By Robert Marks, They’re in The Gate
A outstanding post by Valerie at Foolish
Pleasure on Steelers founder Art Rooney and his 2 day killing
in 1936 at 2 New York Race Tracks has inspired me to write about my favorite
football team and last year's Super Bowl Champs the New York Giants.
For when you mention The Football Rooney Family, thoughts about the Football
Mara Family are not far behind. Art Rooney was very close friends with Tim
Mara, the original owner of the New York Giants, whose family still owns
50% of the Giants.
Just like Art Rooney, The Mara Family ownership of the New York Giants would
not have existed if it were not for Tim Mara's entry into the Horse Racing
After dropping out of school when he was thirteen, Tim Mara became a runner for
Thomas "Chicago" O'Brien, a
major New York
gambler. Mara delivered newspapers and worked in a book bindery by day; by
night he made pickups and deliveries for O'Brien. Mara later opened up his own
book bindery company, which fronted for his own bookmaking operation.
Soon, Mara worked his way up to his own enclosed space at Belmont Park
and became a member of the local racing association. He handled as much as
$30,000 in wagers in a single day, a large sum back in the 1920's.
Joe Carr, the NFL's President, wanted a showcase franchise in New York and offered it
to fight promoter Billy Gibson. Gibson declined but introduced Carr to
his friend Tim Mara.
At the time Mara bought the Giants, he had never even seen a football game. But
the promoters of the NFL knew that bookmakers were a type extremely
"susceptible" to new forms of investment. They offered Mr. Mara the
franchise and he accepted. The then 39 year old Horse racing Bookmaker Tim Mara
paid $500 for the New York Giants in August 1925.
Mr. Mara also continued his bookmaking activities at the racetrack.
obituary on Rooney, by day's end
he had taken in more than $100,000. The next day, he went up to
But his good friend Art Rooney would not bet with Mara. One Saturday, Mr.
Rooney went to the old Empire City race track in Yonkers in 1936 and asked his good buddy Tim
Mara to pick a winner for him. Mara gave him a 14-1 shot in the 1st race which
Rooney reportedly bet $500 on and got back more than $7,000. His run of luck
continued,and according to the NY Times Saratoga, and on
Monday, parlayed his $100,000 into more than $300,000. Exactly how much he
made, as described in detail in Valerie's
Blog, depends on who you ask, but rest assured it was a lot (and this is
depression era dollars we are talking about !).
Rooney once told sports columnist Red Smith,
"I had Tim Mara's figures but sometimes I'd see
something the charts didn't see, like a change of jockeys or post position, and
I'd use my own judgement."
When Mr. Rooney came home that day in 1936, he told his wife, Kathleen, who was
''We don't have to worry about money again.''
In Mara's honor, the Rooneys named their next child Tim. Chris Mara, a
grandson of Timothy J. Mara, is married to one of Mr. Rooney's
Mark Maske. War Without Death (Penguin Group, 2007) p. 15
Roberth H. Boyle. It's Just One Man's Family Sports Illustrated 09/25/72
Gerald Eskenazi. Art Rooney, 87, Founder of NFL's Steelers, Dies. (NY