James “Ike” Bearinger, born July 12, 1900, was often called Saginaw’s “Mr. Baseball” for bringing professional baseball back to Saginaw in 1940 after a lapse of many years. The name “Bearinger” was one of the foremost in business and social circles in old East Saginaw of the lumber era. The family fortune came from lumber, real estate and his father’s other far-reaching business interests, but he held a national reputation for his baseball endeavors.

The owner of the Bearinger Building was the prime mover in organizing the Central Baseball League where he owned and operated the Saginaw White Sox (1940-41) and the Saginaw Bears (1948-50). Bearinger was a dominate figure on the Saginaw sports scene. His principal interest was in baseball, but he was a fine golfer and also played baseball and softball. He attended Saginaw Public Schools, including Saginaw High School, but left in the 10 th grade to attend Military School in Mobile, Ala. As a youth, he was a great favorite of “Ducky” Holmes, manager of the Saginaw Ducks of the former Southern Michigan League. Homes indulged the then 13-year-old “Bearinger Kid” by occasionally allowing him to pitch batting practice. Bearinger was one of the city’s best golfers and represented Saginaw Country Club in some of the state’s top tournaments. When softball came into prominence in the 1930’s he organized the Bearinger Wildcats. Besides a long and active membership in the Saginaw Country Club, serving once as a director and treasurer, he also was a member of the Kiwanis Club and Saginaw Elks Lodge and was a life member of Saginaw Gun Club. Besides his leading role in the organization of the Central Baseball League, which he served as vice-president, Bearinger organized the Saginaw Stadium Corporation which built the city-owned Veterans Memorial Stadium. He operated the Saginaw Bears until 1950, when he sold it to a Saginaw syndicate. He died August 19, 1957, and is entombed in the family mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery.