Baseball Meeting Clears Atmosphere
Booster Club Money Goes To Association
[Tri-City Herald, Dec. 16, 1952]
The cloudy atmosphere surrounding the efforts to buy the Tri-City Braves was cleared Monday night at the meeting of Athletic Association bondholders, stockholders and Booster Club members.
After leading parties frankly stated where they stood, these attempts were taken:
1. The committee presently negotiating with the owners will continue to do so and “make the best deal possible.” Immediately after the meeting the committee announced it would stick by its last offer of $25,000.
2. Money sent to the Tri-City Booster Club will be used to purchase association stock. All Booster Club members will be notified and they may withdraw their money if they wish.
3. Mike Cronin, chairman of the Tri-City Booster Club board, revealed ideal by his plan which was in effect to Mike out from under the gun.
4. Association bondholders dispelled rumors that they were out to save their own chestnuts.
5. A league threat to pick up the franchise if a deal isn't made by Wednesday was revealed.
6. Election of Association officers was postponed and the present board will serve until Jan. 19.
Harold Matheson, president of the association, opened the meeting with a review of the negotiations so far. He said the association’s last offer was $3,000 a share for the six shares plus the assumption of $7,000 in debts.
The owners countered with request for $4,000 a share with the association paying the $7,000. The association refused.
Matheson said he and Orin Hollingbery who represents the owners, dickered over the price and Matheson suggested splitting the difference. Matheson qualified his suggestion, however, pointing out it must first have the approval of his negotiating committee.
It was then that the possibility of lifting the franchise was brought up. Matheson later told Western International League directors Dewey Soriano and Fred Mercy of his split offer and the two men said if the Tri-City people agreed on the split, they could guarantee the franchise would not be moved. The WIL directors said they could lift the franchise.
Meanwhile, Les Babcock, a member of the negotiating committee had contacted league president, Robert Abel, and told him he thought the Tri-City groups were being “jerked around by threats of the owners to move the franchise to Eugene.”
Abel replied that “If you (the Tri-City groups) do not make a deal by Wednesday, you haven’t lost the franchise. If the deal is not made, I will notify the WIL board members and we’ll then lift the franchise and dispose it as we see fit.”
Babcock told the meeting, “It is my opinion that we should not give an inch. We have made the owners a fair offer and I can see no reason why we should be clubbed by them.”
“If we agree to split with them, we will give them $3,000 or two good pitchers.”
Dwight Hendricks of Richland, a member of the Booster Club board, brought up the point that many persons felt the Boosters were saving the park for the association.
Babcock, a heavy stockholder and bondholder in the association, said he had heard rumors to that effect, too.
Then he asserted:
“Our only purpose in putting our money into the park was to bring baseball to the area. We would have invested in something else if we had wanted to make money. We will work hard to keep baseball here but we are not trying to save our own chestnuts.”
The crowd applauded Babcock's speech.
Others asserted that the primary interest of all was to keep baseball here and they were indifferent toward the organizational structure.
Then Cronin, chairman of the Booster board, brought up his plan. Cronin said he “wasn't mad at anyone” but pointed out that he was under obligation to see the Booster investors received stock in the ball club and not in the association.
He said if it is the intention of the group to relieve him of that responsibility, that was all right with him. He said he had deposited some $2,400 in the bank and another $7,400 in checks was being held in the bank.
The Booster Club members present then agreed that the money should be converted to association stock after the investors had received notice.