Baseball's two major leagues last week roughly resembled a brace of parents who, having nodded in cursory and unhearing agreement at Junior's proposal that he take a bride, look up to find him entering the living room with a wife on his arm and a string of bassinets trailing expectantly behind. It is safe to say that when Commissioner Ford Frick and the bigwigs of established baseball agreed in theory not long ago to the idea of a third major league (SI, June 1), they were thinking of something that might happen, say, five, six or even seven years hence. But, like many a parent, they underestimated Junior.
In this case Junior was dynamic William A. Shea, chairman of Mayor Wagner's committee to get more big-league ball back to New York. With the existing leagues' definite if unenthusiastic nod of approval in his pocket, Bill Shea last week walked into baseball's living room ready for the wedding, with not one bride but two (each shown here in suitably fashionable portraiture), each with a dowry fat enough to choke an umpire and each escorted by a small army of happy would-be in-laws from the topmost drawer of the sporting aristocracy.
To give the metaphor a rest and get down to cases, Bill Shea announced that he had the money all ready—some $4.5 million of it—to form a second ball club for New York City and would shortly be able to announce the details of a continent-wide third major league composed of this club and possibly 11 more like it.
The principal backers of Shea's New York club, for which the Mayor has practically promised to build a stadium on the old world's fair site in Flushing Meadow, are multimillionaire baseball fans Joan Whitney (Mrs. Charles Shipman) Payson, who already owns a piece of the Giants, and Dorothy Killam (widow of Canadian paper baron Isaak Walton Killam), who once tried to buy the Dodgers outright. Stringing along with Horsewoman Payson (sister of Ambassador Jock Whitney) and Mrs. Killam in the new syndicate are Dwight Davis, son of the donor of tennis' Davis Cup (with a share roughly equal to that of the ladies); George Herbert Walker, son of the donor of golf's Walker Cup; investment banker Donald Grant, a Giant stockholder; and travel executive William Simpson. "We just got talking to Bill Shea one day," said Simpson, an oldtime ball fan, in some bewilderment last week, "and suddenly I found myself involved."
June 28, 1959
There are still a good many problems to be solved before Bill Shea's third league becomes a working reality. In the first place, the official approval of the existing big leagues, without whose active help and encouragement no third league could exist, must still be obtained. There are stadiums to be built all over the country and money to be raised for them. Most importantly, there is the necessity to find, beg, borrow, buy or train an army of new high-caliber ballplayers. None of these problems bother Bill Shea or his committee. A third league, says Shea, would make baseball once again a "truly national" game. The only real problem he foresees is "which cities to leave out."