Former Texas Rangers president J. Thomas Schieffer was hired by Commissioner Bud Selig on Monday to run the Los Angeles Dodgers, less than a week after Major League Baseball took over operation of the franchise from owner Frank McCourt.
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Schieffer, younger brother of ”Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer, took over immediately. In seizing control of the franchise, MLB told the Dodgers that any expenditure of $5,000 or more would have to be approved.
The 63-year-old Schieffer served three terms in the Texas House of Representatives in the 1970s after being elected at the age of 25. President George W. Bush appointed him ambassador to Australia in 2001, a job held until he became ambassador to Japan from 2005-09. In business, Schieffer managed investments in oil and gas.
”Tom is a distinguished public servant who has represented the nation with excellence and has demonstrated extraordinary leadership throughout his career,” 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.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the appointment wouldn’t affect his team’s approach.
”It has nothing to do with us. It doesn’t change anything about what we do or how we get ready, making pitches, making plays, being in the right spot, playing baseball,” Mattingly said before Los Angeles played at Florida on Monday night. ”This is kind of year two of it. The fact MLB came in doesn’t really change anything for us.”
”I don’t know if it’s going to have any effect on moves we’re able to make or not able to make. I don’t know that. But the one thing we know is we’ve got control down here,” he said.
The Dodgers took a 12-11 record into their game against the Marlins.
”We talked all spring about being a club that’s ready to play and our responsibility to the fans and the game of baseball, playing hard every day, being ready to play and giving it everything you’ve got without making any excuses about any situation, whether it’s travel or weather or umpires, whatever it is,” Mattingly said. ”And this is another one of those areas – it’s an area we can’t use as any kind of excuse.”
Schieffer currently is senior counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, the same position held at the firm by New York Yankees president Randy Levine.
Schieffer invested in the group headed by Bush that bought the Rangers in 1989 and was team president from January 1991 until April 1999, 10 months after the team was sold from Bush’s group to Tom Hicks. Schieffer also served as general partner from November 1994, when Bush was elected governor of Texas, until Hicks took control of the team in June 1998.
The Fort Worth native was the club’s partner in charge of ballpark development before the 1994 opening of the Rangers’ new stadium. The Rangers won their first three AL West titles in 1996 and 1998-99 during Schieffer’s tenure.
As the president of the Rangers, Schieffer was a member of several significant MLB committees and boards, including Selig’s 1999 Blue Ribbon Task Force on Baseball Economics.
Once one of baseball’s most powerful franchises, the Dodgers have been in near constant turmoil since October 2009, when Jamie McCourt filed for divorce a week after husband Frank fired her as the team’s chief executive.
Selig told Frank McCourt last Wednesday he would appoint a MLB representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the club.
”I think everyone is of the mind that we really aren’t going to react to it,” Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake said. ”Just show up here and prepare ourselves like we do every day to do what we do, and that’s play baseball and win games, and things will take care of themselves.”