MLB player to owner: There’s a history to A-Rod’s idea

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Former baseball player Alex Rodriguez looks on before Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Former baseball player Alex Rodriguez looks on before Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) /

Clark Griffith

Clark Griffith may not have been the most successful MLB player-turned-owner, but until Jeter’s purchase of the Marlins, he was very likely the best player to become an owner.

Coming up as a 21-year-old pitcher with the Association’s St. Louis club in 1891, Griffith migrated to Chicago in 1893 and became a star. Between 1894 and 1899 he averaged 23 victories against 16 defeats, eventually compiling a 237-146 record.

When the American League was founded, Griffith was one of the early “jumpers” – National League stars whose defection gave the new AL credibility. He went 24-7 for Comiskey’s White Sox in 1901 and led them to the inaugural pennant. He also managed the Sox in 1901 and 1902.

By then Griffith had set his sights on management and ownership. Appointed manager of the New York American League team in 1903, he was released in mid-season 1908, hired by Cincinnati in 1909, fired in 1911 and hired by the Senators in 1912.

Griffith managed to wrangle a small ownership stake out of the deal, gradually increasing control to full ownership by 1920, his last active season as an on-field manager. In 1924, Griffith’s Senators won their first American League pennant and beat the Giants in a dramatic seven-game World Series.

They repeated in 1925, this time losing the World Series to the Pirates in seven games and made their third and final visit to the World Series in 1933.

Griffith maintained ownership of the Senators until his death following the 1955 season. His death marked the end of the era of player-owners until Jeter revived it 62 years later.