Joseph J. Lannin was born on April 23, 1866 in Lac Beauport, Quebec, Canada, the son of Irish immigrants.
Orphaned at the age of 14, Joseph Lannin migrated with the flood of French-Canadians from Quebec seeking work in the booming textile mills of New England. However, arriving in Boston, Massachusetts the ambitious young man chose to work as a hotel bellman. Although he had limited education, Lannin was personable and possessed a quick mind. He soon learned about real estate and the commodities market by listening to the conversations of the wealthy patrons at his hotel and taking advice from those who were willing to share their insights with him.
A confident and knowledgeable Joseph Lannin invested his savings in the commodities market, making a small fortune. From there he began to acquire other businesses and eventually built an empire of hotels, apartment buildings, and golf courses.
In 1914 he purchased the Boston Red Sox baseball team and in that same year he purchased the rights to bring Babe Ruth to Boston resulting in his team winning the World Series in 1915 and 1916.
Joseph Lannin sold the team in 1917 to Harry Frazee for $200,000. The "astute" Frazee in turn recovered a large part of the purchase price by selling Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for the then astounding amount of $125,000. The Curse of the Bambino has haunted the team ever since the deal and the Boston Red Sox have not won another World Series.
With profit made from the sale of his team, Mr. Lannin continued to invest in real estate ventures in Boston and across New York State. He acquired Roosevelt Airfield where Charles Lindbergh began his historic transatlantic flight. Lannin provided Lindbergh with a room at his nearby hotel and watched the takeoff from Roosevelt Airfield on May 20, 1927.
Never forgetting his impoverished beginnings, Joseph Lannin became a large benefactor to his community until his death on May 15, 1928. He is interred at the Holyrood Cemetery, Garden City, Long Island, New York.