1961 ATHLETIC ADMINISTRATION INDUCTEE
Fresno was a small, young town when Del E. Webb was born in 1899. He learned carpentry as a hobby, but like many young boys of the time, he developed a love for the game of baseball. Webb was born into a family of means, but before Del had completed his freshman year in high school, his father’s company developed financial problems. He was forced to drop out of school and become a carpenter’s apprentice. He still yearned to become a professional baseball player and only agreed to work for carpentry companies that fielded a baseball team. In 1927 at twenty-eight, Webb contracted typhoid fever. He reluctantly agreed his dream of playing baseball had ended, so he put all his energy into carpentry.
On the advice of a friend, Webb and his wife, Hazel, moved to Phoenix, Arizona to recuperate. He reluctantly agreed his dream of playing baseball had ended, so he put all his energy into carpentry. One year later, he founded his own company. Some of the employees that he hired worked for him for twenty years. His company was at the forefront of numerous defense contracts for the government and he worked on federal peace-time projects following the war. It was then that he met the eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes. Webb joined Hughes and his golfing buddies, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, along with Robert and Barry Goldwater for games of golf. With friends like that and Webb’s home-building reputation, it wasn’t long before he was receiving contracts in Arizona to build entire towns.
In 1945, the opportunity to invest in the game that he loved presented itself. Del with Dan Topping and Larry MacPhail purchased the New York Yankees. Before selling the storied franchise to CBS in 1964, the Webb-Topping Yankees they bought out MacPhail in 1947) had won fifteen American League pennants and ten World Series. Perhaps Webb’s best-known project opened on January 1, 1960. He had taken a cotton field and built Sun City, Arizona, a community designed exclusively for retired people. The opening attracted 100,000 people-five times more than he had hoped. Webb also came back to his hometown to design and build the Del Webb Building in downtown Fresno. Del E. Webb died in 1975 at the age of seventy-six.