Larry MacPhail - Inductee - 2007

He was born Leland Stanford MacPhail in Cass City, Michigan. He acquired the name, Larry, when he was officiating Big Ten football games and he was listed in a program as Lawrence. His friends shortened it to Larry and it stuck. His father, C.W. MacPhail, was the founder of the present West Shore Bank and many other banks in Michigan. Larry lived in Scottville and later in Ludington, where he attended high school, completing his studies there in 1907. It was in 1906 that MacPhail was a member of his school’s baseball team. Enroute to a mythical state championship, the team played and defeated Paw Paw which was led by future major league catcher Bill Killefer. MacPhail also attended Staunton Military Academy in Virginia and Beloit College in Wisconsin, but only after turning down an appointment to Annapolis. In 1910, while at the University of Michigan law school, he met and befriended Branch Rickey, who, like MacPhail, would become one of the most famous executives in major league baseball. He worked in law and business until 1917 when he enlisted in the 114th Field Artillery. He saw action at St. Mihiel and Argonne and was wounded slightly just before the armistice. A month later, he and fellow soldiers concocted a plan to kidnap Kaiser Wilhelm II who was residing in neutral Holland. They narrowly missed pulling it off. After a stint as a minor league executive, he and Crosley Powell took over the Cincinnati Redlegs in 1933. MacPhail supplied the brains, Crosley the money. A year later, the Reds became the first team to fly. His next innovation was playing under the lights. The first game was May 24, 1935, and the well-networked MacPhail had President Franklin Roosevelt throw the switch from Washington, D.C. MacPhail took over a floundering Brooklyn Dodgers’ franchise and in 1941 the team was in the World Series against the New York Yankees, the team with which MacPhail would next be affiliated. When MacPhail joined the Dodgers, he brought along night baseball and an up-and-coming broadcaster named Red Barber. After a stint as a lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Army in World War II, MacPhail and partners Dan Topping and Del Webb acquired the New York Yankees. He left baseball in 1947. His innovations included night games, radio broadcasts and plane travel and he was instrumental in setting up employee pension plans in baseball. MacPhail and his first wife, Inez, built a cottage at Epworth and they, along with children Bill, Lee and Marian, summered there for many years. He and his son, Lee, are the only father-and-son members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He later married Jean Bennett Wanamaker and they had a daughter, Jeanie. A Sporting News publication once said of Larry MacPhail that “He had a vision of what results would follow his major improvements - lights, radio, better press accommodations. He was a financial master who could out figure anyone or anything with the computer in his head. Compound totals and percentages were duck soup for this man who had stood at the head of every class he had attended, from grade school through college.” On Oct. 1, 1975, Larry MacPhail died in Miami, Florida. He was 85.