Don Dinan, co-founder of Alexandria Aces, dies at 74

Don Dinan, co-founder of Alexandria Aces, dies at 74
Don Dinan in Cuba in 2016 for a trip with the Alexandria Aces. (Photo/Frank Frannon)

By James Matheson |

Donald Dinan, cofounder of the Alexandria Aces and longtime figure in Washington, D.C. politics, died January 29. He was 74.

A creative thinker and go-getter, Dinan found ways to get things done. A resident of Washington, D.C. since his graduation from Georgetown University Law Center in 1974, he saw an opportunity in Alexandria and capitalized on it.

The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League’s inaugural season was in 2005. Dinan saw the league as a passage to give back to the DMV area through something he loved.

“Don loved baseball and he loved helping student athletes,” Frank Fannon, president and owner of the Aces, said. “We’re proud to say we won our first league championship in 2022. We dedicated that first championship to him for bringing the team to Alexandria.”

Dinan served as owner and president of the Aces from 2008 to 2020 before passing the reins to Fannon. When at the helm, Dinan orchestrated memorable experiences for college ball players to travel overseas and play against elite competition.

In 2016, Dinan assembled a squad from the Cal Ripken Summer League and embarked on a five-day trip to Cuba. The team played three games against Cuban national teams.

“It was a wonderful experience having all the players go down to Cuba and it was a rare opportunity,” Fannon said. “Don’s going to really be missed. He had such a fascinating life and was involved in so many things, the Alexandria Aces were really just one chapter of his big picture.”

Dinan was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, and raised in Ellicott City, Maryland. He attended Mt. St. Joseph High School in Baltimore, where he met his future wife, Amy.

“Don was really proud of his brother and proud of his family and proud of his roots,” Fannon said. “He had a lot of ties to Maryland.”

Dinan went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania in 1971 and completed his law degree soon after.

“Don was probably one of the smartest people I’ve met, he knew a lot about everything,” Gary Adler, a longtime friend and colleague, said. “But in conjunction with that, he was also just a regular guy. It was a really nice combination: A really good person that loved to have fun.”

Dinan was also a fan of baseball outside of Alexandria. The lifelong Orioles fan would take friends to Baltimore to see games at Memorial Stadium and show them around his high school stomping grounds.

“Don loved baseball and he was a fan of every team in the American League East, that was what we always joked about,” Adler said. “We went to a lot of games together. He knew Baltimore really well, so we’d drive up when it was Memorial Stadium. He’d always find a way to find a shortcut.”

Throughout Dinan’s law career, he practiced in the fields of international trade and the protection of intellectual property. He taught a course on international trade law at Georgetown Law for over 30 years.

Dinan served on the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee and represented D.C. as a Super Delegate three times at the Democratic National Convention. He also served as president of the Ward Six Democrats and as General Counsel to the District’s Democratic State Committee.

“I would just sit there and listen to the knowledge that he had,” Fannon said of Dinan. “It’s a shame that we lost such a wonderful guy. Even though he lived 74 years, it seemed like it was still too short.”

In lieu of flowers, the Dinan family requests that donations be made in Dinan’s name to two of his Maryland ties: Mt. St. Joseph High School or The Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy.

Dinan is survived by his wife, Amy, his daughter, Emma Ellenrieder and husband Matthias, four siblings and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

A visitation will be held at DeVol Funeral Home from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. A funeral mass will be held at St. Peter’s Church at 9:30 a.m. on February 12. The service will be fol- lowed by an internment at Congressional Cemetery.