Blog Entry

Carl Pohlad: 1915-2009

Posted on: January 5, 2009 9:14 pm
 

The natural tendency when a person passes away is to forget the faults and remember the good things.

Regarding the late Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad, this is not one of those tributes.

Pohlad is given credit for saving baseball in Minnesota when he purchased the Twins in 1984, and maybe that's true. But during his time in the owner's chair, the remarkable thing is that he didn't kill baseball in Minnesota.

Lord knows, he tried.

His volunteering the Twins for contraction during baseball's despicable 2001 scheme remains one of the most reprehensible actions of any owner in recent memory.

His misrepresentation of his financial "contributions" while attempting to get public subsidy for a new stadium in 1997 for a time killed the whole idea of a new ballpark in Minnesota -- and at the very least delayed the entire project by several years.

Oh yes, this guy was a beauty. He got his start in the banking business foreclosing family farms during the Depression. Nice, huh? He remained a cold-hearted businessman the rest of the way, too.

He was worth more financially than Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, yet he kept the Twins' payroll low, Scrooge-like, in line with all of the other small-market owners. He was one of Commissioner Bud Selig's chief lieutenants in the war to keep club payrolls down.

The two had an odd alliance, Selig and Pohlad, to the point where Pohlad even sent the commissioner suits and sports jackets at times when he thought Selig needed an upgrade.

As such, and because it's what Commissioners do, Selig offered condolences in a statement issued by major league baseball on Monday: "His devotion to the Minnesota Twins, the Twin Cities and major league baseball was remarkable. In my long career, I have never met a more loyal and caring human being."

Bull.

He wasn't a caring human being when foreclosing on those families all those years ago. And he was ready and willing to kill the Twins -- baseball fans of Minnesota be damned -- when the citizens wouldn't give him a sweetheart deal on a new ballpark.

He threatened to move the team to North Carolina. It was one of the most transparent scams ever concocted. The prospective "buyer" in North Carolina essentially was a hillbilly propped up like a scarecrow to instill fear in baseball fans throughout Minnesota.

He told the public during that ill-fated news conference in '97 that he would kick in $80 million toward the new ballpark. It was only later that it was discovered that, surprise, what was advertised as his contribution really was a loan that the state would repay to him -- with interest.

And that wasn't even the most vile thing that happened. No, within the myriad scare tactics was a beauty of a television ad produced by one of his sons featuring footage of former outfielder Marty Cordova visiting a children's hospital and autographing a baseball for an ill boy.

The voiceover intoned something like, "If the Twins move away, boys like this one will never have the chance to get Marty Cordova's autograph."

Too bad the sick boy had died even before the advertisement ran on television. Nobody had gotten consent to use the boy's image, so nobody associated with the advertisement knew he had passed away until it was too late. It was another disgusting moment, and another embarrassment for Pohlad.

Yet instead of any remorse or apology after all of this, Pohlad took it to the next level when he failed to extort a stadium from the taxpayers. He joined Selig in baseball's dirty scheme, volunteering to serve the Twins up for contraction.

The irony of it all is that Pohlad's Twins remained one of the most respected organizations in the game. The one thing he did right was to put baseball people in charge and leave them there. And I will say this: The baseball people running the show, from Andy MacPhail to Terry Ryan to Bill Smith, have always said that they were treated fairly by Pohlad. I've never heard any of them utter a bad word about the man, and I suppose that says something as well.

In the long run, Pohlad did get his stadium. The new ballpark will open in 2010, and from what I've seen of the blueprints, the good people of Minnesota will be getting a ballpark that they deserve.

I can't say the same for Pohlad.

Category: MLB
Comments

Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2009 10:33 pm
 

Carl Pohlad: 1915-2009

I swear GNRSOX has a 6th sense that allows him to know when an article involving the Twins is posted.



Since: Aug 11, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2009 10:31 pm
 

Carl Pohlad: 1915-2009

Zseller:

What are you talking about?  Other than an infusion of his own personal commentary, most of what Miller outlines in the article is a matter of public record.  And in all honesty, I applaud him for having the decency to write this article because there are no lies or mistruths anywhere to be found.

The reason why the Twins have defied the economic odds and remained successful over the last decade is because Pohlad had the common sense to hire good, smart baseball people to actually run the team.  Terry Ryan, Tom Kelly, Ron Gardenhire, along with a great scouting staff and minor league developmental staff are the people who really deserve the credit here.

Pohlad might have been a decent guy, but he was a terrible owner.



Since: Aug 11, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2009 10:27 pm
 

Carl Pohlad: 1915-2009

GNRSOX:

Be careful what you wish for, man.  Pohlad's son, Jim, has been running the club for years while his bag of bones dad has been $hitting into a bag.

But with the new stadium coming, the Twins' value has already risen by half a billion dollars and it's only going to go up.  I suspect Jim Pohlad will sell the team within the next two years to someone who might actually want to win.



Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2009 10:14 pm
 

Wowl FAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Great article Scott!

It's about time that someone called this man out for what he truly was.



Since: Nov 16, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2009 10:11 pm
 

Carl Pohlad: 1915-2009

Mr. Miller;

What a tirade, you would have thought that you were personally attacked by Mr. Pohlad. What yellow journalism you use in stating more than once how despicable an individual he was because he had to foreclose on people who were not able to meet their financial obligations. Is that a tough and thankless job, Yes it is. Is it something that he probably wished he would not have to do, my guess is yes.

How about you loaning me a half a million or what ever you can afford and then I can blast you in the media when you come trying to collect the money from me. You are typical of what is wrong with this country today in that if you do what this country was founded by, which is going out and making youself successful, you some bleeding heart liberal who comes along and takes pot shots at you because you feel that he does not deserve what he has earned. My guess is that you are a big believer in the incoming Presidents plan to redistribute the wealth. My only hope is that more of yours gets redistributed than does mine.

As for the Marty Cordova incident, funny that I was a resident in Minnesota at the time and I do not recall ever seeing this ad. I am going to go out on a limb here and offer up that Mr. Pohlad had some people under him that made the decision to go with this type of ad. It is great to think that the person at the top is going to be aware of everything that happened with his companies. In real life it does not work that way.  An analogy would be to hold the head of CBS responsible for assinine comments that you make.

When you are a reporter you might want to look at things objectively and report the whole story not just one side to paint a picture the way that you want to see it. Why not report the millions of dollars that his family has give to charitable organizations??? I can tel you why, because it would not fit with your agenda.

Now I am sure that Mr. Pohlad did some things in his life that he regretted and would do differently if he had the chance. The thing is that in real life we do not get the chance to change the past, we can only improve on ourselves in the future.

There is a saying, "People in glass houses ought not to throw stones". Unless you are perfect, which I am willing to wager on you are not, please do not take the opportunity to use your position to be such an arse to a man that you obviously did not know.




Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: January 5, 2009 10:09 pm
 

Carl Pohlad: 1915-2009

After a while you just get used to it.  I can't really blame the man for participating in capitalism.  He put a quality product on the field over the (parts of the) past few decades, and that's what really matters to me.  The metrodome is an absolutely horrible facility, but at the same time I've come to love its unsightly roof, narrow concourses, and awful sight lines.  The fact that he managed to keep a profitable organization running in the dome has to count for something.


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