Alexander Heinemann – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
New Orleans Pelicans
A New Orleans native who attended college at Spring Hill in Mobile, Ala., Alexander Heinemann sold peanuts, pop, candy, and popcorn at the old Sportsman’s Park, home of the New Orleans Pelicans, before advancing from concessionaire to management within the Pelicans organization. In 1904 he became the secretary and by 1912 he was a vice president.
In 1914, Heinemann successfully orchestrated the construction of a new ballpark at the corner of Tulane and South Carrollton Avenue – including using mule teams to drag the wooden grandstands from their former location across from present-day Jesuit High School. With that project handled successfully, absentee owner Charles Somers named Heinemann president of the club and also named the Pelicans’ new home field Heinemann Park.
Heinemann invested almost all of his personal savings into the stock of the Pelicans and in the process played a major part in turning around the most important franchise in the Southern Association. Heinemann’s interest in the Pelicans was worth more than $300,000 – equal to several million in today’s dollars.
Under Heinemann’s guidance the New Orleans Pelicans reached their pinnacle. He brought in Johnny Dobbs in 1915 as the team’s manager and the club captured their third and fourth Southern Association pennants in 1915 and 1918. Among the players signed by Heinemann who moved on to successful major league careers were Shoeless Joe Jackson, Hank DeBerry, Dazzy Vance, Jim Bagby, Joe Martina and Joe Sewell.
In 1923 Heinemann replaced Johnny Dobbs with New Orleans native Larry Gilbert as the club’s manager. Together Gilbert and Heinemann would lead their team to three more Southern Association titles in 1923, 1926 and 1927.
Like many Americans, Heinemann suffered severe financial losses as a result of the stock market crash in October of 1929. He also felt responsible for the financial losses of his protégé, Larry Gilbert, who had also invested in the stock market on Heinemann’s advice. On the morning of January 8, 1930, Alexander Julius Heinemann shot himself to death in his office at the ballpark. He was 52 years old. His hand-written will stipulated that Larry Gilbert be reimbursed for any money he had lost in the stock market.
Also a member of the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, Heinemann was born in 1878.
MORE READING: A Colorful Figure in Local Baseball Lore by Gary Higginbotham
- Born in 1878 and died in 1930.