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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

St. Louis Cardinals lose one owner

Chicagoan Nick Kladis, a member of the St. Louis Cardinals ownership group, passed away on Monday.

With MLB owners meeting in Chicago, Bud Selig and his exclusive club had a special dinner Wednesday evening to welcome the new buyers of the Cubs, the Ricketts family. Not every wealthy person from Omaha, Nebraska is apparently riding Warren Buffett’s coattails as this clan made their money from TD Ameritrade.

As one ownership group came into MLB, the Cardinals lost one of their 14-member group. Chicagoan Nick Kladis had a dinner appointment with Cardinals Chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. on Tuesday night but did not show. The 81-year-old had passed away on Monday, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

Kladis was a former basketball star at Loyola who later made his fortune in the retail food industry. He was a former shareholder and board member of the Chicago White Sox in the Bill Veeck era and is a member of the Loyola and Chicagoland Sports Halls of Fame.

At this point, there is no word as to what will happen to Kladis’ ownership stake in the Cardinals. The list of investors in the club had already dropped from 15 with the recent sale of Lee Enterprises’ 2.7 percent share.

Late last year, the cash-strapped parent company of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa, sold their ownership stake in Cardinals, apparently to the majority ownership group led by DeWitt Jr. The media company had assumed their share of the club via their 2005 purchase of Pulitzer Inc, then-owner of the newspaper.

Following are the investors in the Cardinals. Snippets about their backgrounds come from a 2005 article from the St. Louis Business Journal and other sources:

DeWitt Jr. – Co-chairman of the investment firm Reynolds, DeWitt & Co. Broad investments include oil, fast food, banking, insurance, broadcasting, cable and bottling companies. Appointed to Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). Former member of the ownership groups of the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.

Donna DeWitt Lambert – DeWitt’s sister. Former director of Mississippi Valley Bancshares, holding company of Southwest Bank.

Stephen F. Brauer – U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, 2001-2003 and Chairman and chief executive of Hunter Engineering Co. of St. Louis.

Michael E. Pulitzer – Former chairman of Pulitzer Inc., owner of media properties including the Post-Dispatch, which were acquired by Lee Enterprises in 2005.

Mrs. Richard H. Sutphin – Widow of an executive with the Reynolds, DeWitt Securities Co. subsidiary.

Frederick O. Hanser (Vice Chairman) – Attorney with Armstrong Teasdale LLP. Childhood friend of DeWitt Jr.

G. Watts Humphrey, Jr. – Board member and investor in Churchill Downs Inc. Pittsburgh resident owns investment firm G.W.H. Holdings Inc.

Michael McDonnell – Heads privately held Rock Island Corp., a holding company for hardware and building products distributors and is from Memphis.

Dudley S. Taft – From Cincinnati. Former head of Taft Broadcasting Co., sold in 1987 for $1.5 billion.

Andrew N. Baur (Secretary/Treasurer) – Chairman of Southwest Bank of St. Louis. Childhood friend of DeWitt Jr.

Nick D. Kladis – see above

David C. Pratt – Founder of United Industries Inc. of St. Louis. Sold 90 percent of the firm in 1999 to Boston-based Thomas H. Lee Co. for $620 million.

Mercer Reynolds – DeWitt’s longtime friend and investment partner. U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein (2001-2003) with past ties to Bush-Cheney campaign finance committees.

John K. Wallace, Jr. – Owned charcoal manufacturer Imperial Products Corp., which he sold in 1991. Owned a diversified holding company called The Regency Group in Clayton.

Other founding owners Robert Castellini and brothers W. Joseph Williams Jr. and Thomas Williams sold their stake in the Cardinals back to the other investors when the three purchased controlling interest in the Cincinnati Reds prior to the 2006 season. Castellini’s share in the Cardinals was reportedly around ten percent.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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