Owning the Detroit Tigers
Monaghan says the best thing that came out of the Tigers for him was a Catholic friendship . . .
I am often asked what it was like owning the Detroit Tigers. As I look back, the whole thing was like a dream. First, the way the purchase happened. The 1983 season had ended, and the negotiations were cloaked in secrecy because the owner, John Fetzer, said that if word of a possible deal got to the press, the deal was dead.
The price at the time was scary — $54 million. At the time it was by far the highest price ever paid for a sports team. At that point, Domino’s Pizza only had about 800 stores, and I was also in the middle of building Domino’s Farms, the world headquarters for the pizza company.
Then the magical first year — 1984 — happened with the Tigers starting the year with a 35-5 record and going on to lead the American League East the entire season. They swept the Kansas City Royals in the playoffs. The year was capped off when they beat the San Diego Padres to win the World Series in five games.
I will never forget the celebration afterwards — late into the night at Tiger Stadium with thousands of people surrounding the stadium. A few days later, there was a big ticker tape parade through downtown Detroit and a big party at the Tigers’ offices. It was an exciting experience for my family and friends and Domino’s employees everywhere.
The best thing that came out of my owning the Tigers was my friendship with Bowie Kuhn, who was commissioner of Major League Baseball at the time we won the World Series. He was a board member of Legatus at the start of the organization – and later was on the board of the Ave Maria Foundation. He was a great friend and a devout Catholic; I still miss him. Interesting, isn’t it, how the most meaningful thing of my whole experience with the Tigers was a close friendship with a devout Catholic!
Thomas Monaghan is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter.