Owning a baseball team is a rich man’s dream. Before you even consider buying a team, you have to be successful in another industry. By “successful”, I don’t mean making enough money to have a house with a white picket fence and a family. I mean making enough to buy every house with a white picket fence in the entire neighborhood. Most owners who achieve this level of success have millions and millions of dollars sitting in offshore bank accounts. At that point, owning a baseball team is a fun side gig compared to whatever industry they had to thrive in to make their money. However, there are a select few baseball owners who look at their multimillionaire friends with pity. These are the billionaires with a capital ‘B’.
Here are the top eight billionaire baseball owners. Feel free to look at their wealth with admiration and take notes. These men have different personalities and come from different walks of life. However their path to owning a baseball team is remarkably similar.
8. John Henry – Boston Red Sox, Net Worth: $1.1 Billion
John Henry‘s path to success didn’t start out as conventionally as his fellow billionaires’ path to immense wealth. In fact, John Henry was a college dropout after failing to finish his philosophy degree at the University of California. Henry would eventually find success in selling crop commodities at hefty profits and founded the John W. Henry & Co. hedge fund in Florida in his ’30s. John would eventually dabble into the world of sports by buying a piece of the New York Yankees, followed by owning the Florida Marlins, and then finally trading up from the Marlins for the Boston Red Sox in 2002.
His purchase would lead to the Boston Red Sox finally breaking the Curse of the Bambino in 2004.
7. Arturo Moreno – Los Angeles Angels, Net Worth: $1.15 Billion
Arturo Moreno went to college to get a degree in marketing after he survived a tour of duty in Vietnam. After relocating to various locations for advertising gigs, he finally settled down in Arizona and worked for Outdoor Systems. His tenure at the company lead to a period of tremendous success and growth. This success led to Moreno rising the ranks of Outdoor Systems until he was given the power to take the company public. Outdoor System’s stock immediately soared until Moreno was able to sell the company for a cool $8 billion dollars.
This deal allowed Moreno to purchase the Los Angeles Angels from The Walt Disney Company, who were still hoping for a picture-perfect ending, in 2003 for $183 million dollars.
6. Ray Davis – Texas Rangers, Net Worth: $1.9 Billion
Ray Davis made his fortune like almost every Texas billionaire since pretty much forever: oil and natural gas. Davis also hates the spotlight that tends to appear over men of immense wealth and makes it almost impossible for anyone to learn about his life. What I do know is that Davis worked for the Energy Transfer Partners Corporation for forty years before retiring with his billions in 2007. In 2012, Davis would purchase the Texas Rangers along with Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg for an estimated $593 million dollars.
Not to shabby for a Texas oil man who may as well be a ghost.
5. John Fisher – Oakland Athletics, Net Worth: $2.2 Billion
John Fisher is the son of Doris and Don Fisher, the co-founders of the Gap clothing company, maybe you’ve heard of it? He graduated with a Master’ s degree from Stanford University in Business Administration and took a job with a real estate company that frequently deal with the Gap. Unfortunately, that company didn’t survive, so he became president of Pisces Inc., his family’s investment company. John’s success with Pisces led to an investment opportunity with the Oakland Athletics in 2005.
He took it and has been an integral part of the baseball organization ever since. It was impossible to find a suitable picture of Fisher, so we chose to show Athletics’ fans dismay instead.
4. Michael Ilitch – Detroit Tigers, Net Worth: $2.4 Billion
Have you ever been drunk enough to order a Little Caesars pizza? Did you regret it the next morning as you hugged your toilet, unsure of whether it was the alcohol or the pizza that put you over the edge? Well you can thank Michael Ilitch for that, as he made his fortune by turning a small pizza place in Detroit into a huge franchise all across the United States. This successful business venture led to him buying the Detroit Tigers in 1992 for an undisclosed amount.
He also owns the Detroit Red Wings but that’s another discussion for another article.
3. Ted Lerner – Washington Nationals, Net Worth: $4 Billion
In the 1950s, Ted Lerner borrowed money from his wife in order to create the Lerner Enterprises real estate company in Maryland. His wife made a great investment because it led to Lerner Enterprises being the largest private landowner in Washington D.C. Needless to say, Ted became very rich and was able to buy the Washington Nationals in 2005 for $450 million dollars from the MLB. Lerner would dig into his own pocketbook numerous times in order to prevent the Nationals from losing money. A notorious example would be when he spent $2 million dollars to install private bathrooms for his personal skybox.
Under his direction, the Washington Nationals would go from nobodies to National League East champions by 2012.
2. Charles Johnson – San Francisco Giants, Net Worth: $4.5 Billion
Charles Johnson is almost as hard to keep track of as Ray Davis. He took over his father’s investment business, Franklin Distributors, in 1957 as chief executive. Years later, he would become a major owner of the San Francisco Giants through the San Francisco Baseball Associates. Johnson has led the Giants through two World Series titles since 2010 and looks to keep them highly competitive in the league.
Charles has also insured that the Giants organization earns more revenue per fan than any other team in baseball, which is no small feat.
1. John Malone – Atlanta Braves, Net Worth: $6 Billion
John Malone graduated with a Ph. D. in Operations Research from John Hopkins University. His career path started with AT&T before thriving in the cable industry as a shrewd negotiator. Presidential candidate Al Gore gave Malone the nickname of “Darth Vader” when Malone almost succeeded in destroying vast cable company regulations that the FCC had established for years in the ’90s when he became the chairman of Liberty media. Liberty Media would buy the Atlanta Braves from Time Warner in 2007 for 68.5 million shares of stock and $960 million dollars.
Keep an eye on this guy. Any billionaire with the nickname of Darth Vader should not be taken lightly for any reason. If you see anything resembling the Death Star being built, find shelter.
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