Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The McCourts and Dodgers' Future

It is too early to speculate what the impending divorce between owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie, who is the team's CEO, will have on the Dodgers, especially on both the club's front office operations, the manager and players and also the community.
But a look back at how divorce, death and financial ups and downs have affected Los Angeles' sports franchises could give baseball fans a glimpse of what may be on the horizon for their team.

The Rams: When Dan Reeves moved the Rams from Cleveland to Los Angeles in 1946, the team lost money in its first season in the Coliseum. The amount was $250,000, a large sum for the post-WWII era, and Reeves had to take on partners to help shore up the loss. Two of those partners were Edwin Pauley, the oil mogul, and comedian Bob Hope.

The Hollywood Stars: The old Pacific Coast League baseball team, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was run by Robert Cobb, who also owned the legendary Brown Derby restaurant. Cobb had a slew of partners that included Bing Crosby and George Raft. The Stars' last season in Gilmore Field was 1957, a year before they and the old minor league L.A. Angels were put out of business by the Dodgers move from Brooklyn.

The Lakers: To help pay for his divorce from his first wife of of 44 years, Jack Kent Cooke sold the basketball team, his beloved arena, the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood and the Kings hockey team to Dr. Jerry Buss in 1979. Buss kept the Lakers but after a few years parted from the money-losing Kings.

The Rams, Part II: In 1979, Georgia Rosenbloom became majority owner after her husband Carroll drowned in the ocean off their home in Golden Beach, Fla. In a messy family spat that played out on television and in the newspapers, Georgia fired her stepson Steve Rosenbloom, who was his father's right-hand man and expected to take over the daily operation of the team. Georgia also fired General Manager Don Klosterman and replaced him with Dick Steinberg, asserting herself as the person in charge.
The Rams played their final season in the Coliseum, lost in the Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and in the following year, took up residence in Anaheim Stadium.

The Dodgers: The treasured baseball franchise was the O'Malley family business until that type of ownership was not seen as financially feasible. Peter O'Malley sold the team to Rupert Murdoch and Fox News Corp. Fox executives, without consulting the team's general manager, settled a salary dispute with catcher Mike Piazza by trading him to the Florida Marlins in a multi-player deal. In return for their best player, the Dodgers acquired catcher Charles Johnson, a lifetime .220 hitter.

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