Bad To The Bone

Frank Navin

    Navin was president of the Detroit Tigers for 32 years. Although trained as a lawyer, he got his start in baseball by working for S.F. Angus, the Tigers' second owner, as a bookkeeper.

    When the club was sold to William Yawkey in 1903, Navin purchased $5,000 worth of stock, reportedly with money won in a card game.

     Elevated to club president, he brought in Hughie Jennings, Ty Cobb, and others, who helped lead the Tigers to consecutive pennants in 1907, 1908, and 1909.

     Navin became rich over the years.  The number of players who the Tigers could have signed goes down as a roll call of the greats of baseball. Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Harry Hooper and many other players were all made aware of  to the Tigers.  The only thing stopping the signing of these players was the tight purse strings of Frank Navin.  Navins' rep as a skin flint was enhanced almost every year when it was time to sign Ty Cobb to a new contract. It was an annual right of spring it seemed.  Cobb, the "Georgia Peach" , trying to get what he deserved and Navin, trying to chew him down to almost slave wages. Navin never won those battles!

    And when the "Peach" became Manager in the 20's, things only got worse! The Cobb led Bengals, always great with hitting and short on pitching, were always in need of another quality starting pitcher! Every time Ty would go up to Navin and ask him to sign a certain promising rookie pitcher, the answer was always the same. No!! It got to the point where Navin and Cobb hardly spoke and the "Peach" couldn't stand the site of Navin!

    Navin was nearly ruined in 1931 by the Depression and his own racetrack losses. He was forced to sell most of his Tiger stock to William O. Briggs, although he remained team president.

    In 1934 the Tigers won their fourth pennant, and shortly before Navin's death in 1935 they defeated the Cubs in the World Series.!

    The baseball park (now Tiger Stadium) was called Navin Field from 1912 through 1937. Attendance grew in Detroit even though the team went more than two decades before its fourth pennant.

    Instead of buying players, Navin would hord the money, and make renovations to Navin Field. Adding double decker bleachers is a fine example of this!

    Navin died in 1935 when he fell and suffered a heart attack while riding a horse. One can only wonder how great the Tigers could have really been if Frank Navin had not been so tight fisted and focused on making maximum profit.