M. Donald Grant
M. Donald Grant
Michael Donald Grant
May 1, 1904
|Died||November 28, 1998 (aged 94)|
(m. after 1932)
Grant was born in Montreal in 1904, the son of Hockey Hall of Fame defenceman Mike Grant, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950. The younger Grant tried his hand at amateur hockey in Canada before coming to the United States in the mid-1920s.
Grant moved to New York City in 1924, and, starting as a hotel night clerk and part-time ice hockey referee, gained a foothold in a career on Wall Street. He worked for Billings, Olcott & Co., E.B. Smith & Co., and, in 1936, Redmond & Co. In 1938 Grant was named a general partner and was, from 1945, a managing director of the brokerage firm Fahnestock & Company.
Grant's interest in baseball stemmed from a long-standing friendship with Joan Whitney Payson, who in the 1960s became the Mets' principal owner. Grant was a member of the New York Giants board of directors in the 1950s. He and Payson were the only members of the Giants board who opposed the team's move to San Francisco after the 1957 season.
With the Mets, Grant was known for bringing fan favorite and former Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges back to New York in 1968 to manage the team. Only one year later in 1969, the Mets won their first World Series, beating the Baltimore Orioles, 4 games to 1. The Mets first manager during their first years at the Polo Grounds, former home of the New York Giants was former NY Giants player, Boston Braves and NY Yankees manager, Casey Stengel.
After Payson's death, her daughter, Lorinda de Roulet, assumed ownership of the team and delegated a great deal of authority to Grant.
However, even with the success of the 1969 Mets, Grant's baseball knowledge was often questioned by lifelong baseball professionals. Whitey Herzog, Director of Player Development for the Mets when they won the 1969 World Series, said that Grant "didn't know beans about baseball."
Grant opposed Major League Baseball's move to player free agency, a stance that particularly affected the Mets as its cross-town rival, the New York Yankees, aggressively pursued free agents under majority owner George Steinbrenner.
Grant is notorious for the contentious contract negotiations and subsequent 1977 trade of future Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver from the Mets to the Cincinnati Reds. The controversy was fully played out on the back pages of New York's tabloid newspapers, with Seaver angrily accusing Grant of planting a negative article mentioning Seaver's wife with New York Daily News sports columnist Dick Young. Seaver's anger at Grant never abated, contending years later that Grant possessed "a plantation mentality" toward his players. As further evidence of Grant's failure to foresee the future of baseball and the wealth and popularity of its players, Seaver tells how Grant once confronted him astonished that Seaver would have the audacity to apply for membership in the prestigious Greenwich Country Club in Connecticut.
The Mets finished in last place two years in a row in 1977 and 1978. At one point, due to the Mets' futility on the field and low attendance records, Shea Stadium was dubbed by fans as "Grant's Tomb." Grant was fired at the end of the 1978 season.
- Edelman, Rob. "M. Donald Grant". SABR Baseball Biography Project. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
- Chass, Murray (November 30, 1998). "M. Donald Grant, 94, Dies; Executive Angered Mets Fans". New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2011.
- Golenbock, Peter (2003). Amazin': The Miraculous History of New York's Most Beloved Baseball Team. Macmillan. p. 200. ISBN 0-312-30992-9. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
- Madden, Bill (June 17, 2007). "The true story of The Midnight Massacre". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 7, 2011.