If you put together a Mount Rushmore of crazy baseball owners, you might just carve out four different versions of the late Yankees owner. His penchant for firing staff was so legendary that commercials and a Saturday Night Live skit made fun of it. He once threatened to fire the team's trainer because too many players were getting hurt. But, give George this: He took over a team that was in rough shape on and off the field and turned it into a winner and one of the most valuable franchises in the world.
The cable television mogul turned out to be a decent owner, and under his leadership, the Braves became one of the elite organizations in baseball. But that was years after he shipped manager Dave Bristol out of town on a so-called scouting trip so Turner could manage the team one day. The Braves lost and National League president Chub Feeney dug up some rule that said owners couldn't be managers.
One of the first women to buy (not inherit) a major North American sports franchise when she bought the Reds in 1984. No owner — male or female — put their foot in their mouth more often. There were slurs against African-Americans, Japanese people, Jewish people and homosexuals during her ownership. She ended up being suspended from running the team after remarks about Adolf Hitler that, in effect, said he did a lot of good things but just went too far. My goodness! It was never boring. She sold her share of the team in 1999 and died two years later.
The Kansas City/Oakland A's owner was full of crazy ideas: an orange baseball, the designated runner, a three-ball walk and two-strike strikeout, bonuses for players who grew facial hair and colorful uniforms. Many of his ideas never caught on and his run-ins with players and managers (including trying to "fire'' second baseman Mike Andrews during the 1973 World Series) made him look like a bad guy at times. Still, Finley is one of sports' most colorful characters.
Baseball's ultimate showman and promoter. The Indians, Browns and White Sox owner came up with such kooky ideas as sending 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel up to the plate to pinch hit, having his White Sox players wear shorts and hosting Disco Demolition night in 1979, when a riot broke out after disco records were blown up on the field. But he was more than just some baseball hustler. He championed the cause of black players, signing Larry Doby, the first African-American player in the American League.
Five suggestions on the next owner of the Dodgers
1. Mark Cuban. Wouldn't you love to see him sitting behind home plate yelling at umpires?
2. Stuart Sternberg. Stuart could buy the Dodgers after selling the Rays to Cuban, who could use his own money to build a new stadium.
3. Magic Johnson. Word is he wants to be a part of a group that brings the NFL back to L.A., but he'd make a great baseball owner.
4. Dennis Gilbert. Actually, Gilbert is the front-runner. He's a White Sox executive and former agent.
5. Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser. The former Dodger greats supposedly are joining forces to lead a group of a bunch of Dodgers to buy the team. How cool would that be?
tom jones' two cents
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is about to be the former Dodgers owner. Following a nasty divorce, McCourt is going sell the team. Reportedly, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was, at one time, interested in buying the Dodgers. Cuban also was linked in the past to having interest in the Cubs and Pirates. Actually, baseball could use an owner such as the outspoken Cuban. These days, baseball owners are boring, not like the good old days of the past. Here are our picks for the most outrageous and maverick baseball owners of all time.