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The Last Sports Mogul

Excerpt 3: Ed Snider’s Bizarre Superstitions Connected to His Beloved Flyers

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Ed Snider, Philadelphia Flyers

Third in a series of excerpts from “Ed Snider: The Last Sports Mogul,” written by Alan Bass and published by Triumph Books. This excerpt on the Philadelphia Flyers’ co-founder is from Chapter 8.

While he continued to make a name for himself nationally through the expansion of his businesses, what kept him in the news locally was his continued passion for and commitment to the Philadelphia Flyers. Even winning two Stanley Cups and two Calder Cups did nothing but make him hungrier for more championships. That passion was on full display every night as he sat in his Spectrum superbox with friends, family, or other team executives — even if it manifested itself in silent, but deadly anger.

One new executive, who grew up a fan of the Canadiens, sat at one of his first Flyers games a section over from Snider’s box. When the Canadiens scored, he instinctively yelled, “Yeah!” before suddenly realizing his egregious error. He shot a glance toward Snider, hoping the chairman had not noticed, but it was much too late. Snider was staring daggers at his new hire, refusing to break for what felt like an hour. The executive quickly learned that you never cheer against Snider and his team, especially when you were a member of the organization. “If you’re in Philadelphia,” the employee recalled, “you root for the guy who butters your bread.”

‘Boss is in a fight’

His employees were far from the only ones subject to his wrath. At a game in Minnesota in the 1970s, Jack Williams was sitting next to Keith Allen. Suddenly, Allen tapped Williams on the shoulder and said, “Come on, let’s go.” Williams was confused. “Boss is in a fight,” Allen said, running down the aisle. Williams turned and, sure enough, Snider was causing a ruckus with some unruly Minnesota fans, who were chiding his team.

“Does this happen often?” Williams yelled to Allen as they were racing toward the situation.

“Sometimes,” Allen replied with a smile.

Snider’s love of success and fanatical need to win was surpassed only by his intense hatred of losing. While his children knew that you only asked for a raise in their allowance or a favor after a Flyers win, everyone in his orbit knew, or learned quickly, that you never, ever approached him with bad news after a Flyers loss.

… Another tic that affected the game-day experience for those close to Snider was his devout superstitious tendencies. It ranged from typical to completely unreasonable. Snider would refuse to walk under ladders and insisted that everyone walk on the same side of an arena column (as opposed to one walking on each side simultaneously). … Snider’s superstitions during Flyers games were even more legendary, if not ridiculous. If you were sitting in a certain spot and the Flyers scored, you absolutely were not allowed to move for the rest of the game. If you moved or did something unusual shortly before the Flyers gave up a goal, you received the Snider glare. One family member even remembers being forced to stay in the bathroom for an extended period after the Flyers scored when they went to relieve themselves. In typical Snider style, he did anything to gain an edge — even if it was irrational.

Excerpt 1: Flyers Co-Founder Ed Snider is ‘The Last Sports Mogul.’

Excerpt 2: Ed Snider, Future Flyers Owner, Discovers Hockey.

“Ed Snider: The Last Sports Mogul” is available here. It is also available at local Barnes & Noble stores.

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