Phillies history includes two banned owners

(Matt Slocum/AP file)
(Matt Slocum/AP file)
Posted: May 01, 2014

The Los Angeles Clippers, it turns out, have more in common with the Phillies than a history that is notable for failure.

The lifetime ban the NBA handed down to Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Tuesday, just days after his racist comments became public, might have been newsworthy but it was hardly unique.

Two Phillies owners suffered the same fate.

Horace Fogel was exiled from baseball in 1912, and 31 years later, so was William D. Cox. Both apparently were as incompetent as Sterling, though neither had nearly as much money.

Fogel was a hapless sportswriter whose crime against baseball, according to various accounts, was either acting illegally as a front for the family of President William Howard Taft or going off on a drunken rant during which he contended New York Giants games were fixed.

The way the first theory goes is that the Tafts, wealthy Cincinnatians who held a sizable interest in the Chicago Cubs, also wanted to purchase a controlling share in the Phillies.

National League rules prevented that kind of dual ownership, so the Tafts surreptitiously installed Fogel as their puppet.

The more widespread and logical explanation for Fogel's exile is that during a lengthy session at a Philadelphia bar, he told sportswriters the National League was out to get his Phillies. To do so, he contended, the league had conspired with its umpires to fix several games in favor of the New York Giants.

Fogel had an interesting and incongruous resumé. A native of Macungie, Pa., he was both a sportswriter and a manager before arriving in the Phillies front office.

After managing the 1887 Indianapolis Hoosiers to a last-place finish in the National League, he resumed his sportswriting career. Fifteen years later, he was hired to manage the Giants - for what reason has never been clear. Three months into the season he was fired.

It was back to journalism for Fogel until 1909, when he somehow found enough money to buy the Phillies. Eight years after his ban, in 1920, Fogel wrote an article for The Inquirer in which he claimed both the 1905 and 1908 World Series had been rigged.

After winning a pennant in 1915, the Phillies descended to laughingstock status, in large part because the men who succeeded Fogel were equally underfunded.

That included Cox, who purchased the forlorn franchise in March 1943 for $80,000, a price indicative of the state of the franchise.

Before he bought the team, baseball, burned by the 1919 Black Sox scandal, had forced him to sell his interest in several race horses.

Early in his first season, Cox was accused of betting on baseball. He denied it at first, but later admitted he had, claiming he knew nothing of the rule barring an owner from wagering on his team. Presumably, he had been betting against the Phillies, but in any event, he told baseball officials he had stopped as soon as he learned it was illegal.

That wasn't good enough for baseball, which banned him for life and forced him to sell the team to wealthy DuPont heir Robert R.M. Carpenter, whose family owned the Phils until 1981.


ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com

@philafitz

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