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Leiser, Fred. (Dubuque, IA, Sept. 24, 1882--Dubuque, IA, Feb. 26, 1950). Leiser was the owner of the Dubuque baseball franchise and club from 1925 to 1930. He was president of the Dubuque BASEBALL club in 1927 when, under manager Billy Speas, it was called the "Speasmen." (1) He was also the president and owner of the "Fighting Tigers" of Dubuque in 1929 when they were the champions of the Mississippi Valley League. In an article at the end of the season, an unnamed sports writer commented that
Leiser doesn't go out passing the hat. He has confidence in his public and puts his money into baseball in Dubuque, feeling sure that the support of the fans will be such as to give him the necessary backing." (2)
In an effort to attract more fans to the games, Leiser in 1930 proposed night baseball--an idea being discussed in many other cities. To make this occur, he met with members of the Chamber of Commerce in May to finalize plans for a ticket sale which, it was believed, would finance the estimated $8,000 cost of the lighting equipment. All civic organizations and businesses in the city were asked to have a member in attendance. The lights would become the property of the city. The tickets were to be sold at three for $2.00. If more money was raised than was needed for the lighting, the extra money would go to the baseball club. The ticket sale was only planned for one day. (3)
Plans for the ticket sale were changed at the May meeting. The actual sale was held on June 16th and 17th, 1930. The event was advertised as "three special night games" with the proceeds from the three nights going for the installation of lights. For $2.00 the customers received three tickets which could be used on any night of the special series. (4)
The lighting at DUBUQUE ATHLETIC FIELD would also be available for all other events which might be hosted at the site. The first use of all the lighting took place on July 14, 1930. (5) Unfortunately lighting and a good crowd could not balance poor play by the Tigers who lost to Moline by a score of 13 to 7. (6)
The ticket sale must not have covered the estimated $8,000 cost. In September, the city council decided that all the equipment should be the property of the City of Dubuque and therefore entered into a contract with Leiser to purchase his rights to all the equipment for $4,850 to be paid in two payments in 1931 and 1932 without interest. (7)
In 1930 Leiser was given a new three-year lease on the athletic field by the city council. Issued for the years 1931 to 1933, the lease noted that for an annual rental fee of $300 Leiser would pay for all improvements and repairs at the park, maintain and repair all electrical equipment, and pay for the electricity used in the new night lighting system during April to the middle of September. Leiser was able to sublet the park during the baseball season for other enterprises, but had to give 25% of the gross rental charge he collected to the city. Local baseball teams could use the park free-of-charge when the Dubuque club was away from home as long as they did not charge admission. Baseball teams charging an admission were charged a rental fee. The rental fee for the park during the fall for night football games regardless of who played would be $75 per night. (8)
On October 29, 1930 directors of the Mississippi Valley baseball league while meeting in Moline, Illinois announced their approval of the sale by Leiser of the club, franchise and lease to Percy Gray of Chicago, Illinois. There was an understanding that the franchise would remain in Dubuque. (9)
In 1932 leaders of the Three-Eye and Mississippi Valley Baseball leagues considered the consolidation of the four strongest teams of the each league for the next season. Such a suggestion was met with doubt. The president of the Mississippi Valley League, Dr. Charles Logan, had the next season arranged. In addition, clubs in the league had established major league connection that seemed solid. The only uncertainty came from some clubs whose members did not want to start another season.
Back pay was still owed to baseball players in Dubuque from the 1932 season. Under the rules, those salaries had to be settled before the city could participate in a new season. Despite assurances by Leiser, in cooperation with Dubuque Baseball Inc., in the last half of the 1932 that accounts would be settled, time appeared running out for the team to play. (10)
1. "President Fred Leiser Elated With Prospects for Coming Year In Loop," Telegraph-Herald, January 1, 1920, p. 11
2. "Scoop," "Behind the Screen," The Telegraph-Herald, September 5, 1929, p. 11
3. "Final Plans Will Be Made Tonight," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, May 29, 1930, p. 15
4. "Stage is All Set for First Night Baseball Contest in Dubuque," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, July 14, 1930, p. 7
5. "Scoop," "Behind the Screen," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, June 15, 1930, p. 29
6. "Ludscik Starts; Fails to Finish," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, July 15, 1930, p. 8
7. "City Council Proceedings," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, September 5, 1930, p. 5
8. "Council Grants Ball Park Lease," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, September 10, 1930, p. 7
9. "Proposal Made for New League in Middle West," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, October 11, 1932, p. 10
10. "Percy Gray Buys Dubuque Ball Club," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, October 29, 1930, p. 13
Leiser also operated a popular restaurant on the southern edge of Sageville.