John W. Galbreath

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John W. Galbreath
BornAugust 10, 1897
DiedJuly 20, 1988(1988-07-20) (aged 90)
Building Contractor
Racehorse owner/breeder
Owner of Pittsburgh Pirates
Spouse(s)Helen Mauck (d.1946)
Dorothy B. Firestone (d. 1986)
ChildrenDaniel, Joan, Nancy

John Wilmer Galbreath (August 10, 1897 – July 20, 1988) was an American building contractor, sportsman and philanthropist.

Born in Derby, Ohio, he grew up in Mt. Sterling, Ohio. He graduated from Ohio University in 1922 and was a member of the Beta chapter of Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity. The non-denominational Galbreath Memorial Chapel on the Ohio University College Green was donated by Galbreath in memory of his first wife, Helen Mauck who died in 1946.

In 1955, he married Dorothy Bryan Firestone, widow of Russell A. Firestone of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.

John Galbreath made a fortune in commercial property development, building skyscrapers in the United States and abroad. However, he may be best known for his role in the Pittsburgh Pirates as the franchise's majority owner from 1950 through 1985, during which the Pirates won three world championships in 1960, 1971, and 1979. He was the first owner to break the so-called "Million Dollar Mark" when he signed Dave Parker to a multi-year contract in 1979. He also signed Hall of Fame player Roberto Clemente.

He graduated from Mount Sterling High School.

Thoroughbred horse racing[edit]

In 1935 John W. Galbreath founded Darby Dan Farm near the Darby Creek in Galloway, Ohio. In 1949 he purchased the 650-acre (2.6 km2) core property of Idle Hour Stock Farm in Kentucky and renamed it Darby Dan Farm.

Galbreath met his second wife Dorothy through Thoroughbred racing. She had been involved in the sport with her first husband and would be very active with Darby Dan breeding and racing. The Darby Dan Farm raced several champion horses. John Galbreath is one of only four men to have raced both a Kentucky Derby winner and an Epsom Derby winner. The others are Paul Mellon, Michael Tabor, and Prince Ahmed bin Salman.

In the early 1950s, he served as chairman of the Greater New York Association. During his time, he oversaw the construction of the new Aqueduct Racetrack and the extensive rebuilding of Belmont Park.

John Galbreath was voted the 1972 Big Sport of Turfdom Award by the Turf Publicists of America and in 1974 he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder.

Galbreath died in Galloway, Ohio, three weeks prior to his 91st birthday. Galbreath's death occurred five and a half weeks prior to the passing of Art Rooney, who founded the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1933 and owned the franchise for 55 years.

External links[edit]


  • July 21, 1988 New York Times obituary for John W. Galbreath
  • Bowen, Edward L. Legacies of the Turf: A Century of Great Thoroughbred Breeders (2003) Eclipse Press ISBN 978-1-58150-102-5
  • June 1, 1959 Sports Illustrated article titled The Man, The Horse And The Deal That Made History
  • 1988 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obituary