Former jobs of every MLB owner

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May 19, 2020
Denis Poroy // Getty Images

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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Norm Hall // Getty Images

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.

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Karl Gehring/The Denver Post // Getty Images

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.

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Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post // Getty Images

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.

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Jim Davis/The Boston Globe // Getty Images

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.

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Quinn Harris // Getty Images

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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Nuccio DiNuzzo // Getty Images

Chicago White Sox: Jerry Reinsdorf

- Year acquired: 1981

Jerry Reinsdorf built a small fortune through real estate. He led an ownership group that purchased the White Sox, and later bought the Chicago Bulls in 1985. As an owner, Reinsdorf was influential in popularizing revenue-sharing in baseball.

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Joe Robbins // Getty Images

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.

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Vaughn Ridley // Getty Images

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.]

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Andy Cross/The Denver Post // Getty Images

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.

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Dave Reginek/NHLI // Getty Images

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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Michael Reaves // Getty Images

Houston Astros: Jim Crane

- Year acquired: 2011

When Jim Crane purchased the Astros with a group, he was owner of several businesses, including Crane Worldwide Logistics (CWL), which provides “customized transportation and logistics services,” according to Crane played college baseball at Central Missouri State University, and bought the Astros alongside George Postolos, who had led the NBA’s Houston Rockets. The Astros won the 2017 World Series, but that title has come under scrutiny for the team’s alleged use of sign stealing that season.

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Dilip Vishwanat // Getty Images

Kansas City Royals: John Sherman

- Year acquired: 2019

John Sherman is the newest member of the MLB owners club, paying about $1 billion for the Royals. Sherman was working as vice chairman of the Cleveland Indians, and founded Inergy, a leading propane supplier.

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Joe Scarnici // Getty Images

Los Angeles Angels: Arturo Moreno

- Year acquired: 2003

The son of Mexican immigrants, Arturo Moreno lived out the American Dream when he purchased the Angels from Disney. Moreno is the first Hispanic or minority to own a controlling interest in an MLB team, and was founder of a lucrative outdoor advertising company. Moreno has not been shy to spend big money, signing Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani, and giving Mike Trout the largest contract extension in league history.

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation // Getty Images

Los Angeles Dodgers: Mark Walter

- Year acquired: 2012

Mark Walter is the chief executive officer of Guggenheim Partners financial services firm. While Walter is the Dodgers’ controlling owner, his previous partners included Magic Johnson. This decade, the Dodgers have been one of baseball’s most-successful teams, making the playoffs for the last seven years, although they have not won a World Series during that span (losing in both 2017 and 2018).

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Mark Brown // Getty Images

Miami Marlins: Bruce Sherman

- Year acquired: 2018

Like Mark Walter, Marlins owner Bruce Sherman has been overshadowed by a more popular name in his ownership group. Derek Jeter is recognized as a Marlins owner, but it’s Sherman who provided a bulk of the financing for the purchase of the club. Sherman built his wealth through a wealth management firm, and invested in several newspaper companies before baseball.

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Dylan Buell // Getty Images

Milwaukee Brewers: Mark Attanasio

- Year acquired: 2005

Mark Attanasio has drastically increased the value of the Brewers, who were previously owned by former MLB commissioner Bud Selig. Attanasio founded investment firm Crescent Capital Group, and has seen the Brewers make the playoffs the last two seasons.

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Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins // Getty Images

Minnesota Twins: Jim Pohlad

- Year acquired: 1984

Jim Pohlad took over the Twins from his father, Carl Pohlad, who built his fortune in banking, soft drink bottling, and a few other companies. The family has owned the team since 1984, but Jim Pohlad officially took over his current position in 2009, after Carl died. Under the Pohlads, the Twins have won two World Series championships.

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Elsa // Getty Images

New York Mets: Fred Wilpon

- Year acquired: 2002

Few MLB owners are as well known as Fred Wilpon, although not always for the most glowing of reasons. Under Wilpon’s leadership, the team made the 2015 World Series, but also became embroiled in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Recently, Wilpon looked ready to sell the team to hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, but the deal fell through, much to the chagrin of Mets fans.

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Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos // Getty Images

New York Yankees: Hal Steinbrenner

- Year acquired: 1973

Upon request by George Steinbrenner, MLB owners voted that son Hal Steinbrenner would take over control of the team in 2008. George Steinbrenner owned the team since 1973, having built up a fortune in the shipping industry; he died in 2010. Under the Steinbrenners, the Yankees have won seven World Series rings.

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Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics // Getty Images

Oakland Athletics: John J. Fisher

- Year acquired: 2005

John J. Fisher’s parents founded Gap Inc., which owns several well-known clothing store chains. In addition to owning the A’s, Fisher has investments in soccer clubs, and one of his first jobs was working as a fundraiser for President Ronald Reagan.

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Gilbert Carrasquillo // Getty Images

Philadelphia Phillies: John S. Middleton

- Year acquired: 1981

John S. Middleton comes from a long line of tobacco money, as his family started with a tobacco shop in Philadelphia in 1856. Former Phillies owner Ruly Carpenter rued the rising salaries of baseball players and sold the team to a partnership group led by William Y. Giles, who later brought in the Middletons.

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Justin K. Aller // Getty Images

Pittsburgh Pirates: Robert Nutting

- Year acquired: 1996

Robert Nutting is CEO of Ogden Newspapers, and grew up not far from Pittsburgh across the border in West Virginia. In the mid-1990s, Nutting’s father was part of a group that bought the Pirates, and Robert became principal owner in 2007. Last year, the Pirates were valued at $1.275 billion and Nutting helped oversee the creation of PNC Park, often considered one of baseball’s best stadiums.

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Denis Poroy // Getty Images

San Diego Padres: Ron Fowler

- Year acquired: 2012

Ron Fowler began his career at a brewing company in Minnesota, became a powerful beverage distributor, and formed Liquid Investments, Inc. Fowler’s original partners in taking control of the Padres included members of the O’Malley family, which previously owned the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Jamie Squire // Getty Images

San Francisco Giants: Charlie Johnson

- Year acquired: 1992

For much of his time leading the Giants, Charlie Johnson has kept a low profile. Johnson is the co-founder of mutual fund and investment company Franklin Resources, and he started out with a small stake in the team as investors tried to keep the Giants from moving to Tampa Bay. But as Johnson’s political donations have gained more of a spotlight in recent years, some fans have called for a boycott of the team.

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Abbie Parr // Getty Images

Seattle Mariners: John W. Stanton

- Year acquired: 1992

John W. Stanton has slowly increased his power in the Mariners organization, beginning as a minority owner and taking over day-to-day operations in 2016. Stanton seasoned his business chops leading VoiceStream (a T-Mobile predecessor) and an equity partner firm. Nintendo of America was the previous controlling owner.

[Pictured: T-Mobile President and CEO Mike Sievert (L) and John Stanton cut the ribbon to officially open T-Mobile Park during their Opening Day game at T-Mobile Park on March 29, 2019 in Seattle, Washington.]

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Leon Halip // Getty Images

St. Louis Cardinals: William DeWitt, Jr.

- Year acquired: 1995

Before owning the St. Louis Cardinals, William DeWitt Jr. helped found an investment firm that owns numerous Arby’s franchises, among other holdings. DeWitt had stakes in other MLB teams before buying the Cardinals from Anheuser-Busch.

[Pictured: Former St. Louis Cardinals player Fred "Red" Schoendienst #2 talks with William O. DeWitt Jr. and Sr. Vice President and General Manager John Mozeliak.]

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Brian Blanco // Getty Images

Tampa Bay Rays: Stuart Sternberg

- Year acquired: 2005

Stuart Sternberg came from the financial securities industry, and was a managing director at Goldman Sachs. Recently, the Rays have overachieved despite a small payroll, but the team continually battles rumors of relocation. Sternberg bought the Rays from original owner Vince Naimoli.

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Rick Yeatts // Getty Images

Texas Rangers: Ray Davis

- Year acquired: 2010

Ray Davis came into the Rangers organization with a group that included Nolan Ryan; Davis previously worked in the energy industry. Davis purchased the team from Tom Hicks, who bought the Rangers from investors that included George W. Bush. The Rangers will open a new ballpark once the next baseball season begins.

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Patrick McDermott // Getty Images

Washington Nationals: Ted Lerner (Lerner Enterprises)

- Year acquired: 2006

Ted Lerner helped bring baseball back to Washington, when the former Montreal Expos relocated to the nation’s capital. Lerner’s wealth came from real estate holdings, including Chelsea Piers in New York. Last season, the Nationals won their first World Series.

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