Neyer: Is Jeffrey Loria the worst baseball owner ever?

From SABR member Rob Neyer at Baseball Nation on November 14, 2012:

Tuesday night, in the wake of the news that Jeffrey Loria is blowing up the Marlins, my friend Dave Cameron tossed me a Twitter challenge (Twallenge?), asking where Loria ranks among baseball’s all-time worst owners.

Well, it depends.

Wayne Huizenga brought Major League Baseball to Miami, financed a World Series-winning team just a few years later … and immediately gutted the roster before selling the franchise for a hefty profit. Was Huizenga a great owner, or a terrible owner?

Carl Pohlad, one of the richest men in America, purchased the Minnesota Twins in 1984. In both 1987 and ’91, the Twins won World’s Championships. Roughly a decade later, Pohlad threatened, quite bluntly, to simply fold the franchise. Was Pohlad a great owner, or a terrible owner?

Gerry Nugent took control of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1932. That season, the Phillies enjoyed their first winning season since 1917, but then the cash-strapped franchise finished in seventh or eighth-place in the eight-team National League in each of the next 13 seasons. Prior to the ’42 season, Nugent had to borrow money from the league just to open spring training; the league orchestrated a sale of the franchise to young William Cox. Was Nugent a terrible owner, or just under-financed?

Cox came in and did some nice things, including building the Phillies’ first real farm system, and attendance doubled in 1943. Cox lasted less than one full year; just two months after the World Series, Cox was handed a permanent suspension by the Commissioner, for betting on the Phillies. Was Cox a terrible owner for getting banned, or a good owner for laying a solid foundation for the next owner?

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Related link: Read all published SABR biographies of team executives and owners here

Originally published: November 14, 2012. Last Updated: November 14, 2012.