John Fetzer earned millions from his work in the infancy of radio. He amassed a fortune that enabled him to purchase part ownership of the Detroit Tigers in 1956.
The Fetzer contingent (which included actor Bing Crosby) outbid eight others, including groups led by Jack Kent Cooke, Charlie Finley, Bill Veeck, and George “Papa Bear” Halas.
Five years later he bought out the other owners to become the Tigers undisputed head man. In his second year as the Detroit boss, Fetzer appointed Jim Campbell as the team’s General Manager.
Campbell built the farm system and claimed eventual 30-game winner Denny McLain off of waivers. When the Tigers won the World Series in ’68, Campbell was largely responsible for the collection of talent. Along with a ring he received the Executive of the Year Award. It was a crowning moment in baseball for Fetzer and Campbell.
Throughout his tenure with the Tigers, Fetzer guided baseball in its relationship with television. Savvy from his radio experience, Fetzer’s work greatly enhanced the profit margin for all MLB clubs.
Though he sold the team in 1983, Fetzer he was the Chairman of the Board for the Tigers title in 1984. He was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame the same year.
Fetzer came up one vote shy of Cooperstown when he was on the Veterans Committee ballot in 2009.
In the collection is this picture of Fetzer with Tigers catcher Bill Freehan and then-American League president Joe Cronin. The two men with the Tiger owner have signed the photo boldly.