Friday, January 30, 2004

Owners approve sale of Dodgers to real estate developer for $430M

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - The $430 million sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers from News Corp. to Boston real estate developer Frank McCourt was unanimously approved Thursday by baseball owners.

"I intend to restore the glory days of Dodger baseball with a team worthy of support from our fans," McCourt said during a news conference at Dodger Stadium.

The price is the second-highest for a baseball team, trailing only the $660 million paid for the Boston Red Sox two years ago. The highly leveraged purchase, likely to be finalized within a week, probably will set off the third change in management in six years for the marquee franchise, which hasn't advanced to the playoffs since 1996.

"The Dodgers are one of our great franchises," commissioner Bud Selig said in a telephone interview. "We need stability there. We need a lot of energy. Having an unresolved ownership situation was, frankly, hurting the franchise."

News Corp. bought the team in March 1998 from the O'Malley family for $311 million. The corporation quickly tired of running the club, and former movie executive Robert Daly took over as chief executive officer in October 1999 after purchasing a minority stake.

Daly has said he will depart when the sale closes. The futures of team president Bob Graziano, general manager Dan Evans and manager Jim Tracy are uncertain.

URBINA CASE: Prosecutor Luisa Quevedo will decide within six months whether to charge Ugueth Urbina with a crime for firing a gun Jan. 23 in Caracas, Venezuela.

Police arrested the free-agent pitcher and his agent, Cesar Diaz, after the pitcher fired his gun outside the passenger window of a sports utility vehicle.

That same day, a judge ordered both men released, ruling there wasn't sufficient evidence to charge them with a crime.

Quevedo said Thursday that Venezuelan law allows her six months to continue investigating.

CUBS: Chicago general manager Jim Hendry will have surgery today after injuring his left leg in a fall at his home. Hendry slipped down a flight of stairs and tore the quadriceps muscle away from the patella tendon on his left knee, the team said.

SHORT HOPS: Shane Spencer returned to New York on Thursday, agreeing to a minor league contract with the Mets. ... Jose Mesa, who lost his closer's job with the Phillies late last season, agreed to a minor league contract with Pittsburgh. ... Yung-Chi Chen, a middle infielder from Taiwan, agreed to a minor league contract with Seattle. ... The New York Yankees' Jon Lieber threw 50 pitches in the bullpen during his first early spring training workout at the Yankees minor league complex. ... The Florida Marlins are pursuing free agent Wil Cordero as a reserve first baseman and outfielder. ... Texas purchased the contract of right-hander Carlos Almanzar from Triple-A Oklahoma and designated infielder Mike Lamb for assignment.

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