Walter Briggs, Sr.

Businessperson, Deceased Person

1877 – 1952


Who was Walter Briggs, Sr.?

Walter Owen Briggs, Sr. was an American entrepreneur and professional sports owner. He was part-owner of the Detroit Tigers in Major League Baseball from 1919 to 1935, and then sole owner from 1935 to his death in 1952. Briggs also helped found the Detroit Zoo in 1928, and personally paid for many of its first exhibits. He was also a patron of Eastern Michigan University and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Briggs was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan and grew up a Detroit Tigers fan. In his early youth he worked at the Michigan Central Railroad and later opened Briggs Manufacturing Company in 1908, which specialized in the manufacturing of automobile bodies for the auto industry and later diversified into plumbing fixtures.

After the death of Tigers' part-owner Bill Yawkey in 1919, surviving partner Frank Navin arranged for Briggs to buy a 25 percent stake in the club. He later bought enough stock to become a full partner with Navin, though he stayed in the background while Navin was alive. After Navin died in 1935, Briggs became the sole owner of the franchise.

As owner, among Briggs' first actions was completing major renovation and expansion plans to Navin Field. He double-decked the grandstand and converted the park into a bowl. It reopened in 1938 as Briggs Stadium, with a seating capacity of 58,000. The stadium was later renamed Tiger Stadium.

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Feb 27, 1877
  • United States of America
Lived in
  • Ypsilanti
Jan 17, 1952

on July 23, 2013


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