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From BR Bullpen
James Edward Gaffney
 Biographical Information
James Gaffney was the owner of the Boston Braves from December of 1911 to 1916. In partnership with John Ward, he purchased the team from the estate of the late William Hepburn Russell, under whose brief ownership the team was known as the "Rustlers". He put up $187,000 for the transaction. Born to Irish immigrants in New York City, Gaffney was first a policeman, then made his fortune in the construction business and by marrying into a wealthy Manhattan family. He had connections to Tammany Hall, the political machine that dominated New York City politics and patronage appointments throughout the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century, and which was named after a Delaware Indian chief. He was a New York alderman thanks to those connections and served as the right hand man to Charles F. "Boss" Murphy, New York City's main power broker at the time. Sportswriters used that link to change the team's nickname to the "Braves". Gaffney liked the name and had an Indian head motif added to the sleeves of the team's uniform, making the name official.
Before buying the Braves, Gaffney had some other involvement in baseball, for example by lending money to Clark Griffith, who was a friend from New York days, to buy the Washington Senators in 1911. He also looked at acquiring a couple of American League franchises by himslef, before setting his sights on Boston's National League team.
The Boston team had fallen on hard times over the previous decade and had become perennial doormats in the National League. Ward was first installed as team President, but left disenchanted in mid-1912, selling his shares to Gaffney and leaving the team under his sole control. Gaffney turned the team's fortunes around by hiring George Stallings to manage the club in 1913 and giving him free rein. He also bought disenchanted Chicago Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers the following year, and he would prove a tremendous on-field leader for the club. Through his innovative use of platooning and a lot of luck, Stallings engineered the so-called "Miracle Braves" team that won a completely unexpected World Series title in 1914, after being in last place until early July. Gaffney also had Braves Field built during his tenure and inaugurated on August 18, 1915. His downfall began when he became the target of an investigation into political graft. In 1913, Gaffney had sought to be named New York State's Commissioner of Highways with the support of friends in Tammany Hall, but Governor William Sulzer refused to do so. The resulting fallout was that Tammany Hall boss Murphy used his power to have Sulzer impeached by the State Assembly, triggering in turn John A. Hennessy and Charles S. Whitman's investigation into corruption in New York City that tarnished Gaffney's image irremediably. On January 8, 1916, he sold the team to Percy Haughton, apparently for a significant profit, but retained ownership of Braves Field, collecting rent for years.
 Further Reading
- Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella: "James Gaffney", in The New Biographical History of Baseball, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2002, pp. 145-146.
- Bob Ruzzo: "Braves Field: An Imperfect History of the Perfect Ballpark", The Baseball Record Journal, SABR, Volume 41, Number 2 (Fall 2012), pp. 50-60.