|Vernon B. Stouffer|
|Born||August 22, 1901|
|Died||July 26, 1974(aged 72)|
|Alma mater||The Wharton School|
|Known for||Pioneer of frozen food industry and owner of the Cleveland Indians|
Vernon B. Stouffer, (22 August 1901 – 26 July 1974) owned a national chain of restaurants, motor inns, and food-service operations and the Cleveland Indians from 1966-72. He played a key part in developing frozen foods and microwavable foods. His company Stouffer's was valued at $21.5 million when it was merged with Litton Industries in a stock for stock trade in 1967. Vernon Stouffer pioneered the frozen food industry. Stouffer graduated from The Wharton School in 1923.
Stouffer was also the owner of the baseball team, the Cleveland Indians. He first got involved as an investor in the team that was not doing so well in 1964 when it appeared that the team might move to Seattle, hopeful that he could help keep the team in Cleveland. In 1966 he bought 80 percent of the team for $8M, borrowing $2.5M. He retained Gabe Paul as president and hired Hank Peters to run the minor league farm system. Stouffer's deep pockets became depleted when Litton's stock lost over half of its value in early 1968 and Stouffer had trouble paying back the note due to the Indians' poor on field performance and accompanying low attendance. Stouffer was forced to cut the team's player development budget severely, which hampered the team's performance for years to come, over Peters' and Paul's objections. In 1968 Stouffer made what turned out to be another poor decision, vesting field manager Alvin Dark with the additional duties of general manager, which turned out to be an unworkable situation. By 1970 the Indians were still losing money and were attracting attention from other cities seeking teams, including Dallas and New Orleans. Stouffer negotiated a deal to sell twenty-five percent of the team to New Orleans' investors for $2.5M and to have the Indians play 30 home games per year in the Superdome starting in 1974, however, the American League rejected the arrangement. In 1971 Stouffer rejected an offer of $8.6M for the team from a group headed by George Steinbrenner, believing it to be a lowball offer since New Orleans' previous offer was greater, percentage-wise. Stouffer sold the team in 1972 to a group headed by Nick Mileti for $10M.
The book "Portrait of a Franchise: An Intimate Look at Cleveland Indians Baseball During the Rockin' Sixties" by Doug Kurkul includes a full chapter describing Stouffer's career, his philanthropic impact on Northeast Ohio, and his ownership of the Indians.
Stouffer married Gertrude Dean in 1928 and had three children, Marjorie, Deanette, and James. He is buried in Lakewood Park Cemetery in Rocky River, Ohio.
- Encyclopedia of Cleveland History retrieved December 15, 2007
- "He Changed How America Ate", Wharton Alumni Magazine retrieved December 15, 2007
William R. Daley
|Owner of the Cleveland Indians
1966 — 1972