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John S. Hammond

Bust of white-haired man wearing suit and tie
John Hammond in 1928

Col. John Stevens Hammond (December 5, 1880 - December 9, 1939) was an original sponsor and the first president of the New York Rangers franchise in the National Hockey League (NHL) in the United States.

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Hammond was born into a family of iron manufacturers from Crown Point, New York. His great-grandfather, Charles F. Hammond, mined and forged plates for the USS Monitor and shipped the first cargo of lumber around Cape Horn. His grandfather, Brig. Gen. John Hammond served in the Union Army and a member of the United States House of Representatives. When the Hammond family's iron works began to suffer as a result of competition from Lake Superior iron ore, the family moved to Chicago.[1]

Military careerEdit

Hammond attended the United States Military Academy, where he excelled in the standing broad jump, 20-yard dash, and football.[2] He also set a school record in the 220 hurdles.[3] He graduated from West Point in 1905 and served as a military attache in Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. While in Argentina, Hammond met Tex Rickard. Hammond left the Army to join Rickard in his cattle and oil ventures. However, Hammond rejoined the Army during World War I as an artillery instructor.[4]

Madison Square GardenEdit

After the war, Hammond worked as the South American representative for a New York brokerage firm. In 1922, Hammond rejoined Rickard, who was planning to build a new Madison Square Garden. Hammond used his Wall Street connections to help Rickard secure financing from his "600 millionaires".[1][5] The arena was built at the cost of $4.75 million in 249 days and opened on December 15, 1925.[5]

Hammond became vice president of Madison Square Garden Corporation and was tasked with finding new events to fill empty dates at the arena. One event Hammond suggested was hockey.[1][4] Hammond and Rickard arranged with Thomas Duggan, who had purchased the rights for U.S.-based National Hockey League franchises, to place one in New York. Bootlegger Bill Dwyer purchased the franchise, which became the New York Americans.[6] Dwyer remained behind the scenes, with Hammond serving as the team's president, Duggan as chairman of the board, and Tommy Gorman as the general manager.[6][7]

Hockey proved to be a big draw in New York and the Madison Square Garden Corporation wanted to establish a second team, this one controlled by the Corporation itself.[8] Hammond believed that the city was large enough to support two teams and hoped that a rivalry between the two would develop. On February 10, 1926, he resigned as president of the Americans to devote his time to organizing the new team, which became the New York Rangers.[9] Hammond signed Conn Smythe, head coach of the University of Toronto's hockey team, to serve as general manager. On October 27, 1926, before the Rangers had played a regular-season game, Hammond fired Smythe in favour of Lester Patrick. Smythe believed Hammond fired him because of his refusal to sign two-time NHL scoring champion Babe Dye, against Hammond's wishes.[10] In their second season, the Rangers won the Stanley Cup finals by defeating the Montreal Maroons three games to two.[11]

In 1928, Hammond succeeded John M. Chapman as assistant general manager of Madison Square Garden.[12] Rickard died on January 6, 1929 and the following day, Hammond was appointed by the board of directors to serve as acting general manager of the Garden.[13] On March 19, 1929, William F. Carey, a railroad builder and contractor, was chosen to succeed Rickard and Hammond returned to his role as vice president.[14]

On December 21, 1932, Hammond resigned as vice president of the Madison Square Garden Corporation and president of the New York Rangers, citing "disagreement with certain policies of the president [William F. Carey]". He was succeeded in both roles by Lester Patrick.[15]

On May 2, 1934, Hammond announced that he and his associates had purchased controlling interest of Madison Square Garden from Richard F. Hoyt for an estimated $546,000. He succeeded Hoyt as chairman of the board and returned to his former position as Rangers' president. John Kilpatrick, who had succeeded Carey as president, stayed on in that role.[16] By August 1935, however Hammond and Kilpatrick were fighting for control of the corporation.[17] On September 27, 1935, stockholders voted 143,921 shares to 129,387 in favor of directors backing Kilpatrick.[18] On October 2, Stanton Griffis was elected to succeed Hammond as chairman.[19] On March 4, 1936, Griffis announced that Hammond and his associates had sold their shares to Hemphill, Noyes & Co.[20]

Personal life and deathEdit

In 1907, Hammond married Hester Reilly. They had two children - Orson Smith Hammond and John Hammond Jr. She died in 1927. Two years later, Hammond married Louise Schulze Pomeroy.[1]

Hammond's four brothers, Thomas S. Hammond, Harry S. Hammond, Robert Hammond, and C. Herrick Hammond, were all noted amateur athletes.[1][21]

Hammond died on December 9, 1939 at his residence at 270 Park Avenue. He was 59 years old.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Col. J. S. Hammond, Promoter, 59, Dies". The New York Times. December 10, 1930.
  2. ^ "West Point Athletes: Insignia and Trophies Awarded to Those Who Excelled in Sports During the Year". The New York Times. March 23, 1903.
  3. ^ "West Point Records Fall: Shot Put, 220-Yard Hurdles, and 100-Yard Dash Show New Marks". The New York Times. June 10, 1915.
  4. ^ a b "Col. J. S. Hammond, Promoter, 59, Dies". The New York Times. December 10, 1930.
  5. ^ a b "Madison Square Garden III" on Ballparks.com
  6. ^ a b Purdy, Dennis (2013). Kiss 'Em Goodbye: An ESPN Treasury of Failed, Forgotten, and Departed Teams. Random House. ISBN 0-3455-2047-5.
  7. ^ "Deputy Fire Commissioner Hannon Named President of New York Pro Hockey Club". The New York Times. March 14, 1926.
  8. ^ Fischler, Stan & Weinstock, Zachary (2016). Rangers vs. Islanders: Denis Potvin, Mark Messier, and Everything Else You Wanted to Know about New York's Greatest Hockey Rivalry. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 1-6132-1932-6.
  9. ^ "New York to Have 2 Pro sixes Next Year; Hammond Resigns to Organize New Club". The New York Times. February 11, 1926.
  10. ^ Smythe, Conn & Young, Scott (1981). Conn Smythe: If you can't beat 'em in the alley. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-9078-1.
  11. ^ Zweig, Eric (2012). Stanley Cup: 120 years of hockey supremacy. Firefly Books. ISBN 978-1-77085-104-7.
  12. ^ "Col. Hammond Named Chapman's Successor As Aide to Rickard in Managing Garden". The New York Times. December 14, 1928.
  13. ^ "Rickard's Funeral to be at Garden: Service to Take Place Tomorrow--Hammond to Direct Affairs For Present". The Boston Daily Globe. January 8, 1929.
  14. ^ Dawson, Richard P. (March 20, 1929). "Carey is Elected Garden President". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "Hammond Resigns as Vice President of the Madison Square Garden and Head of Rangers". The Boston Daily Globe. December 22, 1932.
  16. ^ Werden, Lincoln A. (May 3, 1934). "Hammond's Group Acquires Garden". The New York Times.
  17. ^ "Garden Factions Alive: Fight Over Control Due Sept. 24 -Col. Kilpatrick Issues Reply". The New York Times. August 21, 1935.
  18. ^ "Kilpatrick Retains Control of Garden". The Boston Daily Globe. September 29, 1935.
  19. ^ "Griffis Heads Board". The New York Times. October 2, 1935.
  20. ^ "Hemphill, Noyes Gets Madison Square Stock". The Wall Street Journal. March 5, 1936.
  21. ^ "Mrs. Charles L. Hammond: Mother of Chairman of Board of Madison Square Garden". The New York Times. September 2, 1935.
Preceded by
Position created
Lester Patrick
President of the New York Rangers
1926–32
1934–35
Succeeded by
Lester Patrick
John Kilpatrick