Joe Torre has resigned his post with Major League Baseball in order to join a group trying to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Since February, Torre had been responsible for major league operations, on-the-field operations, on-the-field discipline and umpiring. MLB announced his resignation this morning.
Torre’s entry sets up an all-star matchup of potential buyers, with former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson joining Stan Kasten’s Guggenheim bidding group. Two former Dodgers stars, Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser, are involved in another group and still another is led by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
“I am so appreciative of the chance the Commissioner gave me to see the game from a different perspective by working for Major League Baseball, especially during such a great time for our sport,” Torre said in a statement released by MLB.
“I have made this decision because of a unique chance to join a group that plans to bid for the Dodgers. After leaving the field, this job was an incredible experience, one that I enjoyed very much. I want to thank the Commissioner and all of my colleagues over the last year, particularly the members of the Baseball Operations group and the Major League Umpires.”
Torre would be an important addition to any group bidding to get the team from Frank McCourt out of federal bankruptcy court. Besides his institutional knowledge of MLB, he is a former player as well as a highly successful manager. In addition to McCourt’s embarrassing financial woes, the Dodgers also took a major public-relations hit last spring when a San Francisco Giants fan was beaten outside Dodger Stadium.
Torre joins a group headed by Rick Caruso, a real-estate developer.
“In Rick I found a partner who understands consumers and fully appreciates that the Dodgers are a treasured LA institution,” Torre said in a statement. “Since moving to Los Angeles, I have seen firsthand Rick’s dedication to business and the people of Los Angeles.”
Initial bids must be submitted by Jan. 23 with the Blackstone Group, McCourt’s investment banker. The price is expected to top the record $845 million the Ricketts family paid for the Chicago Cubs in 2009.
Torre, 71, managed the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees and Dodgers. His Yankees teams won the World Series four times from 1996-2000. He managed the Dodgers for three seasons and won 2,326 games as a manager.
If Magic Johnson’s comments are any guide, Torre’s group will face an enthusiastic opponent.
“I am so hyped, I'm ready to start right now,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke. “The Dodgers have been so important to this community for so many years, for so many reasons. I've lived through it all like everyone else and I want to make them great again.”
Johnson recently sold his stake in the Lakers.
“The Dodgers are my next big thing,” Johnson said. “This is not just millions of my money, this is dear to my heart. This is bringing back the brand for the people of Los Angeles.”
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