As the primary architect of the Atlanta Braves’ dynasty in the 1980s and ’90s, Kasten noted the Dodgers’ fast start in stressing that the goal is to “win now — we’re not going to wait two years.”
In the tall, reserved Walter, Johnson can see parallels in ownership style with the Lakers’ Jerry Buss. Buss left it to general manager Jerry West and successor Mitch Kupchak to make the moves that kept that franchise at the top of the heap.
“Mark’s like Dr. Buss,” Magic said. “He’ll put money into the team and stay out of the way. He wants to win.”
Johnson, a big baseball fan growing up in Michigan, called it “one of the happiest days of my life.”
He said he was flattered that Walter and Kasten wanted him to join Guggenheim Baseball Management — along with Mandalay Entertainment chairman Peter Guber, Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly and Texas energy investor Bobby Patton — when they were putting together their winning bid to Frank and Jamie McCourt.
Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully — one of the few individuals holding a place in the region’s hearts close to Johnson’s — mastered the ceremonies, concluding that this would be the last ownership exchange that would have his involvement.
There will be an unspecified amount of room available in the budget to pursue established talent in trades and free agency while fortifying the farm system, Kasten said.
“We’re not going to gouge the fans just because we paid a nice sum for this franchise,” Johnson said, disclosing that general parking would come down from $15 to $10. “We don’t want the fans to think because we wrote a big check [$2 billion], we’re going to stop writing checks for talent. We don’t want people to think we’re short on money now. That’s not the case.”
The sale of the team, the stadium and land surrounding it became official on Tuesday as the group closed its $2 billion purchase, ending the McCourts’ stormy eight-year ownership..
Guggenheim paid an additional $150 million for a 50-percent interest in the property surrounding Chavez Ravine and the stadium parking lots, in a joint venture with McCourt.
The McCourts bought the Dodgers in 2004 from News Corp. for a net purchase price of $371 million.
When Vin Scully arrived from Brooklyn with the Dodgers for the 1958 season, he found Los Angeles to be lacking a core.
“When I came to Los Angeles, all I knew was that it was like 450 square miles. There was no ‘there.’ I felt Los Angeles did not have a centerpiece.”
The opening of Dodger Stadium in 1962 changed that.
“In a sense, Dodger Stadium put the ‘there’ in Los Angeles,” Scully said. “I believe the stadium helped to reunite this spacious community that extends from here to there.”
The stadium opened exactly 50 years ago Tuesday, and the Hall of Fame broadcaster shared his thoughts and memories of the ballpark in a recent interview:
The now-extinct dugout seats:
“Now, I was told this was absolutely true: Giants-Dodgers game, late in the game, Giants rallying, crowd going bananas, Willie Mays in the on-deck circle and all that stuff, Willie McCovey going to hit in back of him, and Milton Berle, a comedian, is sitting in a dugout seat.
“Now, Mays is going to come up. And as Mays started to walk up to the plate, Berle hollered, ‘Willie!’ Mays looked over and recognized Berle. Berle said, ‘Come here a minute.’ Willie actually started, instinctively, to come over and realized, ‘What am I, crazy? I’m in the middle of a game!’
“Doris Day used to love those seats. She was a sweet lady. You would see her a lot. Cary Grant, when he was married to Dyan Cannon, they would sit in those dugout seats.”
Construction insight from longtime owner Peter O’Malley:
“Mr. O’Malley pointed out an interesting thing that I never thought of. They were building the stadium and he said, ‘The most expensive seats are the cheapest to install. And the cheapest seats are the most expensive to install.’
“He said, ‘The box seat is the most expensive. It’s right on the ground. The cheapest seat is way the hell up there. Just think of all the steel and concrete and everything else you need to put that seat way up there.’ ”
for many more excerpts form the best announcer in baseball…For Vin Scully, the view from Dodger Stadium never gets old