Friday, December 11, 2009

Name: Jacqueline Autry
Nickname: Jackie
Position: Owner

Years As an Angel: 1981-1998

How She Was Acquired: She married Gene Autry, the owner at the time, on July 19, 1981.

Why You Should Know Her: As the wife of owner Gene Autry, Jackie took over most of the club’s financial operations in the early 1990s and imposed a strong fiscal discipline on the club. This fiscal discipline led to several questionable free agent departures and signings that baffled and frustrated fans during that time period.

Born Jacqueline Ellam, Jackie’s background had been in the banking industry where she worked in Palm Springs. She first met Gene when he purchased the Holiday Inn in Palm Springs (later renamed the Gene Autry Hotel) in 1963.

After the passing of Gene’s first wife, Ina, in early 1980, Jackie and Gene became more acquainted in December, 1980. On July 19, 1981, they married.

As Gene’s health began to fail in the late 1980s, Jackie became more and more involved with running the Angels. By the early 1990s, she was the driving force behind the ownership.

In 1993, in an effort to gain support for revenue sharing throughout Major League Baseball, Jackie Autry attended meetings with the self-described “small market teams”. This led to the perpetration that a team in Orange County could not compete economically with the likes of the Dodgers in the same metropolitan area. By the early 2000s, this notion of the Angels as a “small market team” led many to speculate that the Angels could be contracted due to the fiscal pressure affecting the Major Leagues.

In 1996, Jackie helped arrange the sale of the Angels to Disney. At first, Disney acquired a 25% ownership stake in the team with an option to buy the team after Gene’s death. In 1998, Gene died, and Jackie sold the remaining portion of the team to Disney.

Jackie Autry was the first woman (and so far the only woman) to ever to serve on the Major League Baseball Executive Council, the Oversight Committee and a member of the Board of Directors.

Memorable Moments/Games: With much hesitation, and, after several bad drafts, Jackie Autry approved the selection of Troy Glaus in 1997 with the 3rd overall pick in the draft.

Anecdotes and Quotes: Jackie is best known for the fiscal restraint that she demonstrated during the early 1990s and perpetrating the notion that the Angels were a “small market” team.

Where is She Now?: Currently, Jackie lives in Palm Springs and serves on a number of philanthropic boards and agencies. Related to baseball, Jackie serves as the Honorary President of the American League in which capacity she presents the American League Championship Trophy, the William Harridge Award to the champion of the ALCS and the ALCS Most Valuable Player Award.

Contributed by David Saltzer - Columnist
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