In all of sports, there are highs and lows with franchises experience throughout their history. For many Los Angeles Dodgers fans, that occurred during the turbulent Frank McCourt era in Los Angeles.
The businessman and his wife, Jamie McCourt, reached an agreement to purchase the Dodgers from News Corp. in October 2003 for $430 million. Major League Baseball unanimously approved the sale in January 2004.
Los Angeles went on to win 93 games that season and their first National League West division title since 1995.
The early success, however, was merely a mirage. The club won just 71 games in 2005, and were swept by the New York Mets in 2006 after reaching the postseason as a Wild Card team.
The Dodgers made back to-back trips to the National League Championship Series in 2008 and 2009, but on the eve of Game 1 of the 2009 NLCS, the McCourts announced they were separating after 30 years of marriage.
Jamie McCourt was fired as chief executive of the Dodgers on Oct. 22, 2009, and she filed for divorce five days later. That triggered a series of events that hung a dark cloud over the franchise for multiple years.
Jamie reflected on the period she and her husband owned the Dodgers with some fondness, via
Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe:
“I got to know everyone — business people, politicians, everyday citizens, actors, actresses, activists, and heads of state. I loved every single minute of it. Right up until the day I was fired. By my husband,” McCourt said last month at an MIT conference. “That’s right. He gave me a pink slip. And not the kind from Victoria’s Secret.”
As for the err in judgement to provide the money necessary to support the franchise, Jamie lamented the trust she had in Frank:
“I had comingled all of my money — handed it over to him with no questions asked. I thought we were in it together, for the four boys. I could not have been more wrong,” she recounted. “I had to listen to him and his lawyers tell the court that, in spite of our 40 years together and 32 years of marriage, I deserved nothing. And I mean nothing. He said, and I quote, ‘She’s lucky to have been along for the ride.’ ”
The messy divorce left Jamie with a $131 million settlement and more than $50 million in real estate properties. She filed an appeal to overturn the original ruling on the basis Frank was misleading over the value of the franchise.
He of course sold the Dodgers to the Guggenheim group for a record $2.15 billion. The ruling was upheld, however, and Jamie was also instructed to pay Frank’s legal fees (nearly $2 million) as part of the appeal process.
Jamie now finds herself working to inform women about the negatives of money corruption and financial situations. Although the McCourt’s reputation in Los Angeles has been tarnished, Jamie can hope to further separate her image from that of a deceitful ex-husband.