Ed Snider and Jerry Wolman founded the Flyers and were the best of friends.
But their relationship turned ugly and contentious.
Their feud — and the Flyers’ birth — has fascinated Adam F. Goldberg, who develops new projects for ABC Studios.
It’s very early in the process, but down the road, it could become a limited TV docudrama series.
When the venerable Spectrum was torn down 10 years ago, Snider was torn. Too many good memories in the old barn. He attended the tributes, then left before the wrecking ball hit because it was too painful to watch.
“Do it without me,” he told his public-relations whiz, Ike Richman, after the tributes ended.
“We can’t,” Richman said. “This is your baby.”
Snider: “I can’t watch.”
And off he went, refusing to witness the bricks topple.
The Spectrum and the Flyers were like Snider’s kids. He had been there for their births, been there for the highs (the Stanley Cup clincher in 1974) and the lows (sections of the roof blowing off, twice, in 1967-68).
Wolman had been there at the outset, too. But he and Snider soon became bitter enemies and they parted ways.
In 2009, the always-fiery Snider was asked if Wolman would be invited to the Spectrum’s implosion ceremony, which occurred the next year.
“Yeah,” Snider told the Daily News’ Stan Hochman, “if he’s inside the building!”
And, so, yes, the dynamics of the situation have piqued Goldberg’s interest. If the series is created, it would probably be based on an intriguing chapter on the Snider-Wolman feud written by Lou Scheinfeld, the man who named the Spectrum, in his still-to-be-published book, On Thin Ice.
Scheinfeld’s book is a heartfelt tale of the Spectrum and how it came to be and what it represented. He has stories from the Broad Street Bullies to Kate Smith to Frank Sinatra, from Dr. J to Springsteen to Elvis, from Frank Rizzo to the Philly mob to Mick Jagger.
The Snider-Wolman relationship is center stage.
As the first vice president in the history of the Flyers and the Spectrum, Scheinfeld was privy to the bickering that finally caused their breakup. The seeds were planted when Snider, who had been the Eagles’ vice president and treasurer, was fired by the Birds’ owner, Wolman, on the night of the Flyers’ first-ever home game in 1967.
Recently, Scheinfeld and Craig Snider, one of Ed’s sons, traveled to California to meet with Goldberg about the project. Wolman died in 2013, and Snider in 2016.
Goldberg has orange and black in his veins. He grew up in Jenkintown as a diehard Flyers fan, and his love for the team is evident in the popular ABC series he created, The Goldbergs, which frequently has some family members wearing Flyers jerseys or T-shirts. On occasion, the show revolves around the Flyers.
It’s much too early to even discuss the prospect of turning the Snider-Wolman situation into a TV docudrama, which is why Goldberg declined to comment.
Getting a network to back (read: finance) a series is a gargantuan task filled with red tape.
Even if the series is never made, Scheinfeld’s coming book gives a first-hand account that never has been told. and is a must-read for longtime Flyers fans.
“I watched from an uncomfortable front-row seat as the Wolman-Snider friendship deteriorated into all-out war,” Scheinfeld wrote in On Thin Ice.
Wolman began losing cash because his construction of the John Hancock Tower in Chicago had a faulty foundation. He put more than $20 million of his money ($160 million in 2020 figures) into it, Scheinfeld wrote.
Cash-strapped Wolman dangled a $43 million package of assets to an Arab sheik, according to Scheinfeld. The package included the Flyers and the Spectrum.
Snider balked. Eventually, Snider and his brother-in-law, Earl Foreman, exchanged their shares of the Spectrum for Wolman’s shares of the Flyers.
Snider gradually became a multi-millionaire.
Wolman bought the Eagles in 1963 at age 36 and then became involved with the Flyers.
“I took him out of the gutter,” Wolman once told Hochman, “and he [expletive] me.”
Imagine Wolman’s pain as the Flyers, remarkably, took just seven years to win a Stanley Cup, attracting two million people to their championship parade.
Imagine the unbridled joy Snider felt as his franchise, which drew just 25 people to a welcoming “parade” before the franchise started in 1967, became known around the world.
Scheinfeld, a long-ago Daily News reporter and editor who is now spearheading the Museum of Sports in South Philadelphia, takes the reader behind the scenes, and it would be great theater if Goldberg is able to get the backing and share the story with viewers.