As a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, I have tremendous respect for the O'Malley family. I think Walter O'Malley, the owner of the Dodgers from 1945-1979, was one of the greatest owners in the history of professional baseball. His son Peter, who owned the Dodgers from 1979-1998, was also a great team owner, and I've written about how I supported Peter O'Malley's group's bid to purchase the Dodgers earlier this year.
After being unsuccessful in his bid for the Dodgers, Peter O'Malley, along with several family members and other investors including pro golfer Phil Mickelson, have made a deal to buy the San Diego Padres.The $800 million deal looks like it's done, but is subject to approval by MLB and all the owners.
The O'Malley legacy
Dodgers' long-time owner Walter O'Malley was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 2008, and was the man who couldn't get a deal done to build a new stadium in Brooklyn, so he moved the team to Los Angeles in 1957 and created the Los Angeles Dodgers. I think his impact and influence is on the game of baseball, not just the Dodgers. O'Malley broke baseball's color line in 1947 when he had Jackie Robinson play for the team. O'Malley's Dodgers hired many African-American players early on in addition to Robinson, including icons Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe.
It was Walter O'Malley who developed the farm system MLB knows today and he also led the way in opening Dodger outposts in Latin American countries, allowing the team to develop and sign talent from a young age, which many teams do now.Walter O'Malley's son Peter took over the Dodgers in 1979 and owned the team until selling it to Fox in 1998. He continued the traditions his father started and even today, I feel the team still retains that close-knit family atmosphere with players, coaches and fans.
The Padres sold for $800 million, which includes $200 million in cash the team just received as part of their new broadcast deal with Fox Sports. It's also quite surprising to me, as it's less than half of what the Dodgers' new owners paid for that team ($2 billion). I think either the O'Malley's got a great deal on the Padres or Magic Johnson and his group overpaid for the Dodgers.
Will MLB approve?
It sure looks like it. Only last month, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig commented about the possibility to Yahoo! Sports, saying "San Diego fans deserve great ownership, and I think the O'Malley tradition in baseball is remarkable, this would be an excellent development for baseball."
What it means for Dodger fans
I think Peter O'Malley knows how to build a team and how to win championships. He also has an intimate knowledge of the Dodgers organization and how it works, even how the people in it think. I would worry a bit that the Padres would have too much knowledge, giving them an advantage over the Dodgers. I would also worry that an O'Malley-led Padres would improve overall as a team and be more of a threat to the Dodgers. Fortunately I don't see it as an issue this season, as the Padres are currently 13 games behind the second-place Dodgers in the NL West.
Freddy Sherman grew up in Philadelphia, which didn't make being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan easy. He has lived in Los Angeles for twenty years, now able to follow the Dodgers openly and attends games frequently. You can follow him on Twitter -@thefredsherman.Dodgers Injury Update: Fan's Take