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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 is familiar with the idea of a place being a fulfillment of one's dreams. Which is why L.A. is the perfect place for Frank McCourt. His dreams nurture him, give him passion, though to others his dreams are the mark of a man who fantasizes about a distant perfection rather than a present reality. It's another criticism that McCourt tries to invalidate and, in the process, only reaffirms.

"Everyone points to the fact that I held on to that Boston land for 25 years as a parking lot," he says. "I wanted to build on it as badly as anyone, but my concern was that my name would be on it, my family's name. There were 101 projects I coulda built just to make money. But this was gonna be a place for Boston for the next 100 years. I wasn't gonna do anything just because it was good for the McCourts. I envisioned museums, schools, parks. I'd rather do nothing than a bad thing.

"I'm not a developer. I'm a vintner. You can open a bottle of wine after the grapes are harvested and turned into wine. But for the finest wine you have to wait 10 years. You can't drink it right away. You have to have patience. So don't [expletive] ask me if I can turn my vision into reality! I've been [expletive] building all my life! I never quit on anything!"

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.

A few minutes later, Frank is walking through the runways of the stadium at field level. He points out a wall of Dodger uniform shirts encased in glass. "Hall of Fame jerseys," he says. "When I got here they were stored in boxes. I put them up because I want my players to think about the guys who put on that uniform before them." He means Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale and Jackie Robinson. The last picture frame is empty. He smiles. "My players have to walk by this one and think, 'Whose jersey is gonna be in this one?'"

Back at the Hotel Bel-Air, Frank McCourt orders a pastry and wonders why Angelenos still believe he and his wife have a hidden agenda. He is asked about the NFL fiasco. Frank says he'll talk about it only "off the record."

Jamie says, "I think . . . "

"Because I really don't want . . . "

"Excuse me!" snaps Jamie. "Did I interrupt you?"

Frank goes silent.

Jamie says, "I think you should go on the record."

Finally, Frank says: "Other groups who wanted to buy the Dodgers had an agenda, so they assumed we did too. We were gonna build condos on Dodger land, or put an NFL team there. But we just wanted to make the Dodgers work. A lot of rich people here couldn't figure out how to make the Dodgers work. I mean, if Fox and Murdoch couldn't figure out how to make the Dodgers work, how could we, these strangers?"

What he leaves unsaid is his belief that his dreams of Dodger greatness do not conflict with his dreams for the future development of Dodger land. They are both part of his one grand dream for his L.A. enterprise, which is not unlike his grand dream for that 25 acres of Boston land that he never developed while waiting for the perfect moment. Frank McCourt will always be an Irish Romantic, with all that implies, a touch of doomed fatalism.

"I'm willing to fail," he says. "I'd rather go down with the ship than play it safe."

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