Frederick Michael Saigh Jr. (pronounced “sigh”) (1905–1999) was a lawyer, real estate investor, and owner of the American professional baseball franchise, the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1948 through 1953.
1 Early life
2 Early business ventures
3 St. Louis Cardinals (1947–53)
4 Post-Cardinals years
5 Personal life
Fred Saigh was born in Springfield, Illinois, and grew up in Kewanee, Illinois. The son of Lebanese immigrants who owned a chain of grocery stores, Saigh was the oldest of five children. He attended Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and graduated from Northwestern University with a law degree in 1926, at age 21. and became a highly successful tax and corporate lawyer and investor in St. Louis. He apprenticed in a law office and earned his license in 1928.
Early business ventures
One of Fred Saigh’s early ventures was a company that operated cigarette machines, but that went bankrupt. In the 1940s, he owned prime office buildings in downtown St. Louis. The buildings were two famous landmarks, the Railway Exchange Building, which headquartered The Famous-Barr Co. retail chain, and Scruggs-Vandervoort-Barney building.
St. Louis Cardinals (1947–53)
At the end of the 1947 baseball season, Saigh got wind that longtime Cardinals owner Sam Breadon wanted to sell. Breadon faced two problems. He was ill with prostate cancer, and he had been unable to find land on which to build a planned new ballpark. The Cardinals had rented Sportsman’s Park from the city’s other major league team, the American League Browns, since 1920. Although they had long since surpassed the Browns as the city’s most popular team, Breadon wanted to build a park of his own. He had set aside $5 million to build a park, and was facing the end of a five-year deadline to build it before having to pay taxes on that money. Saigh persuaded Breadon to sell the Cardinals to him, with the assurance that he wouldn’t have to pay taxes on his $5 million fund. To further put him at ease, Saigh brought in Robert Hannegan as a minority partner. Hannegan was a prominent St. Louis businessman, former United States Postmaster General, and confidante of President Harry Truman. The $4 million deal closed in late 1947.
Saigh inherited a team in transition. The Cardinals, though then just one year removed from their ninth National League pennant and sixth World Series championship since 1926,