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    12.10.15 William Gladstone ’55 Crowned King of Baseball
    William Gladstone
    Photo credit: The National Baseball Hall of Fame

    William Gladstone ’55, former co-chief executive of Ernst & Young (E&Y) and current president and principal owner of the Tri-City ValleyCats (the Troy, N.Y.–based Class A affiliate of the Houston Astros), has been named the 2015 King of Baseball for his longtime dedication and service to the sport. He received the award in early December at the Baseball Winter Meeting Banquet in Nashville, Tenn.

    “Winning this award was a great honor, of which I’m very proud, and winning three New York–Penn League championships over the years has been exciting,” Gladstone said. “But for me, the highlight of owning the ValleyCats is watching the team play and seeing some of our players continue up to the major leagues. My wife and I go to every home game.”

    He and his wife, Millie, who were set up by a mutual friend in Brooklyn, have been married for 62 years. “She’s a baseball fan, too,” Gladstone said. “She has always been a great support to me, and I can’t thank her enough, as well as my son and my daughter and my five granddaughters.”

    Gladstone knows a few things about partnerships—personally and professionally—having overseen the merger in 1989 between Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young & Company, where he served as chairman. That groundbreaking transaction created the world’s largest accounting firm at the time. Today, Ernst & Young remains one of the world’s leading professional services firms and one of the “Big Four” audit firms.

    Except for his tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, Gladstone spent his entire career at the company. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Lehigh University in 1951, Arthur Young & Company offered him a job. While working full time, he attended Brooklyn Law School in the evenings.

    “I wasn’t sure what the future of accounting would hold for me, so I thought it would be smart to become a lawyer and have some flexibility,” Gladstone recounted. 

    After attaining his law degree, he quickly rose in the ranks at Arthur Young, becoming a partner in 1963, managing partner in 1981, and chairman in 1985. Gladstone served as co-CEO with Ray Groves at the newly formed E&Y. The two men remain close friends today.

    “As co-CEOs, the key was really trusting each other and not second guessing the other fellow. When you have big responsibilities, like we did at the time of the merger and following it, it’s critical to be knowledgeable about all aspects of the business—that’s how people respect you, when you know what they know and more. Listening is also important, but the most significant thing is having trust at the highest levels of the organization.”

    Gladstone retired from E&Y in 1991 and has since focused on his love of baseball. He serves as a member of the board at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., and was on the board of Minor League Baseball for 12 years. He and his wife have built one of the world’s most important collections of baseball artifacts, paintings, and folk art. And as the owner of the ValleyCats, he worked with the state to build a new stadium on the grounds of Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y., that has since set numerous attendance records.

    “Games start in the middle of June and run until early September,” Gladstone said. “We don’t spend our whole life at the ball park, but watching the team play certainly accounts for our summer plans.”

    During the off-season, Gladstone enjoys spending time with his family in the Boston area and traveling with his wife. He has seen much of the world in his travels—citing London and Paris as his favorite cities, with Egypt as the most fascinating place he has visited.

    “Success didn’t come quickly for me. My starting salary was just $3,300,” Gladstone said. “You really have to work hard, be prepared, use good judgement, and be fair. It’s important to distinguish yourself by just doing a good job and being devoted to it.”