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  • Crisconi Group owns the Athletics

    Assuming that Roy Mack doesn't renege on his deal, John Crisconi and his partners take control of the team for the 1955 season. How long does anyone reckon they stay in Philly before they either have to move or eventually sell the team?

  • #2
    I would need to know more about Crisconi and his group. Were they native Philadelphians? Was this a business deal only, or did they have an emotional attachment to the city and or the team? I would think even with the sorry shape the Philadelphia Athletics were in, the Phillies were probably the best candidate in the 3 "non traditional 2 team cities" to be run out of town by the other team, even moreso than the Browns or the Braves were, yet they survived.

    I would think a big influx of cash into the A's plus the fact that they owned Connie Mack Stadium (Shibe Park) would have allowed them to prevail had they chosen to fight hard. It would have given them a chance at least, I know the Phillies had the Carpenters money on their side, working for them.

    In Cleveland we benefitted for many years by having local and very civic minded owners (Stouffer, Mileti, Steve O'Neill ) that never would have moved the team or sold it to be moved. Of course we didn't have another competing team in town either.

    Can you fill us in on Crisconi and Company? It all depends on what their state of mind (and amount of bank) was regarding city, team and most importantly, specific team IN specific city.

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    • #3
      John Crisconi was a Philadelphia auto dealer who gathered a group of Philadelphia businessmen who were able to match Arnold Johnson's offer to buy the team. The Macks agreed to the sale and the contracts were signed, so all that was needed was the approval of the AL owners. All that was needed was a majority 5-3 vote. As it was, the vote turned out 4-4, with Roy Mack casting a no vote as he flip-flopped back towards Johnson. For a detailed background of the proceedings check out this link http://sabr.org/research/departure-w...e-philadelphia.

      This syndicate, depending on overall finances, most likely had the intention of keeping the team in Philly. But whether they had the cash flow to compete with the Carpenter-owned Phillies creates the what-if scenario. They would need to build the A's attendance back up as a first priority to maintain any kind of competitive balance, and the only way to do that would be to win. The A's farm system was at best negligible due to years of neglect because of no funds. Also, even without the Macks the American league would rather not be in Philly because they realized the city was not big enough to be a two-team town. Whether the population would renew their interest in the team was another factor.

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      • #4
        I read the article at the link you posted and was fascinated. I never knew all that behind the scenes info with the 2 factions of the Mack family, the Shibe-MacFarlands, Johnson and Crisconi before.
        ,
        After reading the article and realizing the financial depths and attendance indifference that the Athletics were suffering, and knowing of the Carpenter's money and what they had been spending on the Phillies for several seasons (at that time), I feel like Philadelphians of that time probably thought the Phillies were on the rise and positioned to become a force. The Athletics appear to have been perceived as totally beyond redemption at that time. It seems that the people simply did not care about them anymore. They thought Mack was too old and hung on too long.

        I think another huge problem would have been on the horizon for the A's (as it wound up coming for the Phillies) in that Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium was too old, had no parking, and was in a steeply declining neighborhood. I think this would have spelled death for the A's more so than it would have for the Phillies unless the Crisconi group was prepared to pump in just torrents of cash.

        I would have preferred to see Roy Mack sell to Crisconi because I don't think the Johnson purchase served anyone's best interests (besides those of Kansas City, MO.) except Roy Mack's. But absent a lot of really smart hires on the baseball side of operations, and a lot of fresh new cash to support that front office talent, it looks to me that the A's wouldn't have made it and would have wound up being sold out of town soon, perhaps to a different city just a few years later, or maybe even to Charlie Finley sometime in the late 50's when he was shopping for a team. (It would have been ironic if Finley bought the PHILADELPHIA A's in about 1961, when he bought the Kansas City A's anyway, that year from Johnson's estate.)

        Thanks very much for the link, I thought the article was Great and very informative and interesting. Never knew very much of that story behind the sale of the Philadelphia Athletics before.


        EDIT: I have changed my mind after reading the article. I think the A's may have been in the weakest position in the 3 cities with 2 teams that went down to one. Lou Perini had money in Boston, but Tom Yawkey had more and the better ballpark for the Red Sox in Fenway Park. Braves Field was hard by the noisy and smoky train tracks from what I have read. St Louis had Bill Veeck of the Browns opposing Fred Saigh of the Cardinals and the Browns owned Sportsmans Park. Promoter/Showman extraordinaire Veeck thought that battle was very winnable until Saigh lost the team to brewery magnate and big money man August Busch. The A's had no money and Carpenter had plenty of it to spend on the Phillies.

        It's odd that the two teams that owned shared ballparks, the Browns at Sportsmans Park and the A's with Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium didn't do more to leverage their landlord positions and force or at least pressure their tenants to move along or out, or at the very least to extract market or market+ rental rates from the Cardinals and the Phillies. I have never understood that.
        Last edited by Calif_Eagle; 08-12-2017, 12:56 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Calif_Eagle View Post
          It's odd that the two teams that owned shared ballparks, the Browns at Sportsmans Park and the A's with Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium didn't do more to leverage their landlord positions and force or at least pressure their tenants to move along or out, or at the very least to extract market or market+ rental rates from the Cardinals and the Phillies. I have never understood that.
          The Cardinals success had to have been making the Browns a small profit. The Browns throughout most of their history in St. Louis were always in bad shape financially, so why jeopardize the revenue from the Cardinals, no matter how small, by making demands or evicting them?

          As for Philadelphia, how could Connie Mack command premium rental rates from the perennially cash strapped Philies in 1938 when the Phils moved in? At least twice, the National League had to loan the Phillies money in order to meet payroll in the 1930's and the Phillies would almost always sell players the minute they began to emerge. Nonetheless, it was a win-win situation for the miserly Mack since he could collect money, no matter how minuscule, from the Phillies. And it was a good arrangement for the Phillies, as Mack was responsible for the upkeep of the park and the Phillies got to pocket and save some money. Ten years later, the tables were turned. The Phillies were generating the revenue for Shibe Park, not the A's. Thus, the Mack family was not in power to demand more concessions from Carpenter. Perhaps the Macks feared if they attempted to revise the lease with the Phillies, Carpenter would just build a new stadium for his team.

          This is all just conjecture on my part regarding the St. Louis and Philadelphia situations. I would love to read those leases or agreements.



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          • #6
            Originally posted by Steve Jeltz View Post

            The Cardinals success had to have been making the Browns a small profit. The Browns throughout most of their history in St. Louis were always in bad shape financially, so why jeopardize the revenue from the Cardinals, no matter how small, by making demands or evicting them?

            As for Philadelphia, how could Connie Mack command premium rental rates from the perennially cash strapped Philies in 1938 when the Phils moved in? At least twice, the National League had to loan the Phillies money in order to meet payroll in the 1930's and the Phillies would almost always sell players the minute they began to emerge. Nonetheless, it was a win-win situation for the miserly Mack since he could collect money, no matter how minuscule, from the Phillies. And it was a good arrangement for the Phillies, as Mack was responsible for the upkeep of the park and the Phillies got to pocket and save some money. Ten years later, the tables were turned. The Phillies were generating the revenue for Shibe Park, not the A's. Thus, the Mack family was not in power to demand more concessions from Carpenter. Perhaps the Macks feared if they attempted to revise the lease with the Phillies, Carpenter would just build a new stadium for his team.

            This is all just conjecture on my part regarding the St. Louis and Philadelphia situations. I would love to read those leases or agreements.

            My idea to play hardball with the landlord role is less about the money, as it is to force the competing team into either a very large expenditure for a new ballpark in the city (St Louis &/or Philadelphia), but the real main idea is to force the two competing teams to leave town and go elsewhere. I think the Mack-Shibe combine could have easily forced the pathetic Phillies of 1938 (when they left Baker Bowl) to either stay there, (it stood till 1950) or else to be sold out of town. We could have seen the "Milwaukee Miracle" scenario of 1953 in 1939, possibly, although the Braves were on the upswing on the field, and the Phillies were decidedly not.

            Had that happened, the A's would probably still be in Philadelphia today. But Mack seemed to want the income, and maybe he didn't foresee a day when the Phillies weren't always terrible and the "second cousin" to the A's. Had he foreseen Bob Carpenter's purchase of the Phillies he might not have been so quick to open the doors of Shibe Park to the Phillies. The article indicates the A's received 10 cents for each paid admission to the park. (Concessions IDK about.) With the way the Phillies were probably drawing pre-Carpenter, that couldn't have been all that much money.

            As for the Browns, for years Cardinals owner Sam Breadon had been assembling a new ballpark fund and he reached a point where if he didn't use it, it would become taxable. Somewhere along the way he decided to sell the Cardinals and I think he used some accounting maneuver to secure that "ballpark" fund for himself as part of the sale. (I don't recall but will check and edit here [SEE BELOW].) I believe the Browns had been offering a lower than market rental rate to the much more successful Cardinals, which means (to me) they were playing with fire, subsidizing their more powerful and successful rival and risking that THEY be the team eventually forced from their home (which is what finally happened.)

            I think the Macks and Bill Veeck (or Phil Ball or Richard Muckerman or Bill DeWitt) should have played hardball on this issue, but they didn't. Maybe a logical case (probably revenue based) can be made as to why they chose not to.

            ================================================== ================================================== =====

            EDIT: From Wikipedia re: Sam Breadon's "ballpark" fund:

            "For his entire tenure as owner, the Cardinals played in Sportsman's Park as tenants of the American League's St. Louis Browns. By the 1940s, Breadon chafed at this arrangement, since the Cardinals had long since passed the Browns as St. Louis' favorite baseball team. He set aside $5 million to build a new park, but was unable to find any land. By November 1947, he was facing the prospect of having to pay taxes on his fund unless he started construction on a park. When tax attorney Fred Saigh learned of this, he persuaded Breadon—who by this time was terminally ill from prostate cancer—to sell the Cardinals to him, under the pretense of avoiding the potentially hefty tax bill. To ease Breadon's nerves, Saigh took on another prominent St. Louisan, former Postmaster General Robert Hannegan, as a minority partner. Satisfied, Breadon sold the Cardinals to Saigh and Hannegan for $3 million.[6]

            Breadon died in St. Louis 18 months later at the age of 72. As it turned out, the ballpark fund nearly forced the Cardinals out of town. When the tax dodge that made the purchase possible came to light, Saigh—who by this time was sole owner—was forced to put the Cardinals on the market. Just as it appeared they were moving to Houston, Texas, Anheuser-Busch and its president, Gussie Busch, stepped in to buy the team in 1953 and keep it in St. Louis."


            Fred Saigh would end up in prison for this ^ maneuver. As I recall the top tax bracket in the 1950's for the wealthy was about 90% (!!!) which means maybe Breadon didn't actually get the money, it may have stayed in the Cardinal treasury. Breadon wanted to avoid 4.5 million + in taxes and Saigh was the one caught with this bill and the associated tax evasion conviction. Click the "Fred Saigh" link and there is even more detailed info about all this at his own Wikipedia page. - Calif_Eagle
            Last edited by Calif_Eagle; 08-13-2017, 01:20 PM.

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            • #7
              I agree that Crisconi and company probably would have come to realize they were flogging a dead horse (at least in Philly) and would have to either sell, move or both. Interesting scenario might arise where Arnold Johnson still ends up buying and moving the franchise to Kansas City, albeit maybe three or four years later, and actually only runs the team for a year or two before his death in 1960. Charlie Finley still could end up with the team and the scenario remains the same as in OTL. Or, the Crisconi group sells to another buyer, someone like Gene Autry who takes them to Los Angeles a couple of years earlier, or any number of buyers from the proposed Continental League (Toronto, Minneapolis St. Paul, Denver, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth).

              Comment


              • #8
                I wondered if Connie Mack was aware of Bob Carpenter Sr.'s interest in buying a team for his son? Mack and Bob Carpenter Jr were owners of the Wilmington, DE minor league team before Senior purchased the Phillies. If Mack had known, maybe Carpenter could have come on as a majority owner as the A's were still the number one baseball team of Philadelphia in 1942. With that DuPont money, the A's could have started a proper rebuild that could have culminated in another pennant by the late 40's or early 50's. Of course, this scenario assumes the Phillies are still the eyesore of baseball and Mack being willing to cede some of his responsibilities, which is highly doubtful.

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                • #9
                  As it turned out, of course, the Phillies didn't move out of Shibe until 1970, so while in retrospect the ballpark problem was "serious," it was not "critical" in the sense a new park had to be built immediately. But obviously there were lots of reasons to do so.

                  But like all the "inferior partners" in the multi-team cities in the early 1950s, the A's would have had to been bought out by a juggernaut corporation to stay viable in Philly. With all the virgin territories out waiting to be snapped up by MLB, the struggling second teams were just itching to jump.

                  You had the Midwestern combo of Milwaukee and Minneapolis, Kansas City and Dallas in "cowboy country," the possible Southern tandem of Houston and Atlanta, and of course the glittering shores of California. Something was bound to break loose.

                  If the dominos had fallen just a bit differently, today's MLB map could be massively different -- had Veeck's evil scheme in St. Louis panned out and the Cards jumped to Houston, I'd guess another NL team would have bolted into either KC or Atlanta (to form a southern/western travel tier).

                  Actually, if the A's had been bought by a big(ger) corporation and staying in Philly was more of an option, I think they might have looked into building a stadium over on the Camden side and hoping to draw some of the population base not only from NJ but even down in Delaware only 20 miles away. Shibe Park was in northern Philly away from major freeway access. In 1910 when it was built it was readily accessible by streetcar, but when cars became the major transport mode Shibe was kind of off in the boonies.

                  Had all this shuffling taken place, I suppose the city fathers in NYC i.e. Robert Moses would have taken the threats of the Dodgers and Giants to move out of town more seriously and pushed more urgently to get a stadium done. That might have saved one of the teams but my guess is the Giants probably would have ended up in Minneapolis anyway.

                  With California still looming as the promised land, my guess is about 1960 there would have been expansion and/or a third league, as we ended up seeing in real life. The elevation of the PCL to major league status would have looked a lot more practical.

                  Ahhh, Star Trek time travel stories. What if you go back in time and prevent your grandparents' marriage? What then!?!?
                  Last edited by StarStar00; 10-06-2017, 06:18 PM.

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