CHICAGO – One of the most influential businessmen in Chicago history has died.
Andrew McKenna, a former chairman of McDonalds, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox and a part owner of the Chicago Bears, died at the age of 93 on Tuesday, the NFL team announced.
“This afternoon we lost a friend of more than 40 years to our family and the Bears. Few people have had a larger impact on our great city,” Bears chairman George McCaskey said in a statement. “Andy spent his life dedicated to institutions across sports, media, museums, academia, health care and more sharing his insights and leadership. His guidance helped us make sound business decisions, most recently with our selection of Kevin Warren as our next President & CEO. We are grateful for his many contributions to the Bears and his wisdom will be missed. Our prayers are with his family.”
McKenna was a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the DePaul University College of Law and began his career in sports by running a baseball team in Michigan City, Indiana that was part of the Midwest League.
In 1975, McKenna was part of the group with Bill Veeck that bought the Chicago White Sox, and he worked as the chairman of the franchise until it was sold in 1981.
After that, the executive went across town and became the Cubs’ chairman after they were purchased by the Tribune Company. McKenna was in that position with the club from 1981 through early 1985, including the Cubs’ 1984 Eastern Division championship, the team’s first playoff berth since 1945.
“As one of Chicago’s most dynamic and influential business leaders, Andy is the only person to ever serve as team chairman of both the Cubs and White Sox. Andy’s success with the Cubs included helping to steer the team to the N.L East Division title in 1984, the club’s first playoff berth since 1945, bringing joy to generations of Cubs fans,” the Cubs said in a statement on Wednesday morning. “Beyond his many contributions and achievements in Chicago sports, Andy, a lifelong Chicagoan, also dedicated his life to service and leadership in Chicago’s civic and philanthropic community, giving his time to several boards and causes, as well as the countless people he mentored over the years. He will be missed, but his impact in this city will continue to be felt by many. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
More recently, McKenna was the chairman of McDonald’s from 2004 through 2016 and served as chairman emeritus after that.
He was also an informal advisor to Mayor Richard M. Daley.
But one of his most memorable legacies involved WGN and baseball broadcasting. In 1981 Harry Caray became a “free agent” and made a call to McKenna who was chairman of the Cubs.