Do you think that you are too old to become the founder of the most successful fast food operation in the world, and even the owner of a major league team?
Well, one person fit that description. If you haven’t figured it out, it’s Ray Kroc. Yes, that Ray Kroc, who started McDonald’s (the first one was in San Bernardino, California), and later filled a lifelong dream by buying a team. It was unfortunate that Kroc passed on just months before his San Diego Padres played in the 1984 World Series.
But it wasn’t until a chance meeting in 1954, with the McDonald brothers did his fortunes change. Kroc was selling Prime Castle Multi-Mixers when he was visiting a San Bernardino store that had purchased eight of the mixers. When he saw how the mixers were being used, he was convinced that the small store, McDonald’s, had the potential to expand throughout the United States. He quit his mixer job and joined the McDonald’s team. However, the McDonald brothers did not have the same drive and vision as did Kroc, which frustrated him. He went on to buy out the two brothers in 1961 for $2.7 million, a pretty fair sum of money in 1961. That sum of money was enough to pay each of the two brothers a million dollars after taxes. Even through the negotiations between the parties had its hiccups, Kroc now had his company, as well as the name.
And you know the rest, or maybe you think you do.
But, did you know that when Kroc first started on his own that he hired someone to run his office. You might call her a Jill-of-all-trades. She was offered either $100 a week or 10 percent of the business. Well, at that time, $100 a week was a fairly paltry sum, but she chose the ownership choice instead. Very smart on her part. Her part is now worth well of over a half billion, not million, billion dollars today.
But Ray Kroc was not done.
There’s an old saying that “The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys” Well, there is no better example than with Ray Kroc.
Kroc was even quoted as saying that “There’s more fortune in hamburgers than baseball.” How true.
He was never at a loss of words. During the first home game as owner of the Padres, April 9, 1974, he took the public address microphone and told the 39,000 fans that he had never seen such stupid ball playing in his life. He might have been right, as the Padres lost that game to the Houston Astros, 9-5.
Putting aside Big Macs and homeruns, there is even Ray Kroc memorabilia. Now, I’m not referring to McDonald toys, which are very collectible and the subject of a future column.
No, I mean of the man himself. For example, a single-signed baseball with the signature of Ray A Kroc, sold for a shade over four hundred dollars in May 2013. Pretty Cool. I’m wondering if you file that under “owners,” or “hamburgers,” or “self-made success stories?”
Another item that sold for nearly six hundred dollars in 2011, was a first day cover that both he and Harland Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, signed. The cover commented the life of the famed financer Andrew Mellon.
On second thought, maybe the owner of the Kroc-signed baseball filed it under “over fifty-year-old visionaries who founded one of the most successful companies in the history of the world.”
That would be a pretty elite group, wouldn’t you say? Hm……
Jeff Figler has authored more than 700 published articles about collecting. He is a certified professional appraiser and one of the world’s leading experts on collectibles. His latest book, “The Picker’s Pocket Guide to Baseball Memorabilia” has been #1 on Amazon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.