WITH THE ANGELS: A general view of the exterior of Anaheim Stadium, circa 1989, where the late Tom Liegler was a denizen. (Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Native Mentored Many

A longtime Angels fan, Thomas Fagan Liegler is soaring among them.

Liegler, 94, a respected industry veteran in public arena and stadium management, died on Feb. 20 from natural causes at his home in Palm Springs, California. He would have turned 95 on March 24.

A deeply devoted family man, Liegler married Joyce Langmade in January 1955 and shortly after began his career with the Waterloo Whitehawks, the Triple A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. The couple spent their honeymoon preparing the White Sox spring training facility in Florida.

It was an early indication of how Liegler would balance his passions for work, baseball and family while earning the admiration of everyone who knew him.

Chris Bigelow, president of Bigelow Consulting, met Liegler early in his own career while he was working for a concession company. “What I appreciated, especially as a young guy coming up in the business, he would take time to sit down with you and talk to you. Tell you what he liked, what he didn’t like. He always had a positive comment and was interested in what you had to say. For someone with his background, it really meant a lot.”

Liegler eventually moved into the management suite of the White Sox, focusing on stadium operations. In 1962, he was hired by the Houston Colt 45’s baseball team, and became a central figure in the club’s transformation into the Houston Astros and the building of the world-famous Astrodome.

In 1965 he was lured west by Gene Autry, owner of the then Los Angeles Angels, to oversee the design and construction of the team’s new home, Anaheim Stadium. For more than 20 years, as Anaheim and Disneyland helped make Orange County one of the world’s leading destinations for vacations, conventions and sporting events,  Liegler directed operations at the stadium, the Anaheim Convention Center and the city’s two golf courses.

Later in his career, he worked around the globe as a consultant on stadium and convention center projects in San Diego, California, Ontario, Canada, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sydney, Australia, and Paris, France.

“He had a big impact on the industry and giving back, big on education and having the buildings work together,” said Bigelow, citing Liegler’s early contributions to the Convention Center Manager Association and finding ways to turn suppliers into partners.   

Liegler was born in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1928. He enlisted in the Navy in May 1945 at the end of WWII and was stationed at an airlift base in Oakland, California. After serving, he enrolled at Grinnell College in Iowa, where he joined the football and debate teams while earning a bachelor’s degree in Euthenics.

Liegler is survived by his son Scott Liegler (Hilary), daughter Tracy Albrecht (Lance) and son-in-law Terry London, as well as grandchildren Laura, Lindsay, Emma, Mhairi and Spencer. He was preceded in death by his wife Joyce and his daughter Teri. He will be buried next to Joyce at Ascension Cemetery in Lake Forest, California, at a date to be determined.