Former jobs of every MLB owner
With only 30 Major League Baseball franchises, owners are part of a very rare club. Many come from wealthy families, while others built small businesses into conglomerates. Occasionally, an investor will buy up minority stakes in other MLB teams before finally finding an opening to take over majority control of another. Several MLB owners also own teams in other professional sports, in the U.S. and abroad.
Stacker compiled a list of the former jobs of every MLB owner, using a variety of sources. Slides also include how owners came to own a team, using primary news sources, company websites, and team websites for data. The Toronto Blue Jays are excluded, as they are owned by Rogers Communications, which does not have a majority shareholder.
Some names are quite familiar to non-baseball fans. The Steinbrenners, whose family patriarch was infamously parodied in “Seinfeld,” still retain control of the New York Yankees in the Bronx. In Queens, where the New York Mets play, the Wilpons are just as prominent in tabloids, although usually with a dash of controversy. On the West Coast, a prototypical pursuit of the American Dream led to the purchase of one Los Angeles baseball team, while backing from Magic Johnson helped secure ownership in the other.
There are noticeable trends among the list, which is short on diversity. There are no female owners, but as more women ascend to higher positions within MLB and throughout baseball, that could change soon. Only one team was sold in the past year, so the opportunities to purchase an MLB team are few and far between. Despite fan outrage and on-field struggles, even the lowliest of franchises won’t put their team up for sale unless drastic measures are needed.
Continue reading to see how the current stable of MLB team leaders achieved their path to the owner’s box.
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Arizona Diamondbacks: Ken Kendrick
- Year acquired: 1995
Ken Kendrick was part of an ownership group that brought an expansion team to Arizona, and he became the Diamondbacks’ Managing General Partner in 2004. In the 1960s, Kendrick founded Datatel, Inc., a computer software developer. In April, Diamondbacks minority stakeholders sued Kendrick over forced buyouts.
Atlanta Braves: John Malone (Liberty Media)
- Year acquired: 2007
John Malone helped turn Tele-Communications Inc. into a cable TV leader, becoming the company’s chief executive officer at 29, and facilitating a sale to AT&T worth $50 billion. In 2007, Malone’s new venture, Liberty Media, acquired the Braves. Previously, the team was owned by Ted Turner, and then Time Warner.
Baltimore Orioles: Peter Angelos
- Year acquired: 1993
Peter Angelos became a big shot in the Baltimore area as a trial lawyer, representing the state in several high-profile cases against big tobacco. In 1993, Angelos headed up a group to buy the Orioles for $173 million. However, Angelos’ declining health has MLB worried about the future of the franchise.
Boston Red Sox: John W. Henry
- Year acquired: 2002
The success of John W. Henry’s investment firm enabled him to buy the Red Sox, Liverpool FC, and the Boston Globe. Henry’s parents were soybean farmers and he invested early in the legumes. When Henry bought the Red Sox in 2001, he paid approximately $700 million; in less than three years, the team won a World Series.
Chicago Cubs: Thomas S. Ricketts
- Year acquired: 2009
The Ricketts family made it big through their company Ameritrade, and family patriarch Joe Ricketts is still worth more than $2 billion, despite some disparaging and insensitive statements in the past. The Ricketts bought the Cubs from the Tribune Company, and in 2016 helped deliver the team’s first World Series since 1908.
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Chicago White Sox: Jerry Reinsdorf
Cincinnati Reds: Bob Castellini
- Year acquired: 2006
Bob Castellini grew Castellini Co. into one of the nation’s top fruit and vegetable wholesalers, and previously owned small stakes in the Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals before buying the Reds. In the past 15 years, the Reds have only made the playoffs three times.
Cleveland Indians: Larry Dolan
- Year acquired: 1999
Larry Dolan previously tried to buy the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Reds before landing the Indians in 1999. Dolan purchased the ball club with family trusts enriched by Cablevision stock. Larry Dolan’s nephew, James Dolan, owns the New York Knicks and Rangers.
[Pictured: Owner Larry Dolan of the Cleveland Indians is handed the William Harridge Trophy.]
Colorado Rockies: Charlie Monfort
- Year acquired: 1992
Charlie Monfort and his family brought pro baseball to Denver and have been in control of the Rockies throughout their existence. Monfort has experience running Monfort International Sales Corporation and ConAgra Refrigerated Foods International, Inc. Ken Monfort, Charlie’s father, earned his riches in meatpacking.
Detroit Tigers: Christopher Ilitch
- Year acquired: 1992
Ilitch Holdings, whose most well-known business might be Little Caesars Pizza, owns the Tigers and the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. In 2016, Christopher Ilitch was announced as the successor to his parents’ empire. Before working in the family business, Ilitch toiled at IBM.
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