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Charles Stoneham

Sport: Baseball

Born: July 5, 1876

Died: January 6, 1936

Town: Jersey City

Charles Abraham Stoneham was born July 5, 1876 in Jersey City to Mary and Bartholomew Stoneham, a bookkeeper. Young Charles was nimble with numbers, too and as a teenager found employment with a stockbroker in his late teens. Thanks to shrewd thinking and a moral compass that didn’t always point to true north, he rose quickly in the business world and founded his own New York City brokerage in the early 1900s, specializing in fringe stocks that often did not trade on established exchanges.

Nevertheless, Stoneham & Co. established branch offices in several major East Coast cities. Charles’s taste for risk also extended to gambling and sports betting. He owned a racetrack and a casino n Havana.

In 1919, Charles headed a group that purchased the New York Giants baseball team. The man that brokered the deal, Arnold Rothstein, would later be accused of fixing the World Series that fall. It was a shady time in the world of baseball. Charles made manager John McGraw (another Rothstein associate) an ownership partner and green-lit the contracts of the stars who made the team a National League powerhouse in the early 1920s, winning the pennant each year between in 1921 and 1924.

Charles became embroiled in multiple lawsuits related to his financial dealings at this time. Though he was able to beat federal charges, he faced an endless string of civil suits from defrauded investors that prompted him to cut his player budget and rent out the Polo Grounds to a number of outside events—including football and soccer games. In 1927, he purchased a club in the American Soccer League and named it the New York Nationals. They won the U.S. championship in 1928, defeating Chicago in the National Challenge Cup. An ill-conceived conflict with the sport’s governing body ended up crippling soccer in America for a generation.

By the mid-1930s, the Giants were playing championship ball again. By then, however, Charles and John McGraw were out of the picture. McGraw was dead from stomach cancer and Charles, suffering from kidney disease, had handed the reins of the Giants over to his son, Horace. Charles passed away from Bright’s disease at the age of 59 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was buried in Jersey City.

After his death, it came to light that Charles—who was an unrepentant playboy his entire adult life—had a “second family” in Westchester. They made no claim on the Giants, which passed through his will to his New Jersey family.

 

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