12 Facts About William Shea


William Shea is better known as the founder of the Continental League, which was instrumental in bringing National League baseball back to New York City with the New York Mets, and for being the namesake of the stadium where that team played for 45 years, and paving the way for all of the MLB expansion teams that have followed.


William Shea began undergraduate work at New York University where he was admitted to the Zeta Psi fraternity, and later graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1930 and the Georgetown Law School, receiving his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1931.


William Shea was a member of the Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team for three years and played one year for the Georgetown Hoyas football team.


William Shea worked for two state insurance bureaucracies before entering private practice in 1940.


William Shea accumulated political contacts through volunteer work on influential boards such as the Brooklyn Democratic Club and the Brooklyn Public Library.


William Shea first tried to bring an existing franchise to New York, but the Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, and Pittsburgh Pirates all refused his overtures.


When requests for expansion were declined, William Shea proposed a new league, the Continental League, and travelled to a farm outside Philadelphia to talk Branch Rickey out of retirement to help him.

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William Shea was a one time owner of the Boston Yanks, the Long Island Indians, and a partial owner, with lifelong friend Jack Kent Cooke, of the Washington Redskins of the National Football League.


William Shea further persuaded Harry Wismer to sell the New York Titans, and Sonny Werblin to buy them, and was integral to the creation and administration of the initial annual championship games between the AFL and the NFL, now known as the Super Bowl.


William Shea was hired by Nassau County to persuade the National Hockey League to grant a team to the then new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, resulting in the New York Islanders, who began play in 1972.


William Shea was integral to bringing the New Jersey Americans of the American Basketball Association to Long Island in 1968 and arranging for them to play as the Nets in the Nassau County, as well as the absorption of four American Basketball Association teams into the National Basketball Association in 1976.


William Shea died from complications of a stroke he suffered two years earlier on October 2,1991 at the age of 84.