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Frank and Jamie McCourt Sooooo Love L.A. Why Hasn't L.A. Loved Them Back?

The fightin' Irish from Boston are on a mission to restore the Dodgers' winning ways. If only the city would believe them.

July 23, 2006|Pat Jordan | Pat Jordan has written 15 books, including the baseball memoir "A False Spring."

Frank tells stories in the Irish way, with a Boston accent and a faint stutter. Long, elaborate, convoluted stories, all curlicues and digressions, swirling back on themselves, redundant, pointless, spinning and spinning and spinning, but apparently going nowhere, until, miraculously, they begin to rise in a masterful flourish like a baroque concerto from Handel, rising and rising to a deafening crescendo, the point.

"So I was a construction foreman on one of my dad's projects when I was 18 and I'd come home filthy every night just looking for my dad to tell me I was doing a great job, and everyone had to wait for me to wash up because I was late for dinner and one night I sat down at the table and he was looking at me and I knew this was it and he was gonna tell me and we said grace and then he looks at me and says, 'You should be ashamed of yourself,' and I was crushed because I thought he'd say how proud he was I was working so hard but all he said was, 'You don't get it, you're a foreman and you should go to the job in a white shirt and come home clean and not keep everyone waiting for dinner because you grabbed a shovel and jumped in a hole with laborers to show them how to dig dirt and while you're in the hole you can't see what's going on on the site,' and I was stunned while it began to sink in that it was important for me to get out of the hole to see the whole picture, which wasn't really his only point because he said, 'If they can't do the job, get rid of 'em!'"

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday August 20, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 48 words Type of Material: Correction
The McCourts: In West magazine's July 23 article on Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, the quotes from Bill Chadwick, former president of the Coliseum Commission, and Bernard Parks Jr., chief of staff for City Councilman Bernard Parks, were from a December 2005 story by the Boston Herald.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday September 03, 2006 Home Edition West Magazine Part I Page 5 Lat Magazine Desk 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
In the article on Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt (July 23), the quotes from Bill Chadwick, former president of the Coliseum Commission, and Bernard Parks Jr., chief of staff for City Councilman Bernard Parks, were from a December 2005 story by the Boston Herald.

Jamie tells stories reluctantly, in fits and starts, truncated stories with conspicuous gaps, like neurotically over-pruned shrubs, clipped with embarrassed silences, until, under prodding, she begins again, another nip here, a nip there, her stories without point except to protect her sense of privacy.

"I don't want to say." Pause. "I was so embarrassed." Pause. "It was our fist date." Pause. "1971." Pause. "I was . . . " Pause. " . . . wearing." Pause. "It was so embarrassing." Pause. "I stood up." Pause. "He could see I was wearing . . . " Pause. " . . . hot pants."

"I'm sooooo happy here!" Jamie McCourt says. "It's sooooo L.A.!"

She's sitting in a booth at the leafy outdoor restaurant of the Hotel Bel-Air on a sunny, late morning. She is a tanned, noticeably thin woman with blond-streaked hair, wearing a fitted, lime-colored sleeveless shift with stiletto heels. Not hot pants, but not the matronly dresses she used to wear in Boston, either, where she lived with her husband, Frank McCourt, a construction and real estate tycoon, before they bought the Los Angeles Dodgers 2{dagger} years ago and moved to L.A., settling into a house in Bel-Air with their sons, ages 24, 23, 19 and 16. Jamie, a quick study, looked around at the L.A. women her age, then got a tan, streaked her brown hair blond and bought some short skirts. Too short at first--and people noticed--but now fashionably short. Jamie isn't the first person to reinvent herself in the Land of Dreams.

"The other day this man asked me if I lived around here. I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'I thought you were a West Coast girl.'"

She loved that. At 52, Jamie is girlish, but matronly, too. She says she's a cross between Gloria Steinem and Julia Child. "I'm a chicken soup mom," she explains. "I love hanging out with my four sons and their friends. I cook for them and tell them how cool I am. They treat me like one of the gang. They think I'm sooooo cool." When I ask if she's working too hard at being hip, she snaps, "Hey, buddy, I'm still a girl." Actually, she's a Jewish Sister Mary Ignatius, who explains it all for you.

She holds up a croissant: "Even the chocolate in a croissant tastes better at the Bel-Air."

Frank arrives late, wearing a silvery-gray suit and crisp white shirt and tie. He kisses his wife and sits down. Frank and Jamie make a great production of their closeness. They were once caught on television at a Dodger game kissing in the stands.

He's also 52, a trim, handsome man, not unlike Paul Newman in "The Verdict." He has short gray hair, a determined jaw, an Irish tan and the map of County Cork on his face. He can be stubborn. When challenged, he clamps down like a pit bull and refuses to let go. It happened after he bought a piece of land on the water in South Boston 25 years ago. He hung on to it year after year, refusing project after project because none of them was grandiose enough for his vision. He used the land as a parking lot for a quarter of a century, until finally he had to sell it this past year to complete the purchase of the Dodgers.

Both Frank and Jamie had always dreamed of owning a baseball team. They had tried and failed to buy the Boston Red Sox. And in February 2004, when they became the proprietors of the Dodgers, Frank was ebullient. "This is gonna be fun!" he said. Jamie said, "Now our hearts are in L.A."

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