder to me that he didn't strike out every one of those bushers up there. He has remarkable speed and a great shoot on his fast ball, and to tell you the truth, he is the best raw pitcher I have ever seen. If nothing happens to that fellow, he will be a greater pitcher in two years than Mathewson ever dared to be. Mark that prediction. Look at that build. Nineteen years old. Well, I guess that fellow won't improve within a year or two."

Several of the Tigers went to Frank Navin, the team's president, urging him to buy Johnson at once. "Even if he costs you $25,000, get him." Cobb told Navin, but the frugal ex-accountant just looked at his star as though he were crazy.

--Henry W. Thomas, Walter Johnson: Baseball's Big Train, 1995

GAC
11-10-2006, 07:05 AM
Giving a player a multi-year contract that pays him 25 Mil/yr.

mth123
11-10-2006, 07:58 AM
Giving a player a multi-year contract that pays him 25 Mil/yr.

... when only bidding against yourself.