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Belanger, Mark (08 June 1944–06 October 1998), baseball player and union leader, was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the son of Ed Belanger, a factory worker and technician, and Maria Bianchi Belanger. An excellent all-around athlete, Belanger stood out in basketball as well as baseball at Pittsfield High School, once scoring 41 points in a basketball game that gave his school the Western Massachusetts championship in 1962. After being scouted by Frank McGowan and Joe Cusick, he signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent and began his professional career with Bluefield (West Virginia) in the Rookie League. Under the tutelage of manager Billy Hunter, the right handed hitter and thrower averaged .298 at the plate with 3 home runs and 23 runs batted in. In 1963 Belanger entered the Army and served one year, after which he returned to the minor leagues with Aberdeen (South Dakota) in the Northern League. He was named “Rookie of the Year” in 1964 despite only hitting .226. He advanced to Elmira (New York) in the Eastern League the following year and, despite a weak batting average of .229, was named to that league's all-star team....

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Brundage, Avery (28 September 1887–08 May 1975), athlete, businessman, and sports administrator, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Charles Brundage, a stonecutter, and Amelia “Minnie” Lloyd. After a move to Chicago, Charles Brundage deserted his family, leaving the five-year-old Avery and his brother Chester to be reared by their mother. Thanks to some fairly affluent uncles, the Brundages endured genteel rather than desperate poverty. Brundage worked his way through the University of Illinois, earning a B.A. in engineering in 1909. In college and after, he was a dedicated and successful track-and-field athlete. His participation in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, in the decathlon and pentathlon, was a defining experience. In an unpublished autobiography he wrote that his “conversion, along with many others, to [founder Pierre de] Coubertin’s religion, the Olympic Movement, was complete.” The choice of the word “religion” was deliberate. For Brundage, the Olympic Games were a utopian contrast to the sordid worlds of business and politics....

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Crowninshield, George, Jr. (27 May 1766–26 November 1817), merchant and yachtsman, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of George Crowninshield, a merchant, and Mary Derby. Though never married, he had one daughter, Clarissa (called Clara), whose mother was Elizabeth Rowell. The Crowninshields, among the richest Salem merchant families, gained their wealth through privateering and in the Far Eastern trade for which Salem was famed in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. After studying navigation and going to sea as a captain’s clerk, Crowninshield commanded a ship to the West Indies in 1790 and, according to records, commanded the ...

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Haggin, James Ben Ali (09 December 1822–12 September 1914), mine owner, land developer, and horseman, was born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, the son of Terah Temple Haggin, a lawyer and farmer, and Adeline Ben Ali, a schoolteacher. Haggin’s mother was said to have been the daughter of Ibrahim Ben Ali, an exiled Turkish army officer who settled in England and then moved to Philadelphia in the mid-1790s. Ben Ali’s residence in England is well attested, but there is no record that he ever lived in Philadelphia, where he supposedly settled and practiced medicine. Haggin may not have descended from a Turk, but he gloried in the name Ben Ali....

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Kelly, John Brendan (04 October 1889–20 June 1960), athlete and businessman, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Henry Kelly, a woolen mill worker, and Mary Ann Costello. Both parents were Irish immigrants, and “Jack” Kelly was the youngest boy in a family of ten children. From modest beginnings, the Kellys of Philadelphia’s East Falls, a working-class neighborhood near the Schuylkill River, went on to enjoy unusual success in business, entertainment, and sports. Among Kelly’s brothers were ...

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Kelly, John Brendan, Jr. (24 May 1927–02 March 1985), businessman and athlete, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John B. Kelly, Sr., a businessman, and Margaret Majer. The brother of actress Grace Kelly, he was the only son of parents who had distinguished themselves in sports prior to their marriage. His mother had been a competitive swimmer and had earned her college degree in physical education, while his father had won three gold medals in rowing at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium....

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Kenner, Duncan Farrar (11 February 1813–03 July 1887), businessman and Confederate legislator and diplomat, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the youngest son of William Kenner and Mary Minor Kenner. He was educated by private tutors and in private schools in New Orleans, where his father was a prosperous merchant, planter, and public official. Duncan's mother died at age twenty-seven when he was twenty months old, and his father died when he was eleven. Raised by relatives, Duncan attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he completed his studies in 1831. From the spring of 1832 to the fall of 1834 he traveled and studied in Europe; letters of introduction and social contacts brought him twice to the Austrian court, including a private meeting with Prince Klemens von Metternich, and to a ball for European royalty given by Baron Rothschild....

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Reach, Alfred James (25 May 1840–14 January 1928), baseball player, sporting-goods manufacturer, and franchise owner, was born in London, England, the son of Benjamin Reach, a trading agent, and Elizabeth Dyball. His parents immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, when he was a year old. He had little formal education. Brought up with temperate values and a strong work ethic, Reach sold newspapers on Broadway and worked as a ship caulker. He became an ironmolder, “wielding heavy tools” twelve hours a day in a foundry ( ...

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Rosenbloom, Maxie (06 September 1904–06 March 1976), boxer, was born Max Everitt Rosenbloom in Leonard’s Bridge, Connecticut, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants (names unknown). In 1907 the impoverished family moved to New York’s Lower East Side where Rosenbloom’s father worked as a shoemaker; they later moved to Harlem. Rosenbloom was expelled from public school in the fifth grade for striking a teacher and was sent to the Hawthorne Reform School. He started boxing at the Union Settlement House in Harlem, influenced by an older brother who fought as Leonard Rose and perhaps encouraged by ...

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Spalding, Albert Goodwill (02 September 1850–09 September 1915), baseball player and executive and sporting goods manufacturer, was born in Byron, Illinois, the son of James Lawrence Spalding and Harriet Irene Goodwill Wright. Although A. G., as he was most frequently known, was fond of the “rags-to-riches” description often applied to his life, his childhood was comfortably prosperous. His mother brought a large inheritance from a previous marriage, and his father managed a 320-acre estate, owned several rental homes, farmed, and trained horses. When his father died in 1858, Albert was sent to live with an aunt in Rockford, Illinois, where he attended public school and later the Rockford Commercial College. Before his mother and siblings joined him in Rockford, the twelve-year-old Albert spent much of his time at the town commons watching local boys play baseball. Too shy to ask the other boys to play, Albert earned an invitation to join the game by catching a fly ball hit beyond center field and hurling it to the catcher. Within a few years these informal games became a local schoolboy club, the Pioneers. In 1865, when Rockford businessmen formed a new baseball club, the Forest Citys, they asked Spalding to join as pitcher. In 1867 the Forest Citys defeated the Washington Nationals, reputed to be the best team in the United States; this established Spalding as a well-known pitcher. Many years later Spalding recalled that he was “never more proud of an accomplishment in baseball” (quoted in Levine, p. 8)....

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Wright, George (28 January 1847–21 August 1937), baseball player and sporting goods entrepreneur, was born in New York City, the son of Samuel Wright, a cricket professional, and Ann Tone. When Wright was about ten, his father moved the family across the Hudson River to Hoboken, New Jersey, where the senior Wright had been named groundskeeper, coach, and bowler for the St. George Cricket Club. Here, Wright learned to play cricket; he also learned baseball at nearby Elysian Fields. He excelled in both sports. At age fifteen he was promoted from the junior to the senior nine of the Gotham Base Ball Club of New York. About the same time he was hired as assistant cricket professional for the St. George club. In 1865 he performed professionally for the Philadelphia Cricket Club, and on Wednesdays he played baseball with the Olympics, one of Philadelphia’s leading teams. That same year he played for an American all-star cricket team that defeated the Canadian team in Toronto....