04/25/11 10:30 PM ET
Selig appoints Schieffer to monitor Dodgers
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
"The first thing is, I don't want it to affect anything on the field," said Schieffer, selected by Commissioner Bud Selig on Monday to oversee the Dodgers operation on behalf of Major League Baseball.
"I want the focus to be on the field. My No. 1 mandate is to take care of the fans and the team. I don't want to make a lot of news. This is all about making a healthy Dodgers franchise for the city of L.A."
Schieffer, 63, will be responsible for the Dodgers' day-to-day operations and finances of the club and all related entities, reporting directly to Selig. MLB assumed oversight of the franchise on Wednesday from owner Frank McCourt, who can still be involved in club operations but must have his decisions approved by Schieffer, according to sources.
"We are very fortunate to have someone of Tom Schieffer's stature monitor the operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers on behalf of Major League Baseball," Selig said in a release.
"Tom is a distinguished public servant who has represented the nation with excellence and has demonstrated extraordinary leadership throughout his career. The many years that he spent managing the operations of a successful franchise will benefit the Dodgers and Major League Baseball as a whole. I am grateful for Tom's acceptance of this role."
Schieffer said he got the call from Selig on Monday morning.
"He called and said he needed help and I love baseball," said Schieffer. "Baseball called, and I'm off. I'll do the best I can for baseball and L.A. It's a great franchise with a great history, and the Dodgers are a huge part of baseball. It's an honor, and I'm humbled to be asked.
"It's a difficult situation for the Dodgers. I'm learning about it every hour."
Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, now CEO of the Rangers, endorsed the choice.
"I know Tom and his passion for baseball, and it comes at a time when he has the time to give to it," said Ryan. "I think it will be a challenge that he will embrace. I think he is the logical choice just because of his experience here and his experience as an ambassador. He'll see the whole picture and try to do what needs to be done in the best interests of the Dodgers to get them back on track."
Those who know Schieffer say he's a huge baseball fan with a deep appreciation for the game. He grew up a Yankees fan, carved out a career as a corporate attorney in oil and gas matters and served three terms as a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives.
"To me, for that role, he is the perfect guy," said Tom Grieve, who was dismissed as Texas general manager by Schieffer, then hired to be a Rangers television analyst.
"He's bright, he loves the game, he's got an incredible attention to detail, he's got passion and he's a tireless worker. There is nothing about that job that won't appeal to him or he won't do a great job at. Whoever came up with his name, it was a brilliant idea. If I was one of the people with the Dodgers who were in that predicament, I would feel very good that Tom was the guy being named to lead that organization."
When George W. Bush and Rusty Rose sought to purchase the Rangers in 1989, Schieffer was recruited to provide added local ownership, although he had never before met Bush. Schieffer was Texas club president from 1991-99 and general partner from 1994-1998, when Bush left to run for governor.
Schieffer was credited with leading the political battle to get the necessary funding for The Ballpark in Arlington, and then overseeing its construction.
Schieffer directed the Rangers clubhouse housecleaning, ridding the roster of players considered selfish and bringing in high-character makeup players to set an upbeat tone.
The Rangers won three division titles in his tenure there, and he served on several MLB committees and boards, including the 1999 Blue Ribbon Task Force on Baseball Economics.
When Tom Hicks bought the Rangers, Schieffer left baseball. He was named by Bush to be the U.S. Ambassador to Australia from 2001-2005, and the U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 2005-2009. He was honored by the Department of Defense with its Distinguished Public Service Medal, the military's highest civilian award.
Schieffer, the younger brother of CBS News' Bob Schieffer, said he had been practicing law with the Dallas firm Aiken Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld since September.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Schieffer's appointment doesn't change anything from the stance he took Wednesday when MLB took control of the club.
"I don't think I've met him, but it still doesn't affect us," said Mattingly. "Ned [Colletti, general manager] is the guy I answer to. He gives me information. I don't know if it will have any effect on the moves we make. We control down here.
"This is kind of Year 2 of it. The fact MLB came in hasn't changed anything to us."
McCourt, owner and chairman, bought the Dodgers from News Corp. on Jan. 29, 2004, and the club reached the postseason in four of his seven seasons as owner.
However, the club's finances have come into question since his highly publicized divorce from Jamie McCourt -- his wife of 29 years who also served as CEO of the club until 2009 -- who seeks 50 percent ownership of the franchise.
This season, there have been media reports that McCourt's request to accept a $200 million advance in broadcasting revenues from FOX was rejected by the Commissioner, who has not ruled on whether a television deal McCourt struck with FOX for 20 years and $3 billion can stand.
Two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times reported that FOX directly loaned McCourt $30 million, which apparently was needed to make payroll.
Meanwhile, the franchise has been under intense scrutiny since the Dodger Stadium parking lot assault on Opening Day that left a San Francisco Giants fan hospitalized in a medically induced coma.
In the wake of that incident, attendance has been down significantly, while the Los Angeles Police Department has made a highly visible presence, essentially taking over security at the park.
The day before MLB seized control, McCourt announced the hiring of Los Angeles civic leader and developer Steve Soboroff as a vice chairman with responsibilities to enhance the fan experience and strengthen ties to the community.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter T.R. Sullivan contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.