The Flyers are as much a part of Philadelphia as cheesesteaks and Rocky. In 1967, however, when the club was trying to secure loans to build an arena and get its operations up and running, giving money away seemed like a better idea to area banks than investing in a fledgling hockey franchise. Without Joe Scott’s business acumen and reputation, the Flyers might have become just another footnote in the city’s then dismal hockey history.
Prior to joining the Flyers, Joe Scott was a highly successful businessman, having founded and built Scott & Grauer into the largest beer distributorship in the world. Scott met Ed Snider, then a Vice President with the Philadelphia Eagles, during an advertising campaign with the club in the mid-1960s. It would prove to be more than a chance encounter. Soon thereafter, at age 58, Scott sold his interests in the distributorship and moved with his wife to Florida for a relaxing retirement.
As retirement was beginning to bore Scott, Snider was looking for another investor for the Flyers. The Flyers’ founder called Scott, who was intrigued by the offer. A long-time supporter of amateur athletics, Scott also was a regular at Rambler games, a minor league hockey team that once called Philadelphia home. In 1964, he nearly bought the club. Scott had already balked at Snider’s offer several months earlier. This time, however, the plan was to have three owners--Snider (60%), Bill Putnam (25%), and Scott (15%). The former beer distributor magnate agreed to come on board.
Scott was more than a minority investor. The Flyers needed a Philadelphian with a solid reputation in the business community. Scott, Snider hoped, was the savior no bank could turn away. That faith was tested through six loan rejections. The Flyers didn’t expect their luck to change with number seven--conservative Girard Bank. Girard’s president and vice president, however, were Harvard graduates who had been exposed to hockey in Boston. It was a tough sell, but the bank extended the Flyers a $1.5 million loan, ensuring that a team would be on the ice in the fall of 1967.
With at least one season assured, Scott put his energy in selling season tickets. He recruited college students to cold call people and corporations announcing the Flyers were in town. Scott devised ticket plan options to create a strong fan base. He made personal visits to practically every corporation he’d ever conducted business with. Scott also maneuvered the Flyers into the merchandising market, selling everything from pennants to pencils to pucks. While other teams struggled at the gate, the Flyers developed into a major attraction.
Scott has seen it all with the Flyers. Not surprisingly, his fondest memories recall the Stanley Cup years of 1974 and 1975. "One thing that stands out in my mind is Fred Shero," he said. "The type of man he was and the psychology he used on young players. Another thing that stands out is Bobby Clarke, being the leader of the team, maintaining the equilibrium of the team. Those two men stand out in my mind."
In 1984, Scott sold his interest to Snider but maintained the title of Chairman of the Board, Emeritus. In April 1993, he was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame.