Chairman, Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox
National Advisory Board
During his 30-plus year tenure as chairman of the Chicago White Sox, Jerry Reinsdorf’s two professional sports teams – the White Sox and Chicago Bulls of the NBA – have delivered seven World Championship titles to the city of Chicago and its sports fans.
Fulfilling a dream that began as a baseball fan growing up in Brooklyn during the 1930s and 1940s, Reinsdorf accepted the Commissioner’s Trophy from Bud Selig on October 26, 2005, after the White Sox swept their way to the team’s first World Series Championship since 1917.
The championship was the first by a Chicago baseball team in 88 years and was celebrated by a ticker-tape parade, attended by nearly 2 million Chicagoans, that ran from U.S. Cellular Field through many of the city’s neighborhoods and finished in downtown Chicago. At the rally, first baseman Paul Konerko presented Reinsdorf with the ball from the final out of Game 4 of the World Series.
The White Sox have reached the postseason five times during Reinsdorf’s tenure, most recently in 2008 when they captured the American Central Division title in a one-game playoff. The Sox also claimed division titles in 1983, 1993, 2000 and 2005.
Reinsdorf will begin his 34th season as chairman of the White Sox in 2014, having passed club founder Charles Comiskey (1900-31) for the longest ownership tenure in franchise history. The Sox have gone 2,676-2,544 (.513) during Reinsdorf’s 33 seasons, and every one of the club’s Top 20 single-season attendance totals have come during Reinsdorf’s tenure, including a franchise-record 2.95 million fans in 2006.
Reinsdorf and the White Sox have received five prestigious honors over the past two years in recognition of the franchise’s ongoing commitment to giving back to the community. In June 2011, Reinsdorf travelled to Washington D.C. to accept the Jefferson Award, one of the nation’s top honors for community service and volunteerism, known as the “Nobel Prize for Public Service.” In August 2011, Reinsdorf received the Barnes and Thornburg Jackie Robinson Award for diversity in the workplace, and in November 2011, Reinsdorf and the White Sox were honored by Commissioner Bud Selig with the Commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence for the club’s Volunteer Corps. In September 2012, Reinsdorf and the White Sox were again recognized nationally, receiving the Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in sports philanthropy for the team’s Volunteer Corps program.
In response to President Barack Obama’s inauguration-day call to service, Reinsdorf and the White Sox created the White Sox Volunteer Corps in 2009 to support the Chicagoland community through service. The Corps, now consisting of staff, players and over 6,000 fan volunteers, has mobilized to provide more than 30,000 hours of community service during its five years of existence, including work renovating Chicago Public Schools, remodeling local Boys & Girls Clubs and donating time at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Both of Reinsdorf’s sports franchises have donated millions of dollars to causes in the Chicago community through a variety of efforts, including Chicago White Sox Charities and Chicago Bulls Charities. Chicago White Sox Charities has donated more than $6.8 million to Chicagoland organizations in the past five years, moving the team’s non-profit arm beyond $18 million in cumulative giving since its inception.
In July 2014 at U.S Cellular Field, the White Sox will host the sixth annual “Double Duty Classic,” a high school baseball All-Star Game featuring many of the nation’s top inner-city baseball players. The Classic, named for Negro League great Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, celebrates the community’s pride in the Negro League East-West All-Star Games, held annually at Comiskey Park in Chicago from the 1930s until the 1960s, while a symposium before the game teaches the players about the game’s history and importance.
In 2013, the Chicago White Sox hosted Major League Baseball’s annual Civil Rights Game, with informative panels, the Beacon Awards Luncheon and pregame festivities that celebrate baseball’s important role in the Civil Rights movement of this country.
During his career in professional sports, Reinsdorf has been responsible for the construction of two new sports facilities in Chicago, Comiskey Park (1991), now U.S. Cellular Field, and the United Center (1994). The White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers opened a state-of-the-art spring training complex, named Camelback Ranch — Glendale, in Phoenix in 2009. For much of the past decade, Reinsdorf, the White Sox and the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority have undertaken dramatic offseason renovations to U.S. Cellular Field with the goal of improving the ballpark experience for White Sox fans.
Since heading the limited partnership that purchased the Sox in January 1981, Reinsdorf has been involved in Major League Baseball initiatives at an industry-wide level. Currently, he is a member of Major League Baseball’s Executive Council and serves on the Boards of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, MLB Network, Major League Baseball Enterprises, Inc. and Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. He also serves on the Equal Opportunity, Labor Policy and New Media committees.
In the past he has served on many other committees, including Ownership, Player Relations, Relocation, Legislative and Long-Range Labor Planning. He was instrumental in the formation of the Diverse Business Partners (DBP) Program in 1998. Since then, Major League Baseball and its clubs have purchased hundreds of millions of dollars in goods and services from minority and women-owned businesses, and the White Sox annually rank among baseball’s leaders in the DBP program. In 2008, his long history of donating time to Major League Baseball led to Reinsdorf being asked to serve on the Board of The Baseball Hall of Fame.
Reinsdorf expanded his involvement in professional sports in March 1985 by purchasing controlling interest in the Chicago Bulls. During his tenure as chairman of the Bulls, the team has captured six World Championships (1991-93, ’96-98). In addition to initiating the building of new Comiskey Park, Reinsdorf spearheaded construction of two major facilities for the Bulls. The United Center, home for the Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks,opened for the 1994-95 season, and the Bulls began using the Sheri L. Berto Center, their training facility, in 1992. In 2013, the Bulls also announced plans to build a new practice facility in Chicago adjacent to the United Center.
Reinsdorf has played a critical role in the development of the west side area surrounding the United Center and was responsible for introducing an innovative reading program to the Chicago Public Schools. Through the Chicago Bulls/Sox Training Academy, which opened in 2001, and outreach efforts such as White Sox Training Centers and Chicago Bulls Basketball Schools, Reinsdorf’s franchises promote sports to thousands of youth each year while instilling a love of the game in future fans. Reinsdorf’s life-long support for charitable and community organizations has resulted in numerous other awards and recognitions.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on February 25, 1936, Reinsdorf graduated from George Washington University in Washington D.C. and earned a law degree from Northwestern University after moving to Chicago in 1957. Reinsdorf and his wife, Martyl, have four children and eight grandchildren.