Bill Gladstone, who brought the Tri-City ValleyCats to Troy in 2002, died at the age of 88 on Thursday due to COVID-19 complications, the team announced on Friday afternoon.
The Brooklyn native, who lived in Scarsdale for most of the year and in the Capital Region for the two months of the New York-Penn League season, was heavily involved in the baseball industry for three decades.
In 2015, Gladstone was named the “King of Baseball” by Minor League Baseball, a longstanding tradition that recognizes a veteran of professional baseball for outstanding dedication and service to the industry.
“Bill Gladstone left an indelible mark on the game of baseball and the ValleyCats organization” ValleyCats president Rick Murphy said in a release from the team. “Bill was an inspirational leader, partner and fan of the game. His passion for the game was evident in the ValleyCats motto: ‘Fans For Life’.”
Gladstone is survived by his daughter, Susan, son, Doug, their spouses and his grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife of over 60 years, Millie, in 2018. Bill and Millie Gladstone enjoyed ValleyCats games from behind home plate in Section 100 and owned a significant collection of baseball art and artifacts, parts of which have been displayed at a number of museums.
In a National Baseball Hall of Fame statement, chairman Jane Forbes Clark said, “Bill Gladstone’s efforts in support of our National Pastime enriched the baseball community within Central New York and well beyond. With a devotion to baseball and a background in art, Bill provided valued insight to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum as a long-time trustee. On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, we loved serving alongside him, and we extend our sympathies to the entire Gladstone family at this difficult time.”
Gladstone and partners purchased the Pittsfield Mets franchise in 1992 and maintained the affiliation with the New York Mets through 2000.
The team became affiliated with the Houston Astros in 2001 and maintain that relationship currently. Gladstone was instrumental in moving the team to Troy, a move that brought affiliated baseball back to the Capital Region for the first time since 1994.
Since the organization’s arrival in 2002, the ValleyCats have won three New York-Penn League titles and sent 70 players to the majors, including Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel, J.D. Martinez, Hunter Pence and Ben Zobrist.
He joined Arthur Young & Company after graduating with honors from Lehigh University in 1951 and earned a Bachelor of Laws in 1955 from Brooklyn Law School and was admitted to the New York State Bar.
Except for time spent serving in the U.S. Air Force as a second lieutenant during the Korean War (1952-53), Gladstone spent his entire business career at Arthur Young, becoming a partner in 1963, managing partner in 1981 and chairman in 1985. He became a Co-Chief Executive of Ernst and Young in 1989 after playing a key role in the merger of Arthur Young & Company with Ernst and Whinney.
In 1970, he graduated from the Harvard University Advanced Management Program, and in 1992, he received an Honorary Doctor of Law from Lehigh. At Lehigh, he endowed the William L. Gladstone Scholarship Fund in 1972 and was part of the campaign for endowment of the Arthur Young-William L. Gladstone section of the Lehigh Library Accounting Collection.
Another Capital Region pro sports franchise owner, Walter Robb, died of COVID-19-related causes at the age of 91 on March 23.
A research pioneer at General Electric and a philanthropist, Robb bought the Albany River Rats of the American Hockey League in 1998 and owned the team for 12 years. He also owned the arena football teams in Albany, the Conquest and the Firebirds.
CLARK REMEMBERED FONDLY
COVID-19 also claimed the life of long-time Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) official Ron Clark of Ballston Lake, who died at the age of 70 on April 23.
Clark refereed Capital District Youth Soccer League (CDYSL) games for the past 20 years, as well as high school and college games.
“Ron was always a quiet, unobtrusive official and I remember the first game that he ever refereed for me,” CDYSL president Roy Pfeil said, in a release from the ENYYSA. “I was a little apprehensive having an official that I never observed before doing an important game that I was coaching.
“As it turned out, we won the game and in the parking lot, he asked me if I had any feedback that I could give him regarding his performance. That was the first and only time that any official ever asked me that question. I simply chided Ron by saying ‘You brilliantly passed the test!’ He laughed, thanked me and we basically always had a friendly and cordial relationship ever since.”
Clark was a railroad electrician for 31 years, last working at the Amtrak facilities in Rensselaer, and was an Adirondack 46er, having hiked up all 46 of the Adirondack Mountains’ High Peaks.
He was the first secretary of Capital District Referee and had just retired as an assignor with the organization in February.
“Ron went over and above not just assigning, but he kept a very close eye on the young referees to make sure they were working or if not why, and what could he do to help them enjoy the experience,” CD-REF president Paul Bascomb said. “Ron was in the very first class to be a certified mentor. He was always available to go and help mentor the young refs who wanted some experienced help with game control, parent control, to make their learning experience a positive one.
“His passing is a huge loss not just to CD-REF but also to the young officials that he had a passion for.”