New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Fred Wilpon

Fred Wilpon (Executive.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Nov. 22, 1936.) A graduate of the University of Michigan, Fred Wilpon entered the real estate field as vice president of Hanover Equities in 1959 and a decade later moved to Peter Sharp & Co. Since 1971, he has been chairman of Sterling Equities and owner of extensive real estate holdings. Wilpon played baseball with future Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax at Brooklyn’s Lafayette H.S. His lifelong interest in baseball led him to join the syndicate that purchased the Mets in January 1980 from the heirs of the original owner, Mrs. Charles Shipman Payson (the former Joan Whitney). Since 1980, he has served as president of the Mets and has been active both in the resuscitation of the team (which won the World Series in 1986, the N.L. pennant in 2000, and the N.L. East Division championship in 2006) and the construction of a new stadium (Citi Field, which opened next door to the demolished Shea Stadium in 2009). Wilpon brought pro baseball back to Brooklyn in 2001 when the Mets’ Class-A affiliate in the New York-Penn League moved there and became the Cyclones. On Aug. 13, 2002, Wilpon became the principal owner of the Mets when his purchase of Nelson Doubleday’s half-interest for a reported $200 million was announced.  Wilpon and his family were major victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, revealed in 2008, and the Wilpons’ potential liability to other victims led to questions as to whether Wilpon would be forced to sell the Mets to satisfy those losses.  Indeed, in 2011, an agreement was announced whereby hedge fund investor David Einhorn would purchase an interest in the Mets.  However, court rulings appeared to cap the Wilpons’ exposure to other Madoff victims and the family’s need to sell a portion of the team evaporated.  Shortly thereafter, so did the putative Wilpon-Einhorn deal.

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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