Bringing Back the Washington Nationals
Theodore Nathan Lerner (1925-2023) was born in Washington, D.C. to a family of Orthodox Jewish immigrants. He went to public school and his favourite pastime was baseball. He would sell newspapers as a child to get just enough money to afford a bus ride to the local stadium and buy an entrance ticket (a total of 28 cents). After serving in the army during World War II, Lerner returned to the US and enrolled at George Washington University (with a scholarship from the “G.I. Bill” for veterans). He went on to law school but became more interested in real estate. As a young man in 1952, he founded his own real estate development company starting with just $250. Lerner worked tirelessly, often 18 hours a day. He said that he would only take time off for Jewish holidays, and the occasional ball game. He went from developing small homes to larger apartment buildings, and then to massive commercial enterprises. Some of his most famous projects are Chelsea Piers in New York City and Tysons Corner in Washington (the area’s first indoor shopping mall, and still one of the largest in the whole country). All in all, Lerner Enterprises developed more than 20 million square feet of residential and commercial spaces, and Lerner became the richest man in Maryland. In 2002, the Montreal Expos baseball team went up for sale, and Lerner knew he had to bring the team to Washington. He ended up outbidding all the other contenders to resurrect the Washington Nationals. Lerner retired in 2018, and the following year the Nationals won the World Series, fulfilling Lerner’s childhood dream. Lerner was a generous philanthropist, and donated large sums regularly to hospitals and charities, to numerous Jewish schools, as well as to Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute in Israel. Sadly, Lerner passed away last month.
Words of the Week
The Jew is not a burden on the charities of the state or of the city; these could cease from their functions without affecting him. When he is well enough, he works; when he is incapacitated, his own people take care of him. And not in a poor and stingy way, but with a fine and large benevolence. His race is entitled to be called the most benevolent of all races of men.
– Mark Twain