Doug Verb calls Earl Foreman “the smartest guy I ever knew. Close to a genius.”
And for good reason.
Not only was Foreman a successful real estate attorney who was in on the ground floor of numerous projects, but he was a sports maven who had a hand in major sports like football and basketball, as well as lesser-known ones such as soccer.
That’s where Verb got to know Foreman, who passed away Jan. 23 at 92 at his longtime home in Chevy Chase, Md.
Besides being a part owner of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1960s with then-good friend Jerry Wolman, Foreman owned the American Basketball Association Oakland Oaks (later the Virginia Squires) and was co-owner of the NBA Washington Bullets.
And he served a decade as commissioner of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL), which was based in Bala Cynwyd.
“Ed Tepper [MISL founder and deputy commissioner] needed a partner who was experienced and knew that Earl had been involved with the Washington Whips of the North American Soccer League,” recalled Verb, who served as the MISL’s director of communications. “Earl had been involved in just about every sport except baseball on so many different levels.
“He did things which later became standard in all sports. I was pretty young then and didn’t know much about the business of sports. He was a tremendous role model and mentor to me. I always wish I’d listened to him more.”
Before coming to the MISL, Foreman and fellow Washingtonians Wolman and Ed Snider, his brother-in-law through his marriage to Snider’s sister, Phyllis, collaborated on various projects, including the purchase of the Eagles.
For his part in completing the deal, Foreman received a small percentage of the team, which he relinquished when trucking magnate Leonard Tose bought out the financially struggling Wolman.
But Foreman remained involved in Philadelphia sports, helping to get the Spectrum, where Snider’s Philadelphia Flyers were playing, out of receivership. “The building was being run by trustees of the bank,” said Lou Scheinfeld, a friend of Snider’s who later was installed as Spectrum president. “Earl came up with a plan to take it out of receivership. I became president, and it became one of the most successful buildings in the United States.”
“Earl was a prominent Washington attorney and a very astute guy,” Scheinfeld said. “He was well-respected and did a lot of major development deals.
“Jerry Wolman and Ed Snider introduced me to Earl back in the 1960s. Earl was Wolman’s lawyer. He had a great sense of human and was a charismatic, vibrant guy.”
Yet Foreman also had a demanding side.
“There’s a fine line between genius and being maniacal,” said Verb, president of Action Sports America in Las Vegas. “He expected things to be done in a certain way.
“But the league would not have happened without Earl. He was the one who brought new people in. After we doubled in size to 16 teams in the first few years, we were always juggling, keeping teams solvent and in markets. Earl had to do all of that in addition to dealing with the U.S. Soccer Federation because we were outlaws.
“He was the brains behind the whole organization.”
Foreman was inducted into the Greater Washington Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.
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