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William Shea, lawyer who brought Mets to New York, dead at 84

NEW YORK -- William A. Shea, the high-powered lawyer best known for leading the drive that brought the Mets to New York and for whom the team's stadium is named, has died at the age of 84, his law firm said Thursday.

As chairman of Mayor Robert Wagner's Baseball Committee, created in 1957, Shea was the driving force behind the formation of the New York Mets and the return of National League baseball to the Big Apple after a four-year absence.

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In return, the Mets named their home turf Shea Stadium.

Officials with his law firm, Shea & Gould, said he died in his sleep of natural causes Wednesday night at his apartment on West 54th Street.

A graduate of the New York City public school system, Shea attended New York University, Georgetown College and Georgetown Law School.

After two years working as a lawyer in New York, he was appointed to the first of many public positions in 1934, when he was named counsel to the Liquidation Bureau of the state Banking Department.

A year later, he became assistant general counsel to the state Superintendant of Insurance.

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In 1941 he formed his own law firm, Tucker & Shea, and after several mergers with other firms over the years, the firm of Shea, Gallop, Climenko and Gould was formed in 1964.

In 1976, the firm's name was changed to Shea & Gould.

Shea served on the state Insurance Board and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson appointed him as a member of the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy, and in 1980, President Jimmy Carter named him to the Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Education.

Shea also was director of the New York World's Fair Corporation in 1964-65, a trustee on the board of East Brooklyn Savings Banks, which later became CrossLand Savings Bank, and was a former president of the Federal Bar Association.

Wagner formed a Baseball Committee after the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants left New York in 1958 for California.

Funeral services were to be private. A memorial service was scheduled for Oct. 9 at St. Ignatius Church in New York.

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