A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 31, 2015
“You can’t fire the owner” (sports adage)

"You can’t fire the owner” is an old sports adage. The coach can get fired, the players can get traded or released, but the owner runs the show.

“You can’t fire the owner” has been cited in print since at least 1969, when Bill Vaughan (1915-1977) used it in a satirical newspaper column.


11 October 1969, Omaha (NE) World-Herald, “Firing Manager a Sacrifical Rite” by Bill Vaughan, pg. 4, col. 3:
The reason we fire managers is that they failed to get the most out of the material, were either strict disciplinarians or weren’t, enforced the curfew or didn’t and, besides which, you can’t fire the owner.”

Google News Archive
5 January 1980, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), “Baltimore’s Jones needs a change of luck” by Joan Ryan, pg. 12, col. 5:
Bert Jones belongs in the Super Bowl. Robert Irsay belongs in Baltimore. If you can’t fire the owner, the next best thing to fight a case of bad luck is to move the quarterback.

Google News Archive
14 November 1988, Spokane (WA) Chronicle, “Rogers couldn’t figure how to make his Lions growl” by Mitch Albom, pg. C2, col. 1:
But you can’t fire the team, and you can’t fire the owner.

You fire the coach.

CBS—San Francisco Bay Area
Daily Madden: Who Says You Can’t Fire the Owner?
April 22, 2011 10:28 AM
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – John Madden used to say about pro sports teams that you can fire everyone except the owner. He told the KCBS morning crew Friday that Major League Baseball proved him wrong this week when commissioner Bud Selig announce the league was going to take over operation of the Los Angeles Dodgers from embattled owner Frank McCourt.

Madden said pro sports teams miss the “patriarchs” of the old days who managed their teams well and kept the franchise healthy. “That’s one of the things the NFL could use now,” Madden said. “I don’t know in any sport who the patriarch is anymore.”

Twitter
Karl Safchick
‏@KarlSafchick
@LaverneusDingle It all starts at the top. Unfortunately, you can’t fire the owner.
9:56 AM - 28 Aug 2015

The Courier (The Woodlands, TX)
Mashek: Robert Griffin III is clearly done in Washington, D.C.
Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2015 11:00 pm | Updated: 12:17 pm, Mon Aug 31, 2015.
Jim Mashek, sports editor
(...)
Daniel Snyder is the real problem, and the problem is, there is no solution. There’s an old saying in pro sports, that you can’t fire the owner, no matter how hard you try.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Monday, August 31, 2015 • Permalink