Larry MacPhail

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Larry MacPhail
Larry MacPhail.jpg
Born Leland Stanford MacPhail
(1890-02-03)February 3, 1890
Cass City, Michigan
Died October 1, 1975(1975-10-01) (aged 85)
Miami, Florida
Resting place
Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City
Education Beloit College, University of Michigan, George Washington University Law School
Occupation Lawyer, Department store executive,
Major League Baseball executive, Racehorse owner/breeder
Board member of
Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, Bowie Race Track
Spouse(s) 1) Inez Frances Thompson
2) Jean Bennett Wanamaker
Children Children with Inez:
Bill, Lee, Marian
Child with Jean:
daughter
Parents Curtis W. MacPhail

This article is about a former baseball executive. For the retired soccer player, see Larry McPhail

Leland Stanford "Larry" MacPhail, Sr. (February 3, 1890 – October 1, 1975) was an American lawyer and an executive and innovator in Major League Baseball (MLB). He served as an executive with several professional baseball teams, including the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees. MacPhail's sons and grandsons were also sports executives. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1978.

Early life[edit]

MacPhail was born in Cass City on February 3, 1890. His father founded State Savings Bank of Scottville, Michigan, in 1882 as well as twenty other small banks in that state. He obtained an LL.B. from the George Washington University Law School, where he became friends with Branch Rickey. He worked for a time with a Chicago law firm.[1] Prior to World War I Larry MacPhail was an executive of a department store in Nashville, Tennessee.

During World War I, he served as an artillery captain in France and Belgium. He accompanied his commander, Colonel Luke Lea, on an unsanctioned mission to Amerongen in the Netherlands in January 1919 to attempt to arrest the exiled German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, and bring him to the Paris Peace Conference to be tried for war crimes.

Entry into baseball[edit]

After his discharge from military service, MacPhail opened a law office in Columbus, Ohio, where he eventually purchased an interest in the Columbus Red Birds, a minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. That was short lived, but in 1933 he was hired by the Cincinnati Reds and became its chief executive and general manager. MacPhail had been recommended for the Reds position by Branch Rickey, who said that MacPhail was "a wild man at times, but he'll do the job."[2] After leaving the Reds, he spent about a year with his father's investment business before becoming president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938.[2]

MacPhail was pivotal in the development of pioneering sportscaster Red Barber, who announced Reds and Dodgers games for MacPhail. MacPhail's innovations include nighttime baseball, regular game televising and the flying of teams between games.MacPhail resiged as president of the Dudgers on September 23, 1942 to accept a commission in the United States Army. By the end of World War II, MacPhail held the rank of Colonel.[3] Returning from the war, MacPhail served as president, co-owner and general manager for the New York Yankees.

MacPhail was well known for his unpredictable behavior which was fueled by bouts of heavy drinking. MacPhail's grandson Andy said, "My grandfather was bombastic, flamboyant, a genius when sober, brilliant when he had one drink and a raving lunatic when he had too many."[4] In one incident, MacPhail was drinking with Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey when the men decided to swap stars Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams in what would have been the biggest swap of baseball stars in many years. The men decided not to execute the trade after they sobered up.[5]

Leo Durocher, the Dodgers manager who had a tempestuous relationship with MacPhail, recalled, "There is a thin line between genius and insanity, and in Larry's case, it was so thin you could see him drifting back and forth."[5] As the Dodgers returned by train to Grand Central Station after winning the 1941 league pennant, Durocher did not want his players to get off early at the 125th Street stop, so he ordered the conductor to pass the stop. MacPhail was planning to board the same train at that stop. He told Durocher that night that he was fired, but he changed his mind the next morning.[5]

MacPhail's career as a major-league owner ended after the Yankees clinched the 1947 World Series, when he got into confrontations at the team's post-game celebrations at Yankee Stadium and then in Manhattan. Though he had already quit as chief executive in the Yankee locker room, books by Roger Kahn and others indicate MacPhail's behavior at the victory parties led to co-owners Dan Topping and Del Webb buying out his share of the ballclub.[6]

Later life and legacy[edit]

MacPhail owned a 400-acre (1.6 km2) farm near Bel Air, Maryland called Glenangus.[7] An owner/breeder of Thoroughbred racehorses, his colt General Staff won the 1952 Narragansett Special at Narragansett Park and five other stake races that year. In March 1952, MacPhail was appointed President of Bowie Race Track in Bowie, Maryland. He held the position for thirteen months.[8]

MacPhail died in a Miami nursing home on October 1, 1975, two days after well-known manager Casey Stengel.[2] MacPhail was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1978.

Several of MacPhail's family members have become sports executives. His son Lee MacPhail was elected to the Hall in 1998, making them the only father and son inductees.[9] His other son Bill MacPhail was president of CBS Sports and later was President of CNN Sports, brought on by Reese Schonfeld to create the department upon the network's launch. Larry's grandson Andy MacPhail is the former general manager of the Minnesota Twins and Chicago Cubs and the former president of baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles. A great-grandson and namesake, Lee MacPhail IV, is a scout and special assistant to the general manager for the Seattle Mariners.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
n/a
Cincinnati Reds General Manager
1933–1937
Succeeded by
Warren Giles
Preceded by
Stephen McKeever
President of the Brooklyn Dodgers
1938–1942
Succeeded by
Branch Rickey
Preceded by
Ed Barrow
New York Yankees General Manager
1945–1947
Succeeded by
George Weiss
Preceded by
Ed Barrow
New York Yankees President
1945–1947
Succeeded by
Dan Topping
Preceded by
Jacob Ruppert Estate
Owner of the New York Yankees
with Dan Topping and Del Webb 1945–1947
Succeeded by
Dan Topping and Del Webb