September 23, 2021

A Question of Ownership

February 26, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

From 1933-1988 there was one constant in the Boston Red Sox organization—the Yawkey family.  For 55 years, the team was owned by either Tom or his wife Jean, and three generations of my family lived, breathed, cried, and bled Boston Red Sox baseball under Yawkey’s watch.  But prior to Yawkey’s purchase of the team, seven men acted as team president and a handful more owned stock in the franchise.  From its inception in 1901 until 1932, the Red Sox were seemingly in a constant state of flux, presenting autocratic American League president Ban Johnson with one of his biggest challenges.  But during the 1912-1913 seasons, a cloud of mystery hung over the franchise, most of it created by Johnson himself.

The Boston American League franchise was originally owned by Charles W. Somers, a native of Ohio, who was extremely wealthy, having earned a fortune in the coal mining and shipping industries, and who helped Johnson put teams in Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston.  He wasn’t averse to spreading his wealth around and he provided the capital the junior circuit desperately needed to get off the ground while holding stock in half of the league’s eight franchises.  He ran the Red Sox, then known as the Americans or Somersets in Somers’ honor, for two years before selling his shares to Milwaukee lawyer Henry Killilea.

Killilea oversaw Boston’s first World Series title in 1903 before selling the team in the spring of 1904 to Boston Globe founder Charles Henry Taylor, who bought the team for his son, John I. Taylor.  John I. was a perfect fit for Johnson’s league.  Unlike local politician John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, who was also attempting to buy the team, Taylor was less than ambitious and content to live off his family’s wealth while spending his free time at the ballpark.  He would also be easier for Johnson to control.  Taylor offered $5,000 more than Fitzgerald and the club was his for the taking, with Johnson’s blessing, of course.

John I. Taylor became president of the Red Sox in 1904 and held that position until 1911

Although Taylor’s reign as owner of the Red Sox was marked by poor trades that, according to Glenn Stout, “precipitated a decline on the field far worse than that which was later blamed on the sale of Babe Ruth sixteen years later,” poor relationships with his players and managers, and poor sportsmanship, the Taylor family provided stable ownership to a franchise that had little to that point.  But they had little success.  After winning the American League pennant in 1904, Boston finished no higher than third place over the next seven seasons, and finished in last place in 1906, seventh place in 1907, and fifth place in 1908.  The team continued to climb the standings, finishing third in 1909, and won 54% of its games from 1909-1911, but fell again, earning back-to-back fourth-place finishes in 1910-1911.

Before 1911 came to a close, however, the team underwent some dramatic changes that would have an immediate impact on its fortunes, while also indirectly leading to an eventual slide into what sportswriter Fred Lieb called “the subterranean caverns of the American League.”  According to Lieb, the Taylors had decided in 1910 to allow the lease on the Huntington Avenue Grounds to expire so they could build a new ballpark.  According to Red Sox outfielder and Hall of Famer Harry Hooper, John I. Taylor had started considering the idea as far back as 1908 when he mentioned during their first contract negotiation that he might need an engineer to help him build a new park.  Hooper had a degree in Civil Engineering and thought he was going to be an engineer who played baseball on the side.  But he ended up being a full-time ball player instead.

When Ban Johnson decided to overhaul the Western League at the turn of the century and form a new major league to compete with the senior circuit, he sent Connie Mack to his home state of Massachusetts to secure a location for a new ballpark in Boston. Mack was able to lease the Huntington Avenue Grounds for five years, thanks in part to a $100,000 donation from Somers.  The site for the new park was leased by the Boston Elevated Railway company and served as a water park known as “the Chutes,” as well as a spot for traveling carnivals, circuses, and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  In the summer, patrons would slide down a wooden slide into an artificial pond; in the winter, the pond became a skating rink.

Except for having to fill in the pond at the base of the chutes, the plot was idyllic for a ballpark and was 100,000 square feet larger than the plot of land on which the South End Grounds, home of the National League’s Boston Braves, stood.  “There is no doubt that the Huntington Avenue Grounds are a splendid site for a ball park,” reported sportswriter Peter Kelley.  D.L. Prendergast, Boston Elevated’s real estate agent, agreed.  “It strikes me the American League people have secured an ideal location for their business.”

Although Huntington Avenue Grounds had been in use only since 1901, it was already antiquated.  Fires had destroyed or damaged many stadiums built with wood, including South End Grounds, which burned down in 1894 when a group of boys set fire to a pile of rubbish under the right field bleachers, and the Polo Grounds in New York, which was effectively destroyed on April 14, 1911.  Newer venues made of concrete and steel began to dot baseball’s landscape, beginning with Shibe Park in Philadelphia, which opened its doors on April 12, 1909 and Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, which opened two-and-half months later on June 30.

In 1911, the Taylors finally decided to pull the trigger on a new concrete and steel stadium, prompted in part by Boston Elevated Railway’s threat to cut two streets through the Huntington Avenue Grounds “by right of eminent domain.”  In February, General Taylor attended a meeting held by Fenway area land owners, whose purpose was to “develop along broad lines of Fenway land,” and “secure the best kind of buildings for this vicinity.”

“Attention of the landowners was called to the necessity of their consulting the executive committee before making any sales to undesirable persons, who might erect buildings out of harmony with the neighborhood,” reported the Boston Globe.  Out of this meeting emerged a new organization called the Fenway Improvement Association led by John H. Storer, who was elected president.  That same day, the Baltimore Sun reported that Taylor had purchased a parcel of land in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston called the Dana Lands at public auction for $120,000.  The 363,308 square foot plot, assessed at $219,200, was a half-mile from the Charles River and just across the Muddy River from the old ballpark.

According to the Sun, plans for the new park had already been drawn up and construction was to begin before the end of summer.  With an expected seating capacity of 40,000, Fenway Park was to hold more than twice as many spectators as the team’s old park, which held only 17,000.  But it wasn’t until September 29 that the land was transferred over to Taylor and his partners, who were all trustees in the Fenway Realty trust, “created with a capital of $300,000, divided into 3000 shares of $100, practically all held by the owners of the club, this form being advised as the most convenient way to carry out the new development.”  The firm of Millet, Roe & Hagen purchased $275,000 worth of nontaxable bonds to finance the building of the stadium.

The building of Fenway Park was part of a grander plan hatched by the Taylors, who were looking to sell the team while holding on to Fenway with the intent of renting it out to future owners.  The Taylors figured they would attract more bidders willing to pay a higher price for the team if they had new facilities in which to play.  Two weeks before they broke ground on Fenway, the Taylors found buyers in the form of Washington Senators manager James McAleer and American League secretary Robert McRoy.

McAleer was a long-time baseball veteran from Youngstown, Ohio, who began his major league career in 1889 as an outfielder with the National League’s Cleveland Spiders.  In 1890, he played with the Cleveland Infants of the short-lived Players League, then rejoined the Spiders, with whom he played until 1898.  During his career, he earned a reputation for defensive prowess—Bill James named him the best outfielder of the 1890s, Franklin Lewis called him “perhaps the most graceful outfielder known to the game with the exception of Tris Speaker,” and F.C. Lane called him “undoubtedly one of the greatest outfielders the game ever knew.”

McAleer was considered the best outfielder of the 1890s before becoming a manager and eventually a baseball magnate

In 1899, McAleer moved back to Youngstown and purchased and managed the Youngstown Little Giants, a Class B minor league team in the Interstate League.  The next year, he was named manager of the Cleveland Lake Shores of the newly formed, but still minor league American League, and led his squad to a sixth-place finish.  In 1901, the American League, led by president Ban Johnson, assumed major league status.  McAleer led the Cleveland franchise, now known as the Blues, to a seventh-place finish, 29 games behind the pennant-winning White Sox, but proved to be invaluable in the junior circuit’s war against the snobbish National League, whose owners effectively told Johnson to “go to hell” when he expressed a desire to explain his league’s demand for equality.

Johnson’s response was to send his men to National League cities in an effort to convince N.L. players to jump ship and join the American League.  Of the 46 players approached, only one, Honus Wagner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, remained loyal to his team.  Then, prior to the 1902 season, Johnson decided to move the floundering Milwaukee Brewers into St. Louis to compete directly with the senior circuit’s most popular team, the Cardinals.  The Cards drew almost 380,000 fans in 1901, 25,638 more than the next closest team, the Chicago White Sox, and 82,338 more than the New York Giants.

Johnson hired McAleer to manage the St. Louis Browns and enlisted him to talk to the Cardinals players personally in an effort to convince them to jump ship.  McAleer had played with many of them and not only did he succeed in convincing them to jump leagues, but he gutted the Cardinals roster of most of its better players—Hall of Famers Jesse Burkett and Bobby Wallace, second baseman Dick Padden, outfielder Emmet Heidrick, and pitchers Jack Powell, Jack Harper, and Willie Sudhoff.  The Cardinals’ winning percentage dropped from .543 in 1901 to .418 in 1902 and they fell from fourth to sixth place.  Meanwhile the Browns went 78-58 and finished in second place, five games behind the pennant-winning Philadelphia Athletics.  More importantly they captured the city’s affection, drawing 45,866 more fans to their games than the Cardinals.

Despite little success as a manager—from 1901-1911, McAleer’s teams won only 45% of their games and only once finished out of the second division—the former flycatcher was well-liked and, according to William A. Phelon, “a suave, entertaining character, and a fine type of the men who have come up from the ranks of the players.”

Robert McRoy was from Chicago, the son of George G. McRoy, vice-president of Edson Keith & Co., a successful dry-goods wholesaler whose annual sales stood at $4.5 million in 1884, two years after Robert’s birth.  After graduating from business college, McRoy went to work for Moore & Evans, a wholesale jewelry firm that eventually went bankrupt, before becoming Ban Johnson’s secretary in 1900.

Robert McRoy served as Ban Johnson's secretary before becoming part-owner of the Red Sox in 1911

“In this confidential capacity, McRoy, who was an amateur player of considerable skill, also secured a working knowledge of the business end of the game,” wrote the Chicago Tribune.  “He was business representative of the national commission in five world’s series.”  He so admired Johnson that he named his son Burton Bancroft McRoy, paying tribute to his employer by bestowing Johnson’s middle name on his boy.

“He knows the game from A to Z, and is a bright, capable, quick-thinking little fellow,” wrote Phelon.  And Jacob C. Morse wrote, “Robert McRoy will be business manager.  This is a role of vital importance to the prosperity of the club and Mr. McRoy is eminently fitted to fill his difficult and responsible position.”

Before the deal was final, newspapers began to report the details—McAleer and McRoy would own 50 percent of the Red Sox for a price of $150,000—but the Washington Post wondered aloud how the two were going to come up with the money and insisted that Johnson must be involved.  “As is usually the case in such deals, an air of mystery is being thrown over everything,” reported the Post on September 14, 1911.  “McAleer, in Youngstown, is quoted by the Associated Press as saying: ‘There will be no one in this deal except myself.  I do not expect to see Ban Johnson, and have no reason for seeing him.’  This is idle, if correctly quoted.  McAleer has made good money, and saved some of it.  But he has not the money with which to swing a $150,000 deal, and he cannot swing it without advice and consent from President Johnson.”

The Post also speculated that Johnson would be the “dominant factor” because McRoy was the Red Sox’s new financial man.  Joe S. Jackson continued to beat the Post’s drum when he reported the next day, “It will also raise some embarrassing and possibly wholly uncalled for queries as to how far President Johnson himself is concerned in the deal now completed.  One thing can be said for the league executive—he looks out for his friends…McRoy has been a faithful and a not overpaid employee, and gets a chance to share in some of the fruits of his industry.  A majority interest was not necessary, for, with an equal ownership, President Johnson’s peculiar measure of authority assures the stockholders with whom he stands the balance of power in the case of any disputes.”

In fact, Johnson had already wielded his power by effectively telling John I. Taylor to go “sit in the corner” while he and General Taylor hashed out the details of the transaction.  On September 16, newspapers reported that the deal was official and a press release was issued to the media:

“Negotiations connected with the sale of an interest in the Boston American League baseball club have resulted in the purchase of a half interest by James R. McAleer, of Washington, and Robert B. McRoy, of Chicago.  As both of these gentlemen have been actively engaged elsewhere, they will not be able to come to Boston until the beginning of the year 1912.

“At that time they will come to Boston to live and join in the active management of the Red Sox.  Both are versed in baseball and have marked ability and they ought to greatly strengthen the organization.  Plans for a new ball park which will be a credit to Boston will now be formulated and the work pushed ahead at a rapid rate.”

Based on the press release, the Washington Post inferred that John I. Taylor “will not be heard from after this season.”  That was the plan all along.  Differing reports had General Taylor tired of seeing his son’s name in his newspaper and John I. himself tired of the pressures of running a ball club.  Either way, it looked like John I. was going to fade into the background.  The New York Times went one step further and reported that former Red Sox first baseman Jake Stahl would be coming out of retirement to play first base and manage the team.  Stahl began his career with the Red Sox in 1903 before moving on to the Washington Senators, whom he managed to back-to-back seventh-place finishes in 1905-1906.

Stahl spent the 1907 season playing semi-pro ball in Chicago after Washington refused his request to be traded back to Boston, then played left field for the New York Highlanders during the first half of the 1908 season before being sold back to Boston on July 10, where he resumed first base duties.  He enjoyed his two best seasons in 1909-1910, batting .282 and slugging .429, and paced the American League in homers in 1910 with a career-high 10 round-trippers, but left baseball in 1911 to become an officer and stockholder in Chicago’s Washington Park National Bank, owned by his father-in-law W.F. Mahan.

According to the papers, Stahl had hoped to become part owner of the Red Sox with McAleer and his good friend McRoy, but negotiations had dragged on too long and he dropped out.  But according to other accounts, Stahl did, in fact, become part owner, as did his father-in-law, both of whom owned five percent of the team.

News of the deal brought excitement to the New England area.  The Hartford Courant practically handed John I. his hat and slammed the door behind him on his way out.  “The greatest handicap which the Boston team has had to contend with in the past few years has been its owner, John I. Taylor,” wrote the paper.  “While he has been as anxious as any enthusiastic fan to bring a winning team to the Hub, his tendency to stick his hand into the management of the team and interfere with the work of the man whom he had put over the players, has done more than anything else to keep the Red Sox down in the list.”

But that same day, the Washington Post reported again that Ban Johnson was the actual buyer of half of Boston’s stock and that McAleer only contributed $25,000.  The deal was said to be for $125,000 and not the $150,000 previously reported and that Johnson wrote the Taylors a check for the entire amount.  “McAleer is interested to the extent of probably not more than $25,000, and perhaps less,” reported the Post.  “McRoy’s actual holdings were not estimated, but it may be surmised that he is in the deal largely as a personal representative of the Johnson interests.  McAleer, under this arrangement, may be president of the club, but if he is, it will not be as one of the really big stockholders.”  A source close to the Taylors estimated that McAleer’s actual investment was $15,000, which he raised by selling property he owned in Youngstown.

Those "in the know" suspected Ban Johnson was the true owner of 50% of Red Sox stock when McAleer, McRoy, and Stahl "bought" half the team

The Coshocton Daily Times out of Ohio chimed in as well.  “In baseball circles Ban Johnson is looked upon as the owner of the Boston American League franchise.  The sale of the club recently to Jim McAleer and Rob McRoy made the knowing ones smile.  Neither McAleer nor McRoy has been credited with being a wealthy man…those on the inside of baseball are confident that it was Johnson who put up the money.”

McAleer immediately issued denials that his investment was anything less than that initially reported and that he had contributed more than $50,000 towards the purchase.  “So big a share of my savings have been taken by me from the banks in which they were deposited, or out of investments, and put into this deal, that if baseball were to die tomorrow I would have to start life anew,” he told reporters.  McAleer was allegedly worth approximately $75,000 and, had he invested all of it, would have owned 25% of the team’s stock.  Since McRoy’s contribution was never established, Johnson’s name continued to come up as a major stockholder in the Red Sox, owning at least 25% of the team and possibly more if McAleer’s investment was indeed closer to $15,000-$25,000 than the $50,000-$75,000 he insisted was his actual share.

Gossip about the sale and its details finally died down for a while and focus shifted to Stahl as autumn inched closer to winter.  McAleer and McRoy announced on November 6 that Stahl had agreed to come back to baseball and manage the Red Sox, but Stahl denied the report and insisted he’d yet to make a decision, but intimated there was little chance he’d return.  Later it was reported that McAleer made at least a dozen trips to Chicago to convince Stahl to come back, telling him that he was the “missing link” the team needed to win a championship and with a new ballpark in place, they could make a lot of money.  He also relayed to Stahl how much respect and admiration the players had for him.  “Jim had felt out the players during the 1911 campaign,” wrote the Mansfield News, “and he says that in all his experience he never found a player so universally popular with his teammates as Stahl.  The Red Sox players admire Jake as much for his excellent qualities as a man as for his ability as a player.”

As is usually the case following such a terse denial Stahl signed a two-year contract five days later to play first base and manage the Red Sox from 1912-1913. On the day Stahl’s return was reported, a list of investors was also made public, verifying that Stahl and his father-in-law were stockholders, as were McAleer, McRoy, and a Chicago investor named C.H. Randall, all of whom allegedly owned half the team.

Before the ink was dry on Stahl’s new contract, newspapers began trumpeting reports about McRoy’s return to Chicago from Boston and his meetings with Johnson, in which the two discussed Boston’s spring training plans.  “Just how President Johnson figured in Boston club affairs was not stated specifically,” Joe S. Jackson wrote in the Washington Post on November 14.  “It is not customary for club owners to get instructions from league officials or outsiders as to their training plans.”  In an effort to maintain some kind of authority, John I. Taylor announced that the Red Sox would return to Hot Springs, Arkansas to train in 1912, after abandoning Hot Springs in 1911 for Redondo Beach, California.  McRoy conferred with Taylor about the decision, but McAleer did not.

Apparently Hot Springs enticed the Red Sox to come back by agreeing to build new baseball grounds that would satisfy two teams instead of one.  Previously, the Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds would battle for time on the lone diamond and both teams’ managers would complain about the fact that they only had half-a-day to train.  But now each team would have its own diamond, assuming that McRoy and Reds president Garry Herrmann approved of the cost of construction.

Prior to the start of the season, Red Sox brass still had to deal with red tape, but most of it was just a formality.  McRoy resigned his post as American League secretary and was replaced by William Harridge.  Stahl was reinstated to good standing by the National Commission, which declared him eligible to play again on the grounds that he played ball only with the Woodlawn Business Men’s Association in 1911 and only for charity, and that he didn’t play with or against ineligible players, which would have drawn a fine at the very least.  Then McAleer was officially named president of the team, with John I. Taylor acting as vice-president, McRoy as treasurer, and General Taylor and his attorney, J.H. Turner, being named directors.

McAleer’s first order of business was to reduce his work force to 35 men by letting go of some of the team’s scouts, although he hired Joseph Quirk, his former trainer in St. Louis and Washington.  Of course, controversy continued to dog the franchise, as it was reported in late December that Johnson, McRoy, and Harridge left Chicago quietly for a “secluded spot” in which they were to meet National League president Thomas Lynch, Pirates owner Barney Dreyfus, and N.L. secretary John Heydler for the purpose of discussing the playing schedule.  Those who might have wondered why McRoy accompanied the A.L. contingent need look no further than his commitment to stay on as acting secretary until the end of the year when Harridge would take over on a full-time basis.  But conspiracy theorists relished the idea of McRoy and Johnson holding clandestine meetings about the Red Sox.

Approximately three weeks later, McAleer went on the defensive again, insisting to Sporting Life that Johnson had no financial interest in the Red Sox and that those who continued to crow about his involvement, especially Chicago Cubs owner Charles Murphy, were talking through their hats.  Murphy told reporters that it wouldn’t be long before baseball would see “Johnson’s robust form nestling closely in the bosom of the Presidential chair of the Red Sox,” and that by placing McAleer and McRoy in Boston’s front office, “Johnson got in a ‘wedge.’”

But McAleer refuted that in a statement he made to Sporting Life in it’s January 27, 1912 issue:

“You can take it from me and tell it to the public and any one that wants to hear it, that Ban Johnson doesn’t own one penny’s worth of this club.  I’m telling you straight.  It’s my money and McRoy’s money that we have put into this club.  I’m the president of the new club since the recent change in owners, and I’m going to be president until I get out of baseball or until I quit breathing.  These people who are chirping about Johnson backing us give me a pain.  They don’t know what they’re talking about, and for that reason they should be looked after and kept quiet.  This goes for that Murphy person from Chicago.  Ban Johnson is my friend, and, of course, he is McRoy’s friend, too, for we worked for him for a good many years.  He knows McRoy as he would his own son, and for that reason wants him to make good.  The only thing Ban Johnson has in this club is his heart.  That’s here because McRoy is connected with it, and because he and I have always been warm friends.  Take it straight from headquarters that it’s heart and hope, not money and power, that Bancroft Byron Johnson [sic] has in this base ball club.”

Only two weeks passed before more controversy cropped up.  On February 10, 1912, Sporting Life reported that Hugh McBreen, who acted as treasurer of the Red Sox from 1906-1909, invested his life savings in the Jersey City Skeeters of the Class AA International League and speculated that Jersey City would serve as a Red Sox farm team, which was illegal at the time.  The Red Sox acquired pitcher Hugh Bedient from Jersey City for a handful of players, including pitcher Jack Killilay, but of the 28 players on the Jersey City roster in 1912, only five ended up in Boston and only Bedient enjoyed any kind of success.  Killilay pitched for the Sox in 1911, going 4-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 14 appearances, then spent the next five seasons in the minors, with his best season coming in 1912 when he went 15-4 with a 2.55 ERA with Oakland of the Pacific Coast League.  Bedient went 20-9 for the Sox as a 22-year-old rookie in 1912, then pitched to a 0.50 ERA in four World Series appearances before a sore arm ended his major league career in 1915.  Needless to say, both McBreen and McAleer denied any relationship between the Skeeters and the Red Sox.

While the team trained in Arkansas, Fenway Park was nearing completion.  The Red Sox christened their new grounds on April 9 with a 2-0 exhibition win over Harvard University, then officially opened it on April 20 with a hard-fought 7-6, 11-inning victory over the New York Highlanders.  The victory gave them a 5-1 record on the young season, but their play fell off and they went 11-9 in their next 20 games, putting them in second place at 16-10, five-and-a-half games behind the Chicago White Sox, on May 18.  From there, though, the team took off and won at a .706 clip the rest of the way to finish with an American League record 105 wins.

Center fielder Tris Speaker was named the league’s most valuable player after hitting .383 and leading the league in homers (10), doubles (53), and on-base percentage (.464).  Smoky Joe Wood fashioned one of the greatest seasons of all time, going 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA and 258 strikeouts, and winning 16 consecutive games from July 8 to September 20.  And while Stahl the manager was leading his team to 105 victories, Stahl the first baseman was hitting .301 with 60 RBIs in only 95 games.

Attendance across the A.L. dipped slightly from 1911 to 1912, dropping by two percent, but attendance in Boston was up 18% as nearly 600,000 fans watched the Sox play at Fenway Park.  Braves attendance also climbed a modest four percent, but they drew only 121,000 patrons.

On June 8, with the Sox sitting in second place at 28-18 only one game behind the White Sox, Henry P. Edwards reported that all was rosy with Red Sox management.  McAleer was more than happy to sit in his owner’s box and let Jake Stahl do all the worrying.  “I am genuinely happy to be where I am at the head of a club after all these years and just stick in a word of advice now and then—but never during the progress of the game.  Not on your life.”  But at least one writer gave all the credit to Stahl, calling McAleer “an autocratic sort of fellow when his interests are at stake.”  “The fact that McAleer is content to sit back quietly as an American League magnate is certainly a tribute to the diplomacy of Stahl,” wrote W.J. MacBeth.

The Red Sox tied the White Sox on June 10, then took over first place for good on the 11th and never looked back.  In August, Sporting Life reported that Paul Powers, the majority owner of the Youngstown (OH) Steelmen of the Class B Central League was considering selling a half interest to McAleer.  Five days later, McAleer signed 19-year-old shortstop Everett Scott off the Youngstown roster.

As the season progressed, more details about McAleer’s interest in the Red Sox emerged.  In late September, it was reported that McAleer owned $200,000 worth of Red Sox stock and paid for it with $130,000 of his own money and $70,000 borrowed from White Sox owner Charles Comiskey.  Then Sporting Life corroborated that report in mid-October, adding that McAleer had made $20,000 a year for the last eight years of his managerial and scouting career and that he saved all of it.  At first blush, it would seem odd that another American League magnate would lend such a substantial sum of money to a rival, but Comiskey and McAleer were more than just mere acquaintances.  They played against each other in the Players League in 1890 and in the National League from 1892-1894, and Comiskey always considered McAleer to be the best outfielder he’d ever seen.

Later on the two men became hunting buddies.  During the offseason, Comiskey and his good friend Ban Johnson would head to Minnesota and Wisconsin every fall to hunt and fish, taking other baseball executives, players, and writers with them on their excursions, the group rarely numbering less than 60.  In 1907, Comiskey purchased the Jerome Hunting and Fishing Club on Trude Lake, twelve miles south of Mercer, Wisconsin and renamed it Camp Jerome.  It became home to the “Woodland Bards,” a group of Comiskey’s friends that initially numbered 35, eventually grew to 250, and included McAleer, McRoy and Stahl.  Later, McAleer and his wife would accompany Comiskey on his world tour in 1913.

Towards the end of the season, some congratulated McAleer on his long-awaited success, while others gave him little credit for the team’s fortunes.  One newspaper pointed out that it was Taylor who’d acquired all of the players upon which the team was built, and that the McAleer/McRoy contingency contributed “no playing material and are reaping the profits resulting from Taylor’s judgment.”

Either way, the team was a runaway success and headed into the World Series to take on the John McGraw-led New York Giants, who famously refused to meet Boston eight years earlier to determine a champion at the conclusion of the 1904 season.  The Red Sox took Games One, Four, and Five and went into Game Six with a three-games-to-one lead (Game 2 ended in a 6-6 tie) and a clear path to their second World Series title.  Everyone expected Joe Wood to start Game Six at the Polo Grounds and Red Sox players were so confident of victory behind “Smoky Joe” that they were already calculating their winning shares on the train trip to New York.  McGraw was expected to counter with Rube Marquard, who began the season with a 19-game winning streak, en route to a league-leading 26 wins, and pitched brilliantly in the Giants’ only win in the first five contests, allowing only one run on seven scattered hits in a 2-1 Game Three victory.

But an odd thing happened on the way to the championship.  Needing only one more win to bring home the championship, Stahl tabbed Buck O’Brien, a 30-year-old journeyman hurler, who enjoyed a very good season, going 20-13 with a 2.58 ERA, then suffered a heartbreaking loss to Marquard in Game Three.  But as good as he’d been that year, he was no Joe Wood.  Stahl half-jokingly told reporters after Game Five that he was planning on starting O’Brien in Game Six.  Many newspapers reported that Ray Collins would most likely get the start.  O’Brien was an interesting selection for Stahl, who, according to Mike Vaccaro, “pushed every proper button” to that point in the Series.  “He’d shown faith in Hugh Bedient,” wrote Vaccaro.  “He’d eschewed small ball in favor of big innings, a gamble that had paid off.  Refusing to be intimidated by McGraw, he’d told his team to play the way they were accustomed to playing, not be sucked in by anything the Giants tried.”

But it wasn’t Stahl’s decision at all, it was McAleer’s.  It was an odd time for McAleer to go back on his earlier statement that he wouldn’t interfere with Stahl’s handling of the lineup, and his intentions were more Machiavellian than he was letting on, although no one was fooled.  On the train to New York, McAleer sidled up next to Stahl and more or less demanded that O’Brien start Game Six so he could avenge his loss at the hands of Marquard in Game Three.  Besides, he argued, Wood would get two extra days off instead of one and would be fresher for Game Seven at Fenway Park.

But everyone knew McAleer was hoping for an extra home game, which would bring in more revenue, especially with Wood on the mound.  Stahl tried to convince McAleer that his strategy was risky, that O’Brien may have won 20 games but he also lost 13 during the regular season and his only World Series start, despite pitching well.  But McAleer would have none of it.  The move either backfired or worked perfectly, depending on the perspective.  O’Brien lasted only eight batters and allowed five runs on six hits and an error before coming out of the game after only one inning.  To add insult to injury, he balked the first run home and recorded the first balk in World Series history.  Ray Collins took over in the second and was masterful, shutting out the Giants for the rest of the game on only five hits.  But Marquard was brilliant again, going the distance and allowing only two unearned runs on seven hits in the 5-2 Giants victory.

Most were furious when they learned that O’Brien and not Wood was getting the nod.  Wood’s brother Paul, especially, who wagered $100 on his sibling, figuring it was money in the bank.  Because it was a last-minute decision, O’Brien had allegedly been out drinking the night before and was in no shape to pitch.  But Stahl sent him out there anyway under McAleer’s orders.  After the game tensions were high, and according to Glenn Stout, Paul accosted O’Brien on the train back to Boston and punched him in the face, giving the hurler a black eye.  A separate report in the Washington Post claimed that O’Brien retaliated by punching Joe Wood in the face while the two argued about Game Six in the dugout prior to Game Seven.  According to the article, Red Sox catchers Bill Carrigan and Hick Cady were also involved at one point or another.

Meanwhile, just as McAleer had hoped, both teams’ coffers continued to swell.  Joe S. Jackson reported that the gate receipts for Game Six came to $66,654, that total receipts for the Series climbed to $403,133 and, that after the leagues got their cut, each team would easily clear over $100,000.

Not to be outdone, however, McRoy blundered next by inexplicably selling the Royal Rooters’ seats in the makeshift left field bleachers to the general public prior to Game Seven.  The Rooters were a band of Red Sox fans made up of Boston luminaries such as Boston mayor John Fitzgerald, Johnny Keenan, and Michael “Nuf Ced” McGreevey, owner of the Third Base Saloon and arbiter of all things baseball.  They’d been vociferously rooting for the Red Sox since the team’s inception, after abandoning the National League because of its syndicate practices, and had been instrumental in helping the Sox win games by incessantly singing “Tessie” from the Broadway musical “The Glass Slipper” to inspire their boys while distracting the opponent.

Three hundred Rooters arrived in New York for Game One, accompanied by a brass band, and received a round of applause from Giants fans who enjoyed the revelers’ renditions of “Tessie,” “Sweet Adelaide,” and a bastardized version of “Tammany,” which boasted custom lyrics celebrating the Boston nine.  Then after Boston’s 4-3 Game One victory, the Rooters marched out of the Polo Grounds singing a custom version of “In the Good Old Summertime.”  And so it went—the Rooters would parade around the ballpark, singing, making noise, and carrying on; take their seats, sing and make more noise; then parade out of the ballpark at contest’s end.

By Game Six their numbers had doubled, and despite a disappointing 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Giants, the Rooters marched out of the Polo Grounds with the same fervor and swagger they always had.  They marched into Fenway Park amid the same pomp and circumstance prior to Game Seven, paraded around the field to the strains of “Tessie,” then headed for their customary left field seats, only to find them already occupied.  After holding up the game with a near riot eventually quelled by Keenan and Boston police, the dejected revelers were forced to take up residence wherever they could find room to stand.  Needless to say, they were not happy, especially Fitzgerald, who promised he’d deal with McAleer and McRoy after the game.

Once the game got underway, Smoky Joe Wood was obliterated by the Giants, who plated six first-inning runs on seven hits, a double steal, and a sacrifice, en route to a resounding 11-4 win that evened the Series at three wins apiece, and was deemed “a slaughter” by the Boston Globe’s Tim Murnane.  Wood lasted only one inning and faced all of nine batters before coming out in favor of Charley Hall, who surrendered five more runs in eight innings.  The Rooters, who’d been silent throughout the contest, took the shellacking as expected and used the opportunity to voice their displeasure at the “utmost discourtesy” with which they were treated.  After the game, they marched around the park and booed McRoy unmercifully, while cheering loudly for the Giants’ management.  Then they marched out of the park and towards the team’s offices, insisting that McRoy make an appearance and explain himself.

McRoy explained that he had not been contacted by a member of the Rooters until 12:45, three hours later than was usual for them, and was afraid he’d be stuck with unsold tickets, so he ordered the reserved section be opened to the public.  “The situation was the result of a misunderstanding,” McRoy explained.  “There was absolutely no intention on my part to be discourteous to the rooters.  I have tried my best to please everyone, and if the Royal Rooters don’t like it, they should take their medicine like the rest of us.”  Keenan refuted McRoy’s version of the events and insisted there was no way their block of tickets was still sitting on McRoy’s desk at 12:45 because he’d already received and distributed approximately half of them at 12:20.  Timothy Mooney, chief of the bureau of information of the Mayor’s office, corroborated Keenan’s version of the story, claiming he’d signed for and picked up the tickets at noon.

Regardless, the Rooters were incensed and weren’t about to “take their medicine.”  In fact, Fitzgerald called for McRoy’s head.  “Secy McRoy of Chicago should be retired from all connection with the Boston Baseball Club, and a Boston man who understands conditions here given the place.  Boston money supports the club, and there is certainly enough baseball brains in Boston to furnish a secretary.” The Rooters abandoned the Red Sox and refused to attend the final game of the Series, won by Boston, 2-1, in dramatic fashion.  In fact, attendance was only 17,034, half of what it had been in previous games at Fenway Park.  Some even claimed the days of the Royal Rooters were past and that they’d disband forever.

McAleer refused to comment until he knew more, but issued a public apology at the team’s victory celebration held at Faneuil Hall the next day.  Then he and McRoy headed to Camp Jerome with Charles Comiskey, Ban Johnson, Garry Herrmann, White Sox skipper Nixie Callahan, and more than 30 others for their annual hunting and fishing expedition.  Despite the apology, Keenan swore he’d never set foot in Fenway Park as long as McRoy was still in the front office.  While the Red Sox magnates were in Wisconsin, Sporting Life weighed in on the controversy.  “That one or two of the new club officials are unpopular with Boston fans and the newspaper reporters is a fact that would be useless to try to conceal.  Rank errors of judgment have been made…It is a pity that the new management has made itself unpopular with this best and fair-minded base ball community in the country.  It would not be surprising if there was some kind of a change in officials here before another season rolls around.”

Upon arriving home from his trip to Camp Jerome, Ban Johnson also issued a statement, in which he expressed regret over the incident and promised to take steps to ensure the Rooters would be better taken care of in the future.  But he also took Fitzgerald to task for not going to Johnson or McAleer directly, for “unjustly censuring” McRoy, and for being ungrateful for all that Johnson had done to ensure the Rooters had tickets for Game One in New York.  “When Mayor Fitzgerald was turned down after requesting 300 seats for the rooters for the first game of the World’s Series at the Polo Grounds it was through my personal efforts that he was finally accommodated…I also sent [National League Secretary John] Heydler to Boston to offer an apology when he delivered the reservation.”

Once the dust settled, it was time to get back to business and prepare for the 1913 campaign.  Sporting Life reported in early November that the Red Sox made $450,000 during the 1912 season and that Stahl had cleared $35,000 thanks to his $10,000 salary as manager, his $4,024.69 World Series share, and dividends on his five percent ownership in the team.  The offseason was mostly uneventful—McAleer mailed out contracts to his players then insisted that despite the mayor’s call for a new secretary, McRoy was going nowhere and would not retire under outside threats or demands; he announced that 8,000 seats would go for 25 cents, more than any other park in major league baseball (this was something Fitzgerald practically demanded during the Game Seven ticket fiasco); and Jake Stahl announced he’d be coming back as Red Sox manager but would no longer play.

Not long after ringing in the new year, McAleer predicted the upcoming pennant race would come down to the Red Sox, Philadelphia Athletics, and Washington Senators.  But after hearing in March that the writers had pegged the A’s to cop the pennant, McAleer became a bit indignant.  “The team that will win the American League pennant this season…will be exactly the same club that won the flag and championship last Fall.  There’s nothing else to it.”  The rest of the team felt the same way and broke camp with confidence.  McAleer swore it was the best training camp with which he’d ever been involved, which was saying a lot considering he’d been associated with the game for 27 years.

But perhaps the team’s confidence and McAleer’s hubris was misplaced.  During camp, Joe Wood sprained his ankle while reaching for a throw at third base, then severely injured his right thumb when he slipped on wet grass while fielding a grounder.  “I don’t know whether I tried to pitch too soon after that,” Wood told Lawrence Ritter, “or whether maybe something happened to my shoulder at the same time.  But whatever it was, I never pitched again without a terrific amount of pain in my right shoulder.  Never again.”  Wood battled through the pain into July and compiled a record of 11-5 and an ERA of 2.29 that ranked 10th in the American League.  And despite the injury, he fanned more batters per nine innings (7.6) than ever before.  But in mid-July he slipped during a rundown and broke his already wounded digit, putting him out of action until late September when he made a handful of relief appearances.

Even before Wood fractured his thumb, the team was in turmoil.  The Sox started out 16-22 and found themselves in fifth place, already 12 games behind the front-running Athletics.  They were much better in June, going 18-8 to get over the .500 mark, but still managed to lose ground to the surging A’s, who extended their lead over Cleveland from only a half-game at the end of May to eight-and-a-half games by June’s end, and were on pace to win 114 games.  After Wood’s last start of the year on July 18, a 5-1 loss to Hooks Dauss and the Detroit Tigers, the Red Sox were already hopelessly out of the race, 18 ½ games out of first.

Jake Stahl managed the Red Sox to a World Series title in 1912 before being dismissed in 1913 for attempting to unseat McAleer as president of the club

Fissures in management began to form and by mid-July, newspapers were reporting that McAleer and Stahl were engaged in a battle for control of the team and one or the other would have to go.  The New York Times reported that McAleer blamed Stahl for the team’s poor performance and that Stahl was trying to undermine McAleer.  The Washington Post claimed that Stahl had been trying to unseat McAleer as president of the club since before the season started.  Sporting Life took it a step further and reported that the fissure began almost from the beginning of the partnership, that Stahl and McRoy, already good friends, couldn’t understand why McAleer was named president, and that McAleer was jealous of Stahl and McRoy’s friendship.  McAleer, of course, denied having a rift with Stahl, even though he was on his way to Chicago to meet with Ban Johnson about that very thing.  Johnson also denied knowing about dissention among the Red Sox and was unaware why McAleer had scheduled a meeting with him.

When McAleer arrived in Chicago, he issued a statement to the press.  “Early in the season I was told by a New York man that Jake Stahl was planning to get the presidency of the club. I spoke to Stahl about the matter.  He denied the story and the matter was dropped.  I am certain there is nothing to it, for Mr. Stahl is well aware that it would be utterly impossible to beat me out for the presidency I hold.  You can say that Manager Stahl and I are in perfect accord and the best of friends.”

Two days later, Stahl was released from his managerial duties.  According to both men, Stahl had asked where he stood with the club and McAleer told him that if he wasn’t playing and only managing he was “of little use to the club” and that he wouldn’t be retained as manager after the season.  McAleer wasn’t fond of Stahl’s managerial abilities and ignored the fact that his manager had a seriously injured foot that required surgery which made him unable to play.  McAleer felt that Stahl, the non-playing skipper, was too expensive to keep around, so he told the press that he released Stahl “for the good of the club.”  Other reports stated that the shareholders wanted a playing manager and not one who called the shots from the bench.

Stahl was incensed, although he insisted he was satisfied with the decision, especially since he was going to be paid through the end of the season.  “McAleer didn’t want me, and I don’t propose to stay with any man that is not in full sympathy with me.  That is about all there is to it.”  Seven-year veteran catcher Bill Carrigan was named as Stahl’s successor.

It didn’t take long for the backlash to hit the papers.  Johnson issued a statement in which he called McAleer’s decision “hasty, ill-advised, and unsportsmanlike” and wondered why the Sox magnate couldn’t wait until the end of the season to change managers.  “As it is, Stahl has been humiliated in his home city, and the American League has been placed in the unenviable position of dropping in mid-season a manager who won the World’s Championship last Fall.  Stahl was an honorable and competent manager and was highly esteemed in our league.”  McAleer immediately issued a rebuttal stating that Stahl “practically insisted on quitting then and there” when he was told a managerial change would be made during the offseason.  “When Pres Johnson sees me and gets the story straight he will change his opinion,” McAleer told Murnane.

A day later, Johnson was still waiting for an explanation, but McAleer claimed there was none to give.  Then he quashed rumors about a deal that would have sent Tris Speaker to Detroit for Ty Cobb.  Apparently McAleer was worried that Speaker would react unfavorably to Stahl’s removal and thought he might have to trade him, but Speaker insisted that Stahls’ release was none of his business and that he was playing for his salary and was satisfied with Boston.  Less than a week later, the Los Angeles Times reported that John I. and Charles Taylor were “after” McAleer and that they wanted to take full control of the team again.

Carrigan proved to be a success at the helm of the club, leading the Red Sox to a 40-30 finish, but criticism continued to land on McAleer.  Baseball Magazine called Stahl’s removal, “a stain of ingratitude and selfishness cast on organized baseball,” and a “blunder,” and William Phelon called Stahl “a good fellow, a splendid character, and an honor to the game.”

In November, rumors began circulating that the Taylors were looking to sell their shares of stock, although Sporting Life wasn’t buying it and thought the Taylors would sell only if they received $500,000, which was unlikely.  Then the same magazine reported two weeks later that the Taylors reversed course and offered McAleer and McRoy $220,000 for their shares in order to regain complete control of the team.  A statement by Ban Johnson seemingly corroborated the report although the Taylors refused to confirm or deny the pending purchase.

Finally, the Boston Globe reported on December 1 that the shares owned by the “Chicago interests” led by McAleer, McRoy, and Stahl were to be sold to Joseph J. Lannin of the Lannin Realty Company, severing all ties McAleer, McRoy, and Stahl had with the Red Sox.  It’s also interesting to note that the Globe reported, “The change in ownership has the sanction of Pres Johnson of the American League, who had a prominent part in the negotiations…”  Not only did Johnson have a “prominent part,” but he instigated them.  According to various sources, McAleer told Johnson to sell his shares while he was touring the world with Comiskey, but evidence to the contrary suggests otherwise.  According to Red Sox historian Bill Nowlin, “Joe Cashman told Peter Golenbock that McAleer received a telegram reading, ‘You have just sold the Red Sox to Joseph Lannin.  Ban Johnson.’”  And both McRoy and Stahl were surprised at the news and claimed they knew nothing about the sale.

A Canadian, Lannin was a self-made man who worked as a bell hop at the St. Louis Hotel in Quebec, Canada in the 1880s before immigrating to Boston at only 15 and securing a similar position.  He worked his way up to head bellboy, head of a watch, assistant head waiter, then steward of the Ocean View Hotel on Block Island, before becoming a real estate magnate after investing in property in a suburb of Boston known as Forest Hills.  From there, he began leasing hotels in New Jersey and New York and formed the Lannin Real Estate Company.

His first love was lacrosse, but Lannin eventually fell in love with baseball and figured there was money to be made in America’s Pastime.  He bought stock in the Boston Braves before selling it to become part-owner of the Red Sox.  “Warned by pessimists that baseball has reached or past its zenith as a money making proposition, the ex-Canadian…thinks enough of baseball’s future to invest wealth he has earned in other business in a half interest of a baseball property conservatively estimated at $700,000,” wrote Harvey T. Woodruff of the Chicago Tribune.

As for the sale of the shares held by the Chicago group, the New York Tribune put it most succinctly when it wrote, “As if to show that [Ban Johnson] is the complete master of the organization and that the individual owners are mere puppets in his hands, the banishment of Bob McRoy, James McAleer and Jake Stahl from the councils of the Boston Red Sox has been accomplished.  So great is the power of Johnson that he can blacklist an owner as easily as he can suspend a player.”  Later the same paper reported again what the baseball establishment already knew, that Johnson was the real owner of the stock.  “The remarkably peaceable way in which Johnson lopped off the heads of those he had marked, and the fact that neither Stahl not McRoy knew that negotiations were going on, leads to the belief that they were nothing but figureheads, lending their name to the real owner of the stock.”

But McRoy wasn’t about to go quietly and refused to sell his 62 shares of stock.  It wasn’t until Lannin, John I. Taylor, Charles Somers, Johnson, and Yankees president Frank Farrell dispensed advice to McRoy at the Hotel Wolcott in New York that he finally agreed to sign the transfer papers.

With that, Lannin was the Red Sox’s new president and the triumvirate of McAleer, McRoy, and Stahl were stripped of their power just as quickly as it had been bestowed upon them.


Johnson’s decision to put Lannin in charge of the Red Sox brought immediate success.  Under Lannin’s watch and the leadership of Bill Carrigan, who was retained as manager, the Sox won nearly 62% of their games and two World Series titles from 1914-1916 before Lannin sold the team to Harry Frazee in November 1916.  At the time of the sale, Lannin stated that he was getting out of major league baseball because of a heart condition, but evidence suggests that he was simply tired of Ban Johnson meddling in his affairs.  “The disgust that rankled in Lannin’s mind after several clashes with Johnson, was the potent factor that drove Lannin to look for a way out of the national game,” reported the Atlanta Constitution.

Lannin had bought the Taylors out in 1914 and took full control of the team.  One of his first orders of business was to lock up superstar center fielder Tris Speaker, who spurned the upstart Federal League to sign with Boston for two more years at $18,000 per annum.  Lanin wasn’t thrilled with the deal—he once accused his players of being “unreasonable” and “grasping” during contract negotiations—but he didn’t have much choice.  The presence of the Feds and their willingness to entice contract jumpers artificially raised salaries to unprecedented levels, forcing owners to pay more to keep their star players.  But when the Federal League collapsed following an unsuccessful anti-trust lawsuit against the American and National Leagues in 1915, major league owners couldn’t wait to restore salaries back to their pre-Federal League levels.

Lannin offered Speaker a salary of $9,000 for the 1916 season, citing his declining batting average as the reason he was trying to cut Speaker’s salary in half.  Speaker, of course, declined the offer and held out, although he told the press that he was merely negotiating with Lannin and didn’t want to be referred to as a “holdout.”  Then, without warning, Lannin dealt Speaker to the Cleveland Indians on April 8, 1916 for $55,000, pitcher “Sad Sam” Jones and infielder Fred Thomas.  “The proverbial pin could have dropped a million times in the hotel corridor and it would have made a noise like the sudden bursting of an automobile,” wrote the Boston Globe’s Mel Webb, Jr. upon hearing of the deal.  “Everyone was speechless.”

Lannin claimed that he couldn’t afford Speaker’s $15,000 asking price, which on the face of it was ridiculous considering the man once bought an entire minor league franchise just to acquire the rights to pitcher Carl Mays, and that the $55,000 “was so large…that he was obliged in fairness to all concerned to accept it.”

Those familiar with the situation smelled a rat, and his name was Ban Johnson.  Johnson brokered the deal between Boston and Cleveland and speculation has it that he coerced Lannin into pulling the trigger on the trade, a transaction described by Fred Lieb as “one of those inside affairs put over by the astute Ban Johnson.”  But Johnson wasn’t the only one trying to steer Speaker towards the Indians.  Cleveland’s primary negotiator was none other than former American League secretary and Red Sox co-owner, Bob McRoy, who now owned shares in the Indians and was acting as the Tribe’s vice-president.

Less than two months before the Speaker deal, Charles Somers was forced out as Indians owner by creditors to whom he owed almost $2 million.  Johnson purchased the team and held title for four owners, alleged to be James C. Dunn and P.S. McCarthy, with McRoy also named, although not confirmed.  Whether or not McRoy was an actual owner, he was definitely placed in charge of the Indians by Johnson and Dunn, who was named team president, but relinquished control to McRoy.  According to Harold Seymour, Dunn eventually paid Johnson back in order to take control of the team, but Johnson continued to hold $50,000 worth of stock in the club.

Lannin kept the Sox for one more season, then sold it to Frazee and his business partner Hugh Ward.  The deal marked the first time in the history of the American League that a team had been sold without Johnson’s knowledge or blessing, perhaps lending further evidence to Lannin’s dislike of the A.L. czar, and Frazee instantly became Johnson’s chief nemesis.  After two years of battling back and forth in the board room and the papers, things finally came to a head in 1919 when Frazee sold Carl Mays to the New York Yankees for $40,000 and pitchers Allen Russell and Bob McGraw.  Mays, tired of pitching in front of teammates who couldn’t stand him and played poorly with him on the mound, left the Red Sox in the middle of a game and swore he’d never pitch for them again.  Johnson waited for Frazee to discipline Mays, but the Red Sox magnate took advantage of the multitude of offers he was receiving for the recalcitrant hurler, and sent him to the Yankees instead.

Johnson was furious and vetoed the trade, then suspended Mays himself.  But Yankee owners Jacob Ruppert and Cap Huston filed an injunction against Johnson, claiming that his ruling was injurious to their team, and that his stockholdings in the Indians created a conflict of interest and motivated him to block the Yankees’ acquisition of Mays.  A judge ruled in the Yankees’ favor on August 6 and Mays made his Yankees debut the next day and beat the St. Louis Browns, 8-2.

Eventually the Mays case went to court.  During testimony, Johnson admitted that he owned $58,500 worth of stock in the Indians, the original $50,000 and an additional $8,500 that he had recently loaned Dunn.  Then on September 11, 1919, Johnson confessed what everyone already knew despite multiple denials to the contrary, that he did, in fact, provide the money McAleer and McRoy needed to buy half interest in the Red Sox in 1911.

After his dismissal from the Red Sox, Jake Stahl went back to banking and became vice-president of Washington Park National Bank in Chicago.  In 1917, he went off to fight in World War I, serving as a Second Lieutenant in the Army before returning to Washington Park to serve as president.  He died of tuberculosis in 1922 at the age of 43.

As for James McAleer, Johnson’s unwillingness to support him in the wake of Stahl’s firing caused a rift between the men that was never repaired.  According to Frank B. Ward, a sports reporter with the Youngstown Daily Vindicator, McAleer felt Johnson’s actions constituted a betrayal of trust and friendship, and that Johnson confided in McAleer that he owed Jake Stahl’s father-in-law money and felt obligated to side with Stahl.

McAleer left baseball for good after he was forced out by Johnson and went back to his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio.  He was diagnosed with cancer in 1930 or ’31, and on April 28, 1931 he shot himself in the head and died the next day.  At the time of his death, it was reported that he’d died from his illness following an operation, but the New York Times reported on May 20, 1931 that Coroner M.E. Hayes concluded that McAleer died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  He was 66 years old and, ironically, followed Ban Johnson’s death by only a month.

A version of the above is scheduled to appear in a book about the 1912 Red Sox written by SABR members and edited by Bill Nowlin.


One Response to “A Question of Ownership”
  1. Mom says:

    AWESOME writing Michael……….Like always, you capture everyones interest when it comes to writing about the Bahston Red Sox!!

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