Jamie Luskin grew up playing hardball in Baltimore — shortstop material, she recalls. An ardent Orioles fan, she was 10 when she told her parents she would own a baseball team someday.
Frank McCourt, growing up in the Boston suburbs, loved the Red Sox and knew owning a team could be more than a fantasy. His grandfather had a stake in the long-gone Boston Braves.
Years later, these two met at Georgetown University, fell in love, married and eventually went to Boston, where they made their fortune in real estate.
In 2004, they realized their dream of owning a major league ballclub. They quit Boston for Los Angeles and transformed themselves into a glamour couple, hosting celebrities in the owner's box at Dodger Stadium.
They bought a house on the beach in Malibu. Then they bought the one next door.
Behind closed doors, they were often a noisy power couple — stubborn and contentious, arguing over whatever they felt strongly about, whether it was ticket prices or putting players' names on jerseys. (He had the names taken off at one point; she wanted them back on.) But in public, cameras captured them perpetually grinning at each other, as if sharing some delicious joke.
"Fun and feisty," one friend called them. If they came at a problem from different angles, so much the better. They had a yin-and-yang, you-see-the-forest-I-see-the-trees symbiosis.
Today, they live apart — she in Malibu, he at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills — and they no longer argue face-to-face. High-priced lawyers do it for them, and though the spectacle might be noisy and feisty, few would call it fun.
They went on their first date as freshmen at Georgetown, and the differences in their personalities soon became apparent. She was punctual. He was habitually late. When he would arrange to meet her at the library, she'd use the waiting time to study.
Jamie's father was a master of promotion. Jack Luskin boasted in commercials that he was "the cheapest guy in town," and he had Luskin's electronics stores in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Frank was the son of a construction company owner and knew all about nuts and bolts and infrastructure. When they were college students, he would walk her through the D.C. Metro system, then under construction, and explain how it was all put together.
"I like to learn and that was all new to me," Jamie, 56, said in an interview.
Crazy about sports, they would drive to Baltimore to watch the younger of her two brothers play Little League.
"They were incredibly in love," said Barbara Crocker, a Georgetown classmate and Jamie's close friend since childhood. "I can't remember a time when they weren't together."
There was, however, a period of skittishness. In college and later, when Jamie was in law school at the University of Maryland, she repeatedly broke up and reconciled with Frank, because her Jewish parents were mortified that she was dating a Gentile. Frank was raised Catholic.
Eventually, love trumped her parents' disapproval. Jamie moved to New York to practice corporate law, and in 1979, they were married by a rabbi in their co-op — without her parents' blessing. Frank's family attended and so did Jamie's two brothers.
Even now, she laughs when she remembers how Frank was late for the ceremony — and he was arriving from the bedroom.
Her parents long ago reconciled with the couple. The McCourts' four sons, now ages 20 to 28, were raised Jewish.
"I always tell my father, 'You were right, I shouldn't have married him — but you had the wrong reasons,'" she said with a rueful chuckle as she sat in the office of one of her lawyers, Bert Fields. (Frank, 57, declined to be interviewed for this article.)
After a couple of years of commuting, Frank persuaded Jamie to leave New York for Boston, where she juggled legal jobs and child-rearing before going back to school, earning an MBA from MIT. Then Frank asked her to be general counsel of the McCourt Co., his real estate development firm.
The company's 24 waterfront acres of parking lots were the focus of a legal battle with the state over how much he should be compensated after some of the land was taken for a huge highway project.
Eventually, the McCourts made millions. Their shared dream was within reach. They tried for the Boston Red Sox in 2000 but were outbid. They came close to buying the Angels. On the third try they succeeded, buying the Dodgers from News Corp. for $430 million.
On Jan. 29, 2004, the Dodgers organization announced that "Frank and Jamie McCourt were confirmed as the fourth owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers…"