James Robert "Loafer" McAleer (July 10, 1864 – April 29, 1931) was an American center fielder, manager, and stockholder in Major League Baseball who assisted in establishing the American League. He spent most of his 13-season playing career with the Cleveland Spiders, and went on to manage the Cleveland Blues, St. Louis Browns, and Washington Senators. Shortly before his retirement, he became a major shareholder in the Boston Red Sox.
His career ended abruptly. During his brief tenure as co-owner of the Red Sox, McAleer quarreled with longtime friend and colleague Ban Johnson, president of the American League. In the wake of this disagreement, he sold off his shares in the Red Sox and broke off his relationship with Major League Baseball.
McAleer's rift with Johnson, along with his sudden retirement, damaged his professional reputation, and he received little recognition for his contributions to baseball. Today, he is most often remembered for initiating the customary request that the President of the United States throw out the first ball of the season.
By Dean Hanley
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