NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Earl Foreman, the man who brought the Virginia Squires professional basketball team to Hampton Roads, has died, one of his sons said Tuesday.
Stuart M. Foreman confirmed his father’s death to The Associated Press by phone. Foreman, 92, died Monday from natural causes in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where he lived with his wife.
The Virginian-Pilot reports (http://bit.ly/2j2t4cp) that Foreman gave Hampton Roads its only taste of a major professional sports team in the early 1970s. The Squires were part of the American Basketball Association, which later merged with the National Basketball Association.
Foreman had taken the Squires from Washington, D.C., to Norfolk. They played there for six seasons before folding.
Foreman also had ownership stakes in other professional sports teams, including the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets. He co-founded the United Soccer League and served as commissioner of the Major Indoor Soccer League for 10 years.
Foreman is most remembered in Virginia for moving the ABA’s Squires to Virginia in 1970. The team was based in Norfolk but also played games in Hampton, Roanoke and Richmond.
The franchise had money troubles in Oakland, California, before Foreman purchased the team and moved it to Washington. Financial trouble also plagued the franchise in Washington, where it played one season, and later in Virginia.
“Financially, it was a disaster,” Foreman said in a 2014 Virginian-Pilot article.
But one of the minority owners, Gerald Friedman, recalled that “Earl was a magician” when it came to talent. That’s how he was able to attract future NBA stars George Gervin and Julius Erving.
After three seasons posting a .500 or better record, the Squires went 28-56 in 1973-74. Foreman began selling off his superstars. But he was unable to turn around the team financially, and a local ownership group took over operation of the team.
Two more awful seasons followed on the court and in the stands before the franchise folded in May 1976. Two weeks later, the ABA and NBA merged.
“All of those teams I have had wonderful relationships with but I’ve never had the feeling — and neither has my wife, Phyllis — that I had and continue to have with the players that we worked with on the Virginia Squires,” he told the Pilot in 2016. “We never felt more at home in any city than we ever did in Norfolk.”
He is survived by his wife, Phyllis; their sons, Scott, Ronald and Stuart; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
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