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Charles A. Stoneham
Born July 5, 1876(1876-07-05)
Jersey City, New Jersey
Died January 6, 1936 (aged 59)
Nationality United States
Known for New York Giants

Charles A. Stoneham (born July 5, 1876 in Jersey City, New Jersey; died January 6, 1936 in Hot Springs, Arkansas) was the owner of the New York Giants baseball team, New York Giants soccer team, the center of numerous corruption scandals and the instigator of the "Soccer Wars" which destroyed the American Soccer League.

Contents

Business ventures

Stoneham began his career as a board boy, updating stock transactions, in a New York City brokerage office. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a stock salesman in the company. In 1913, he established his own brokerage, Charles A. Stoneham & Company. In 1917, he also purchased the Sierra Nevada mine in Jefferson, Nevada. In 1921, Stoneham dissolved his brokerage house, convincing his investors to transfer their accounts to various other New York brokerage firms. In July 1922, E.M. Fuller & Company, one of the brokerages which accepted Stoneham's clients, collapsed.

Allegations arose that Stoneham was a silent partner in the firm and had provided false testimony in the investigation of the collapse. He was indicted on August 31, 1923 by a Federal grand jury for perjury. While this case was building, another of the brokerage firms associated with the dissolution of Stoneham's, E.D. Dier & Company, also collapsed. Once again, allegations of criminal activity began to swirl around him and in September 1923, he was indicted by the Federal government for mail fraud related to defrauding the Dier company's clients. He was acquitted of these charges on February 6, 1925. Although he was cleared of most charges in each case, the taint of scandal never fully left him.

Relationship with Arnold Rothstein

Stoneham had a close business relationship with Arnold Rothstein, a notorious organized crime boss who ran numerous gambling operations. Rothstein, best known for fixing the 1919 World Series, brokered Stoneham's purchase of the New York Giants baseball team in 1919. He also co-owned a billiard parlour with Stoneham's right hand man, Giants manager John McGraw.

Gambling operations

Stoneham himself was an inveterate gambler and the owner of numerous gambling operations, including the Oriental Park Racetrack, and Havana Casino in Havana, Cuba. He was eventually forced to sell these operations in 1923, as part of an anti-corruption campaign waged by baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.[1] However, he continued to operate horse racing operations in New York for several more years.

Baseball

In 1919, Stoneham purchased the New York Giants baseball team for one million dollars.[2] He would own the team until his death in 1936, passing it to his son Horace Stoneham. During his tenure as owner, Stoneham saw the Giants win the World Series in 1921, 1922 and 1933.

Stoneham was also involved in the aborted move of the New York Yankees to Boston in 1920. The Yankees, the city's second team, had leased the Polo Grounds from the Giants since 1913. At the time, the American League was riven by an internecine war, with the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox on one side and American League president Ban Johnson and the other five clubs on the other. With the acquisition of Babe Ruth in 1920, the once-moribund Yankees suddenly became competitive and outdrew the Giants.

To destroy one of the three teams that opposed him, Johnson persuaded Stoneham to evict the Yankees. This would give Johnson an excuse to force a sale to a more pliable owner. The Yankees' owners, Jacob Ruppert and Cap Huston, responded by announcing they would move to Boston as tenants of the Red Sox. Stoneham realized that if the Yankees left town, he'd lose revenue from a valuable tenant. He also didn't want to be held responsible for forcing Ruth, the biggest star in the game, out of town. With these factors in mind, he renewed the Yankees' lease for one more year. The incident led the Yankees to construct their own park, Yankee Stadium, to ensure no other team had the power to deny them a place to play.[3]

Soccer

In addition to baseball, Stoneham also had a significant part in US soccer history. At the time, the American Soccer League was the second most popular professional league behind major league baseball, attracting large crowds and drawing many of Europe's best players with its excellent pay and high level of play. On September 8, 1927, Stoneham purchased the Indiana Flooring franchise. While he wanted to rename the team the Giants, he was prevented by the fact the league already had a Giants team. Therefore, he settled on renaming his team the New York Nationals.[4]

His infamy in soccer came as a result of his role in precipitating the "Soccer Wars" which led to the destruction of the ASL. Soccer in the US is overseen by a single organizing body, at the time known as the United States Football Association. The USFA ran an annual national single-elimination tournament known as the National Challenge Cup. Even though the Nationals had won the 1928 National Challenge Cup over Bricklayers and Masons F.C. of Chicago, Stoneham and several other owners had grown frustrated by the high costs associated with this cup. Therefore, as league Vice President he instigated a boycott of the competition.[5] When three teams defied the league and entered the cup, they were expelled from the ASL. The USFA then labeled the ASL an "outlaw league" and bankrolled the creation of the Eastern Soccer League to compete directly against the ASL. The financial toll brought about by the Soccer War forced the capitulation of the ASL in 1929.[6]

However, the league was permanently crippled. The onset of the Great Depression worsened the league's financial situation and it limped on for three more years before collapsing. Before that happened, Stoneham finally gained his New York Giants soccer team in 1931 when the original Giants was renamed the New York Soccer Club. Stoneham withdrew his team from the ASL in 1932 and disbanded it.

Politics

Stoneham was also a member of the Tammany Hall political machine.

Death

For several years before his death, Stoneham had been suffering from a variety of physical ailments which were eventually diagnosed as symptoms of Bright's disease. He died in a hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas on January 6, 1936 after spending several days in a coma. His son and heir Horace Stoneham was at his bedside.

External links

References

  1. ^ Burk, Robert F. (December 1, 2000) (Hardback). Much More Than a Game: Players, Owners and American Baseball since 1921. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0807849088.  
  2. ^ Riess, Steven A. (1974). "The Baseball Magnates and Urban Politics In The Progressive Era: 1895 – 1920". Journal of Sport History (LA84 Foundation) 1 (1). http://www.la84foundation.org/SportsLibrary/JSH/JSH1974/JSH0101/jsh0101d.pdf. Retrieved 2009-07-13.  
  3. ^ Stout, Glenn (July 18, 2002). "When the Yankees nearly moved to Boston". ESPN.com. http://web.archive.org/web/20070306104308/http://espn.go.com/mlb/s/2002/0718/1407265.html. Retrieved 2009-07-13.  
  4. ^ "STONEHAM BUYS INDIANA FLOORING", Bethlehem Globe-Times (GeoCities), September 8, 1927, http://www.geocities.com/bethlehem_soccer/gl090827.html, retrieved 2009-07-13  
  5. ^ "A Swing Along Athletic Row", Bethlehem Globe (GeoCities), April 23, 1928, http://www.geocities.com/bethlehem_soccer/gl042328b.html, retrieved 2009-07-13  
  6. ^ "TRUCE DECLARED IN SOCCER CONTROVERSY", Bethlehem Globe (GeoCities), September 9, 1929, http://www.geocities.com/bethlehem_soccer/gl090929b.html, retrieved 2009-07-13  
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