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William Cox

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William Drought Cox

[edit] Biographical information

William Cox graduated from Yale University, where he starred in cross country running. He then made a small fortune in the lumber business.

In the meantime, the Philadelphia Phillies and their owner, Gerry Nugent, were running out of dirt for the hole they were digging for themselves. The Phillies, by the end of the 1942 season, were deep in debt to the National League and had averaged 107 losses a season over the previous five years. Ford Frick, President of the National League, refused any further funding and Nugent, faced with bankruptcy, sold the team to a syndicate headed by Cox for $850,000 on February 18 1943, making Cox the youngest owner in baseball.

The impetuous Cox, dissatisfied with the team's improvement to only 94 losses (projected), told the press that manager Bucky Harris was through. This was done without the courtesy of telling Harris first and Harris, in a subsequent interview, let slip the fact that Cox had placed a few bets on the team. When Judge Landis caught on to this, an investigation was performed and it was discovered that Cox had, indeed, bet on 15 or 20 games. Landis banned Cox for life on November 23rd and Cox admitted his wrongdoing on the radio the next day and sold the team to Bob Carpenter, who with newly-hired GM Herb Pennock, developed the "Whiz Kids" that would go on to win the 1950 pennant. Cox remained banned from baseball until his death in 1989.

An aside .... Bill Veeck claimed in his book, Veeck as in Wreck, that he tried to put together a plan to buy the Phillies and stock it with players from the Negro Leagues, but that had made Landis uncomfortable and the idea was squashed.

[edit] Further Reading

  • James D. Szalontai: "The Philadelphia Phillies’ 1943 Spring Training", in Morris Levin, ed.: From Swampoodle to South Philly: Baseball in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, The National Pastime, SABR, 2013, pp. 80-85.

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