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Dan Topping
Born
Daniel Reid Topping

(1912-06-11)June 11, 1912
DiedMay 18, 1974(1974-05-18) (aged 61)
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery (Bronx, New York)
Alma materHun School of Princeton, University of Pennsylvania
Occupation
Spouse(s)
Theodora Boettger
(m. 1932; div. 1935)

(m. 1937; div. 1940)

(m. 1940; div. 1946)

(m. 1946; div. 1952)

Alice Lowthers
(m. 1954; div. 1958)

Charlotte Lillard
(m. 1957; his death 1974)
Children9, including Dan Topping Jr.
Awards10× World Series champions:

Daniel Reid Topping (June 11, 1912 – May 18, 1974) was a part owner and president of the New York Yankees baseball team from 1945 to 1964. During Topping's tenure as chief executive of the Yankees, the team won 14 American League pennants and ten World Series championships.[1]

Early life and career

Topping was born on June 11, 1912, in Greenwich, Connecticut, to Rhea (Reid) and Henry Junkins Topping.[2] Henry Junkins Topping was the son of John A. Topping, an industrialist and president of Republic Iron and Steel. His mother Rhea was the daughter of Daniel G. Reid, who was known as the "Tinplate King" for his vast wealth in the tin industry. Daniel Topping inherited a portion of both fortunes. Topping had two brothers: Henry J. Topping (1914–1968),[3] and John Reid Topping (1921-1969).

Topping attended the Hun School and the University of Pennsylvania, and excelled in multiple sports.[2] He was an excellent golfer, qualifying for the United States Amateur Championships three times.[1] He worked in banking for a few years, opened and closed a small advertising agency, then purchased a partial interest in the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National Football League in 1931. He became the majority owner of the club and improved the team, but the onset of World War II caused several players to join the military. Topping himself joined the Marines and served in the Pacific Theater for the majority of his tenure in the Corps.[2] He left the Marine Corps as a major and later became a colonel in the Ready Reserve.[1]

New York Yankees owner

During the war, while serving in California, Topping ran into Larry MacPhail. MacPhail, then the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team, and Topping were acquainted because both Dodgers athletic teams played at Ebbets Field. In California, MacPhail told Topping of his interest in purchasing the New York Yankees. MacPhail invited Topping to join the syndicate attempting to purchase the team from the estate of Jacob Ruppert. Along with Del Webb, the group purchased a 96.88% interest in the Yankees for $2.8 million in January 1945. In March, they bought the remaining 3.12%, giving them complete control of the team.[2] MacPhail was named team president, while Topping and Webb were named vice presidents.

As a new Yankee owner, Topping wanted to move the Dodgers football team into Yankee Stadium. Tim Mara, owner of the New York Giants, who played in the Polo Grounds, held NFL territorial rights, and refused to permit this. During 1945, Topping's Brooklyn Tigers were merged with the Boston Yanks and the amalgam split its home games between Boston and Brooklyn as "The Yanks". Topping moved his team to Yankee Stadium anyway, joining the newly formed All-America Football Conference. Topping's team retained none of his players during the jump, in that the NFL ruled that the Yanks players remained under contract with Boston, but he was able to sign some of his former Brooklyn Dodger players to the football New York Yankees. The team was not one of the AAFC teams admitted to the NFL in 1950, and folded, with most of Topping's players going to Ted Collins's New York Yanks.

MacPhail became increasingly erratic and manical. After a drunken episode at the Biltmore at a Yankees 1947 World Series celebration dinner, MacPhail sold his share of the team to Topping and Webb for $2 million.[2] Topping and Webb became co-owners of the Yankees, each with a 50% share. Webb became active in American League affairs, while Topping directed team operations.

The two sold a 80% interest in the team to CBS in 1964 for $11.2 million. Webb and Topping each retained a ten percent share of the club.[4] Webb sold his interest in 1965. Topping remained as team president until 1966, when he sold his remaining stake in the Yankees.[1]

The exedra tombstone of Dan Topping in Woodlawn Cemetery
The exedra tombstone of Dan Topping in Woodlawn Cemetery

Personal life

Topping was married six times, five of which ended in divorce.[1] He married heiress Theodora Boettger in 1932.[5] They were divorced in 1935.[6] His second marriage was to actress Arline Judge in 1937. They divorced in 1940, and Judge went on to marry his brother Henry. Dan Topping was then married to three-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist Sonja Henie from 1940 to 1946. His fourth marriage was to actress Kay Sutton in 1946. From 1954 to 1958, Topping was married to Manhattan model Alice Lowthers.[7] His final marriage was to Charlotte Lillard, which lasted from 1957 until his death.

Topping fathered nine children, including Dan Topping Jr.

He died of complications from emphysema in Miami Beach, Florida, on May 18, 1974, at age 61.[1] He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Dan Topping Dead at 61; Yankee Owner 22 Years". The New York Times. May 20, 1974. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e Armour, Mark; Leavitt, Daniel R. "Dan Topping". SABR.org. Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  3. ^ "Henry J. (Bob) Topping Dies; Was Heir to Tin Plate Fortune" (PDF). The New York Times. April 23, 1968. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  4. ^ Koppett, Leonard (March 2, 1965). "Webb Sells 10 Per Cent Interest in Yanks to C.B.S. for $1.4 Million; TOPPING REMAINS AS HEAD OF CLUB" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  5. ^ "Oil Princess Needs Director". New York Daily News. Newspapers.com. April 29, 1932. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  6. ^ TIMES, Special to THE NEW YORK (July 6, 1935). "RENO DIVORCE GIVEN TO MRS. D.R. TOPPING; Wife of Amateur Golfer Gets Decree on Ground of Cruelty -- Was Wedded Here in 1932". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  7. ^ "Milestones". Time. December 1, 1958. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
Sporting positions Preceded byJacob Ruppert Estate Owner of the New York Yankees with Del Webb and Larry MacPhail 1945-1947with Del Webb 1947-1964 Succeeded byCBS Preceded byLarry MacPhail New York Yankees President 1947-1966 Succeeded byMike Burke