Selig appoints Tom Schieffer to run the Dodgers

Tim Brown
Yahoo! Sports

Tom Schieffer, former Texas Rangers president and U.S. ambassador to Australia and Japan, will oversee operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers for Major League Baseball, the league announced Monday.

Schieffer, 63, ran the day-to-day operations of the Rangers from 1991-99, a period viewed as the most successful in franchise history, when it qualified for the playoffs three times, set attendance records and built and moved into the Ballpark in Arlington.

The commissioner’s office notified the Dodgers late Monday morning of the appointment, but was unsure when Schieffer would arrive.

Commissioner Bud Selig seized control of the Dodgers on Wednesday, when he cited deep concerns for the financial condition of the organization under debt-ridden owner Frank McCourt. McCourt could choose to challenge Selig’s authority in court, though sources close to McCourt say he hasn’t yet made that decision.

Those who worked under Schieffer in Texas describe him as a passionate baseball fan, who rarely missed a game from his seat near the Rangers’ dugout. As president of the club, he was a decisive leader who held his employees to high – but fair – standards. He also worked well with local municipalities, forming solid relationships that still exist today.

“I think he’s a great choice,” said one former employee. “He’s very respected and did a really great job running the day-to-day here.”

Schieffer loved challenges, a quality that worked for him in Japan and with the historically uncompetitive Rangers and certainly should work for him in Los Angeles, where he’ll find a receptive public but likely a cool Dodgers’ front office. McCourt’s new vice chairman – Steve Soboroff – referred last week to the yet unidentified trustee derisively, as the “magic man” and the “Wizard of Oz.”

Turns out, Soboroff and Schieffer have something in common. Schieffer, who served three terms in the Texas House of Representatives, was a failed Texas gubernatorial candidate in 2009. Eight years earlier, Soboroff finished third in a Los Angeles mayoral primary race. Schieffer ran as a democrat, however, Soboroff as a Republican.

Schieffer left the Rangers in 1999, shortly after Tom Hicks purchased the club. Last summer, baseball stepped in to guide the Rangers through bankruptcy and, eventually, the sale to a group headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan.

“We are very fortunate to have someone of Tom Schieffer’s stature monitor the operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers on behalf of Major League Baseball,” Selig said in a statement. “… The many years that he spent managing the operations of a successful franchise will benefit the Dodgers and Major League Baseball as a whole.”

At a time of apparent organizational chaos, Schieffer will take over all financial and day-to-day business operations of the Dodgers and presumably lead baseball’s investigation into McCourt’s business practices. Suffering from cash-flow problems, due in part to his costly divorce, McCourt recently took a $30 million personal loan from Fox in order to meet the first payroll of the season. Also, it appears attempts to reach a divorce settlement with Jamie McCourt have fallen through, which likely will result in a trial, creating more potential volatility.

Many view Selig’s recent action as an attempt to rebuild the Dodgers’ structural and economic stability until he can force McCourt to sell, and view the appointment of Schieffer – a lawyer and politician who is closely tied to the old guard of baseball – as proof of that.

“They are clearly looking for new ownership,” said a person with a long association with Major League Baseball. “McCourt will not be getting any open shots with Schieffer there. He won’t be able to spot up for a three-pointer without someone in his face. Schieffer knows how to operate and knows how to play the game and knows how to play the legal issues.”

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