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January 24, 2016

PIONEER PASSES
Former MISL Commissioner Earl Foreman was 92
By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

 

Earl Foreman, who was one of the original owners in what became the North American Soccer League, and who founded the Major Indoor Soccer League died on Tuesday at the age of 92.

A successful Washington D.C. attorney, Foreman spent most of his life in and around sports, as a minority owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, owner of the American Basketball Association's Virginia Squires, and owner of the Washington Whips who played first in the United Soccer Association and then the North American Soccer League.

But it was as a founder, along with Ed Tepper, and commissioner of the Major Indoor Soccer League that Foreman made his biggest mark.

After seeing a game at the Philadelphia Spectrum, which was owned by his brother-in-law Ed Snider, Foreman and Tepper decided the indoor game was better suited to American tastes, and thus the MISL, with its lazer light shows and high scoring games was born.

Foreman served as the league's commissioner from 1978 until 1985, seeing the league grow from its original six franchises to 14. He later returned for a one year stint as commissioner as the league was on its last legs during the 1991-92 season, when in anticipation of moving outdoors, changed its name to Major Soccer League. Although Foreman was part of the committee formulating Division I standards ahead of the 1994 World Cup, the MISL didn't survive to be a part of the new structure.

Foreman's involvement in professional sports began in 1964 when he became a part owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. Later that same year, he and two partners purchased the National Basketball Association's Washington Bullets. Four years later, he sold both clubs, and with a group of associates headed by Jack Kent Cooke, founded the United Soccer League. After one season, the league merged with the National Professional Soccer League to form the NASL. The Whips played two seasons in the league before folding.

After a brief time out of sports, Foreman purchased the American Basketball Association's Oakland Oaks, and moved them first to Washington and then to Virginia where they became the Squires. Among his signings were Julius Erving and George Gervin. Foreman sold the Squires after the 1972-73 season to concentrate on the Spectrum, which he purchased with Snider, eventually selling his interest in 1974.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis, and their sons Scott, Ronaldand Stuart; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

   
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