CWRU Links

SOMERS, CHARLES W.

SOMERS, CHARLES W. (13 Oct. 1868-28 June 1934) was a founder of the CLEVELAND INDIANS baseball team and financier of the American League in the early 20th century. Born in Newark, OH to Joseph Hook and Philenia McCrum Somers, he came with his family to Cleveland in 1884 and attended business school before working for the J.H. Somers Company, his father's bituminous coal operation. Somers established his own coal business and by age 31 was worth $1,000,000 before selling out and rejoining his father's company as general manager. Along with John F. Kilfoyle (1863-1913), Somers purchased LEAGUE PARK from FRANK DEHAAS ROBINSON in 1900 and founded a team in the newly established American League. Kilfoyle became president of the Cleveland franchise and Somers vice president, with Somers succeeding to the presidency upon Kilfoyle's retirement in 1908. Somers also invested his money to start teams in Philadelphia and Boston and loaned money to the owners in Chicago and Baltimore-New York. During his years as the owner of the Cleveland Baseball Company, he acquired NAPOLEON LAJOIE, the team's first superstar player, modernized League Park, and organized a farm system to develop young players. Because of declining attendance, growing competition from the Federal League, and bad business investments, Somers was forced to sell the team in late 1915. He continued to own the New Orleans Pelicans in the Southern Association, but spent most of his time rebuilding his business investments.

Somers was married twice. He had a daughter, Dorothy (Mrs. W.W. Clark) from his first marriage. His second wife, Mary Alice Gilbert, survived him. Somers died at Put-in-Bay, OH, and is buried at LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.