Powel Crosley

From BR Bullpen

Powel Crosley Jr.

Biographical Information[edit]

Powel Crosley was the longtime owner of the Cincinnati Reds, purchasing the team in 1934. The club's former home, Crosley Field, bore his name.

Crosley was fascinated by automobiles and made several unsuccessful attempts to manufacture his own model at the start of the 20th century, before eventually founding the Crosley Motors company, which manufactured several successful automotive parts, many of which he himself designed. He was also a pioneer in radio, a venture that also stemmed from his love of emerging technologies. He designed a cheap model of radio that made the technology affordable for the average family, and which soon made his company the largest radio manufacturer in the world.

He also founded Cincinnati radio station WLW, which started out as a 50-watt station but quickly grew, eventually acquiring the most powerful transmitter in the United States and hosting the most famous entertainers of the era, who wanted to be heard on "the nation's station". He was also granted the first license issued by the Federal Communications Commission for a commercial television station. While the license was granted in 1939, commercial broadcasts only began in 1947, World War II having intervened in the meantime.

Other business lines included electrical appliances, including manufacturing one of the best-selling refrigerators of the era. His automobile production line turned to war production in the 1940s, but afterwards, the Crosley small car was a very popular model in the late 1940s until production was ceased in 1952.

Crosley bought the Reds when the previous owner, Sidney Weil, an automobile dealer, went bankrupt after having lost a fortune in the 1929 stock market crash. He had had no previous interest in sports, but was a director of the bank to which Weil was in debt. At Branch Rickey's suggestion, he hired Larry MacPhail to run the ballclub. Surprisingly, it was MacPhail who persuaded Crosley to put Reds games on the radio. He hired Red Barber as the first full-time broadcaster, and soon had the Reds host the first night game in major league history at the renamed Crosley Field on May 24, 1935. The Reds were also the first team to travel by airplane rather than by train. The team also did well on the field, reaching the World Series in 1939 and 1940, winning the big prize the second year.

Crosley died just before the start of the 1961 season, having returned from his winter home in Florida to attend opening day. The Reds returned to the World Series for the first time since 1940 that year, but Crosley was no longer there to witness this. Bill DeWitt, who had been hired as General Manager in November of 1960 took over as president in December of 1961, while Crosley's son-in-law, Stanley Kess, was vice-president and represented the family interests until DeWitt was able to put together a group to purchase the team outright in March 1962.

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