David Samson (baseball)
February 26, 1968 |
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
David Samson is the President of the Miami Marlins, a Major League Baseball team located in Miami, Florida. He has held the position since 2002. He previously held the title of Executive Vice President with the Montreal Expos from 1999 to 2002, working in both cities under team owner and former stepfather Jeffrey Loria. Samson was also a contestant on the reality TV program Survivor: Cagayan in 2014, where he was the first person voted out.
As President of the Marlins, he played a key role in the negotiations to secure a public/private partnership to build a retractable roof ballpark, which opened on April 4, 2012. The ballpark assures the Club’s long-term future in South Florida. Along with Loria, he was also one of the driving forces behind the subsequent rebranding of the franchise following the 2011 season. The rebranding, which was revealed to the public on November 11, 2011, included the changing of the Club’s name to the Miami Marlins, as well as changes to the team's logo and uniforms.
The public perception of Samson has been shaped by more than just his success in securing a new ballpark, however. Several controversies have surrounded his tenure in baseball, both in Montreal and South Florida. The controversies have swirled around major lawsuits in response to his business dealings on behalf of the Expos and Marlins, as well as his outspoken and unfiltered nature, especially in dealings with the media.
- 1 Early life, education, and family
- 2 Career
- 3 Achievements
- 4 Non-baseball appearances
- 5 References
Early life, education, and family
Samson was born to Allen and Sivia Samson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 26, 1968. He was the couples’ second child, following older sister Nancy. Allen and Sivia divorced not long after Samson’s birth, and his mother moved with her two children to New York City in 1976. Samson also has half siblings, sisters Rachel and Samantha and a brother, Daniel, from his parents’ subsequent marriages.
Upon moving to New York City, Samson was enrolled at the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, where he completed grades 1-12. Following high school, he attended Tufts University in Somerville, Massachusetts for one year before transferring to the University of Wisconsin–Madison for his sophomore year. He graduated from Wisconsin in 1990 with a BA in Economics and a minor in Philosophy. Samson attended law school at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law beginning in 1990 and received his juris doctorate in 1993.
Samson and his wife, Cindi, were married in 1990 and have three children: Hannah (19), Kyra (16), and Caleb (11).
Following his graduation from law school, Samson founded News Travels Fast in 1993, the first company to deliver The New York Times, and later Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal, to Europe on a same-day basis. The rise of internet sites that provided news delivery would eventually bring an end to the endeavor in 1996.
Montreal Expos (1999–2002)
Samson was named executive vice president of the Montreal Expos in December 1999, shortly after his then-stepfather, Jeffrey Loria, purchased the ownership stake of Claude Brochu and became chairman, CEO and managing general partner on December 9.
The tenure of Loria and Samson in Montreal would be brief, however. Samson played a key role in negotiating the sale of the Expos and the subsequent purchase of the Miami Marlins in 2002. In a complex franchise swap that reshaped the landscape of baseball in four American and National League Eastern Division cities, Loria sold the Expos to a Delaware partnership, Expos Baseball, LP. The partnership had been formed by a vote of the Major League Baseball owners so that Loria would be free to purchase the Marlins from John W. Henry, who needed to sell the South Florida Club in order to complete his purchase of the Boston Red Sox. The Expos would later be moved to Washington, D.C. by Major League Baseball.
RICO lawsuit following the sale of the Expos
An early controversy of Samson’s baseball career came in July 2002, when he was one of several defendants named in a federal complaint filed in Miami under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The complaint was filed by 14 former minority partners of the Expos against Loria, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, MLB Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy, the commissioner’s office and Samson.
The suit alleged that Selig, Loria, and Samson conspired for more than two years to eliminate the Montreal franchise and move it to the United States, and that Selig had conducted mail fraud and wire fraud in the process.
The complaint further accused Loria and Samson of conspiring with baseball officials to dilute the minority partners’ share of the team from 76 percent to 6-to-7 percent and of never intending to keep the franchise in Montreal.
In response to the allegations, Loria and Samson argued that the partners’ share was decreased because the partners refused to put up additional money that was requested by Loria in cash calls that were permitted by the partnership agreement. Loria also accused the former minority partners of hypocrisy, claiming they had been unwilling to fund any operating losses since 1991 and had directed fire sales of players during the 1990s.
The case against Loria, Samson and MLB essentially ended on November 15, 2004, when a three-judge arbitration panel in New York ruled unanimously that there was no fraud or breach of fiduciary duties committed by Loria and Samson. As a result of the binding ruling, the limited partners dropped their bid for an injunction against the relocation of the Expos and eventually declined to pursue the federal RICO suit.
Purchase of the Marlins and a World Series championship
After Samson led negotiations for Loria’s $158.5 million purchase of the Marlins on February 16, 2002, which was approved by MLB owners on February 12, the Club moved nearly 50 employees from the Expos organization to the Marlins.
After a 79-83 season in 2002 in which the Club finished fourth in the NL East, the Marlins made several key additions to the squad in 2003, highlighted by the signing of Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and the re-acquisition of Jeff Conine, and surprised the baseball world by winning the second World Series in Club history.
During the regular season, the team improved its record by 12 games, finishing at 91-71 to earn the National League Wild Card berth. The team was fueled in 2003 by Jack McKeon, who became manager on May 11 and led the team to a 75-49 record for the rest of the regular season, the second-best mark in the Majors over that span. In addition, outfielder Juan Pierre, catcher Ivan Rodriguez and reliever Ugueth Urbina, and rookie call-ups Miguel Cabrera, an outfielder at the time, and Dontrelle Willis, a starting pitcher, all helped the Marlins in their record run.
The 2003 postseason run began with a thrilling win over the Giants in the Divisional round. The series ended in game four on collision at home plate between San Francisco’s J.T. Snow and Rodriguez, who made the tag and held onto the ball for the final out of a 7-6 win. The Marlins went on to overcome a 3-2 deficit in the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, coming back from a 3-0 deficit in game six and a 5-3 deficit in game seven, both on the road, to reach the World Series.
The Marlins won the World Series as the NL Wild Card entrant for the second time, having been the first Wild Card team ever to win a title in 1997, and Samson is one of just eight current team presidents to preside over a World Series champion.
New Marlins Ballpark
The biggest challenge facing the long-term stability of the Marlins in 2002 was the Club’s inability to secure a baseball-only ballpark, with shelter from the extreme summer temperatures and precipitation patterns of the South Florida region. The first two owners of the Franchise, Wayne Huizenga and John W. Henry, respectively, had failed in their efforts to secure funding for such a facility.
Samson led a negotiating team that worked for more than six years to finalize a public/private partnership to build a new retractable roof, air-conditioned ballpark in Miami. Prior to final approval in March 2009, there had been many failed attempts to complete a deal. A new ballpark, originally slated to open in 2005, never came to fruition, due to lack of State funding. Several unsuccessful attempts to secure State funding from Tallahassee delayed the deal even further, as well as changes in potential sites. When the University of Miami Hurricanes left the old Orange Bowl to play its games elsewhere, the original Orange Bowl was demolished by the City of Miami, thereby creating a perfect site for the new ballpark. In March 2009, final approval of the public/private partnership was completed between the County of Miami-Dade, the City of Miami and the Marlins. Absent from the final deal was any participation by the State of Florida. As part of the deal, Jeffrey Loria agreed to pay approximately $161.2M of the estimated $515M price tag.
The new stadium funding was included in a $3 billion redevelopment plan by Miami-Dade County that also partly funded a tunnel into the Port of Miami, provided a major infusion of money for the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and funded urban redevelopment plans in Overtown and the Omni downtown district.
South Florida businessman Norman Braman filed a lawsuit in January 2008 alleging that the deal between the Marlins and the county to fund the new stadium was an illegal use of taxpayer money that was intended to combat urban blight, and should have been subject to a public vote. All seven counts of the lawsuit were eventually dismissed, the last on November 21, 2008 by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen.
Due to the nearly year-long delay caused by the Braman lawsuit, the original timeline for the construction of the stadium was delayed and the opening date was pushed back from the 2011 season to the 2012 season. The official groundbreaking ceremony was held on July 18, 2009, in front of 5,000 fans, and the ballpark hosted its first regular season game on April 4, 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Samson is an active member of philanthropic and business communities in South Florida. He has garnered several awards as a result of that work, and sits on several boards of directors in both South Florida and New York. Additionally, he is an avid athlete.
- Sports Business Journal 40-under-40 list (2003 and 2005)
- Book of Hope honoree for 2007 by the Crohn’s and Coltis Foundation, South Florida chapter
- Make-A-Wish Foundation Hall of Fame inductee (2011)
- Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Alumni of the Year (2010)
- Completed the Ford Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii on October 21, 2006; he is the only team president of a major U.S. sports franchise to have completed the Ironman Triathlon.
- Completed a 52.4 mile run on April 27th, 2012 to honor the workers who built the new ballpark; he raised over $550,000 to be split among 10 charities. 
- Boards of Directors
- Challenged Athletes Foundation (2008–present)
- Miami Foundation Board of Governors (2009–present)
- Cardozo Board of Overseers (2010–present)
- Miami Children’s Museum (2011–present)
- He co-wrote, with his cousin, Josh Samson, and performed in a play entitled “Do I Do” to benefit the New Theatre in Coral Gables on December 13, 2009.
- He was a contestant on Survivor: Cagayan, the 28th season of CBS reality show Survivor, where he was the first contestant voted out.
- He debuted in a full-length play "Not Ready for Primetime" as Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels in March, 2014.
- "Alleging fraud, former minority partners sue Selig, Loria". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. July 17, 2002. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- "Arbitration Ruling Effectively Ends Loria Rico Suit". Sports Business Daily. November 16, 2004. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- "How Miami got a new stadium". Myfoxtampabay.com. October 13, 2011. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- [dead link]
- "Ground broken for new Miami Ballpark". Florida.marlins.mlb.com. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
- Axisa, Mike (January 9, 2014). "Report: Marlins president David Samson to compete on 'Survivor'". CBS Sports. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
- "New Theatre’s scrappy ‘Not Ready for Primetime’ could use more laughs". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2014-03-31.