Robert Ward

From BR Bullpen

Robert B. Ward

Biographical Information[edit]

Robert Ward was a businessman, who along with his younger brother George Ward was the owner of the Ward Baking Company, a company founded by their father in 1851. The two owned bakeries across the country, but their main plant in, built in 1911 in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, was considered the most modern bakery in the country at the time, with the capacity to produce 250,000 loaves per day.

In 1914, the two brothers became the owners of a new Federal League franchise installed in Brooklyn. As one of the league's most prominent owners, he was also named league Vice-President. Journalists quickly named the team the "Brooklyn Tip Tops" in reference to Tip Top Bread, the bakery's signature product. Robert was the team principal and George was the Vice-President. Even the Federal League was successful in recruiting a group of quality players and in putting on a good-quality on-field product that corresponded to its claim of being a third major league, the rival National League and American League owners did everything in their power to ensure its quick demise and to discourage attendance. On June 29, 1914, Ward had to acknowledge this reality and announced he was slashing admission prices at Washington Park by half, from 50 cents to 25 cents, in an effort to stimulate attendance. Other teams soon followed suit. In another move aimed at increasing attendance, he announced late in 1915 that his team would play some of its games the following season under lights. However, the league folded after the season, and the plans never came to fruition.

Other problems which plagued the team was that their ballpark, which had been recently vacated by the Brooklyn Dodgers in favor of Ebbets Field, was antiquated, even after Ward sank $250,000 into improvements before the inaugural season. Also, as a religious man, he refused to allow games to be played on Sundays, depriving the team's fans of any games on what was often their only day off from work. Robert Ward had passed away shortly after the end of the 1915 season. Two months later, an agreement to dissolve the Federal League was reached, and his estate received annual payments spread over twenty years from National League owners to reimburse some of the investments he had made into the renovation of Washington Park.

The Ward brothers were not involved again in baseball after that. Their factory in Brooklyn stood until 2007, when it was demolished after an effort to have it declared a historic landmark failed. Their company became Continental Baking and still exists today as the makers of Wonder Bread and Hostess cakes, among other products.

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