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Frank McCourt apologizes to Dodgers fans

Dodgers owner says he's at peace after battles with Major League Baseball and his ex-wife.

November 14, 2011|By Bill Shaikin
  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt arrives for the dedication of the Dodger Dreamfield at Mona Park in Compton on Monday.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt arrives for the dedication of the Dodger Dreamfield… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

Frank McCourt apologized to Dodgers fans for the ownership struggle of the last two years and said he was "at peace" with the result of battles in which he took on his ex-wife in divorce court and Commissioner Bud Selig in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers two weeks ago, signing a document that renders the decision "irrevocable." In his first public comments since then, he said Monday that he had no regrets about the decision to sell.

"It got to a point where it became very, very clear to me that it was the right decision," he said. "I'm at peace with the decision. It wasn't my first choice."

McCourt spoke with reporters after the Dodgers dedicated a youth baseball field at Mona Park in Compton. He said he was "very grateful" to Dodgers fans.

"They have been phenomenal to me and my family since the day we arrived in L.A.," he said. "I know the last couple years were very, very difficult.

"I'm very, very sorry about that. We're going to move forward and handle the situation now in as professional a way as possible and make sure the baton is passed here in a classy way."

McCourt's ex-wife, Jamie, yielded her claim to half-ownership of the Dodgers in a divorce settlement last month. Court approval of that settlement, which had been set for Monday, was postponed until Nov. 28.

By April 30, McCourt must complete the sale of the Dodgers and pay his ex-wife $131 million.

"Life is great every single day," McCourt said. "I've had tremendous opportunities in my life. I anticipate I'll have more moving forward. I'm happy that I'm clearing up a number of things in my personal life as well. That's going to be very, very helpful."

Center fielder Matt Kemp, who has agreed to terms with the Dodgers on a $160-million contract even amid the ownership uncertainty, called McCourt "a good friend of mine" and said he had "put some great teams together."

Said Kemp: "I think everybody thinks Frank is this bad person. I know Frank personally. He's been nothing but great to me. He's a great guy and he cares a lot about these kids and a lot about the community. For people to talk bad about him … they really don't know too much about him."

Kemp said he had "nothing but respect" for McCourt.

McCourt declined to comment on Selig, whose attorneys had charged McCourt with "looting" $189 million from team revenue and said attendance had fallen at Dodger Stadium because McCourt had "completely alienated the Dodgers' fan base." McCourt's attorney disputed those allegations.

Said McCourt: "I've taken the high road throughout here, whether it's been the commissioner or my former wife. I'm going to continue to do that."

Under his settlement with Major League Baseball, McCourt — and not Selig — gets the final say on the new Dodgers owner. In setting forth what he would like to see in a new owner, McCourt essentially echoed what he told Los Angeles on the day he bought the Dodgers in 2004.

"It's somebody who is a huge baseball fan, who loves this community and is willing to commit to this community and put everything they have into it," McCourt said, "and bring a world championship to L.A."

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

Times staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.

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