ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The last time Chuck Greenberg had been in the same ballpark as Nolan Ryan on opening day was 40 years ago.
On Monday, Greenberg was sitting in the front row next to Ryan at the Texas Rangers home opener and on the verge of joining the Hall of Fame pitcher and team president in owning the team.
"Opening day is the best day of the year. With what a long winter it's been, it makes it even more so," Greenberg said before the game against Toronto. "So I'm excited."
Greenberg, a Pittsburgh sports attorney, is heading the investment group including Ryan that is buying the Rangers from Tom Hicks.
While the Greenberg-Ryan group had hoped to have the sale completed before opening day, Greenberg now anticipates closing the deal the week of April 19. That means the new ownership group could be ready to take over when the Rangers open their second homestand of the season April 23.
"It's not a matter of what might have been, it's what will be, and good things are worth waiting for," Greenberg said. "It's been a long process and another few weeks really won't make any difference at all."
The transfer of ownership has complicated by the significant debt owed by Hicks' financially strapped Hicks Sports Group. Exclusive negotiations began nearly four months ago with Hicks, who is also working to sell his NHL team, the Dallas Stars.
Greenberg arrived about 2½ hours before the game wearing black cowboy boots that were a gift from Ryan — the first boots he's had since getting Dingo boots endorsed by Joe Namath when he was a kid. When the game began, Greenberg was sitting in the owner's box directly between Ryan and Hicks.
Greenberg said opening day was always a school holiday for him growing up with his dad taking him to Pittsburgh Pirates home openers. That included the 1970 opener at Forbes Field when Ryan was with the New York Mets, though Tom Seaver started the game the Mets won 5-3 in 11 innings.
"One time my dad decided to play it straight and wrote a note to the principal that talked about opening day, fathers and sons and traditions," Greenberg said. "The principal wrote him a note back and said, 'Mr. Greenberg it was beautiful letter, I was truly inspired by it. It's still an unexcused absence and Chuck's going to have to serve detention.'"
No detention this time.
"It's been a productive 40 years ever since," Greenberg said.