Published March 11, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas – It didn't take long for Chuck Greenberg to become a very visible figure for the Texas Rangers, buying the team in a dramatic bankruptcy court showdown and then taking on the role of CEO and managing partner before the team's first-ever World Series.
On Friday, seven months after his investment group bought the team, the AL champion Rangers abruptly announced that Greenberg was leaving the organization. The move came three weeks before the season opener.
Growing differences between the charismatic CEO, team president Nolan Ryan and board co-chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson had been an ongoing issue out of the public eye.
"In reality, management styles and chemistries sometimes don't fit together. That was the situation with Chuck and the board and Nolan," Davis said. "Chuck made a huge contribution and we wish him all the best success in the world in whatever he endeavors to do."
The ownership group has already bought out Greenberg's small financial stake in the team. Simpson said Greenberg turned down the opportunity for another position in the group, one "not in the full role that he was enjoying."
Ryan will add the title of CEO and oversee baseball and business operations, reporting directly to the team's board of directors. The Hall of Fame pitcher, who finished his 27-season playing career with the Rangers, became their team president in February 2008.
Davis and Simpson, the largest investors in the ownership group, wouldn't get into specifics about the differences with Greenberg in what was their first formal news conference since taking over the team last year. Neither would Ryan.
"I don't really think there was an event that created the separation. I think it was just a combination of philosophies," Ryan said. "It's like a marriage, you never know. You think things are going to work. ... In business until you really get in there on a day-to-day basis do you really get a true feel for how it's going to work."
Greenberg didn't return several messages left by The Associated Press, but in a statement released earlier by the team indicated the differences in the ownership group.
"Unfortunately, Nolan Ryan, the co-chairmen and I have somewhat different styles. While I am disappointed we did not work through our differences, I remain wholeheartedly committed to doing what's right for the franchise," Greenberg said. "Together we concluded it is best for all concerned for me to sell my interest back to Rangers Baseball Express and move on. I do so with a heavy heart."
Greenberg, a Pittsburgh attorney who owns two minor league baseball teams, recently moved into a new home in North Texas. His role had been to oversee the business side of the franchise while Ryan took care of baseball operations.
Greenberg and Ryan were the most visible figures during the prolonged process of purchasing the Rangers from Tom Hicks. After entering into exclusive negotiations with Hicks in December 2009, an initial agreement was reached the following month.
But the acquisition was delayed and ended up in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The team's May filing included a plan to sell to the investor group led by Greenberg and Ryan, but angry creditors successfully argued to reopen the bidding.
The messy court fight dragged on for 11 weeks and included an auction showdown with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban last August. The Ryan-Greenberg group finally won with a bid valued at about $590 million.
"Chuck's determination during an extremely long and complicated sales process was crucial in delivering a positive outcome for our ownership group last August," Ryan said. "We owe him a great deal of thanks for those efforts."
Davis touted Greenberg for putting the ownership group together and "spearheading through the bankruptcy process."
The day after Major League Baseball formally approved the sale, Greenberg and Ryan announced lower prices for concessions, parking and merchandise at Rangers Ballpark. When Greenberg wasn't sitting in the front row with Ryan through the end of the regular season and in the playoffs, he was often interacting with fans.
In the weeks after the World Series, which the Rangers lost in five games to San Francisco, the team added a new chief operating officer and three vice presidents. They announced the first in a series of scheduled improvements at the 16-year-old stadium, including $13 million in video, technology and audio updates for this season. A new 5,000-square-foot HD screen already sits high above right field.
The Rangers this winter moved their Triple-A franchise to Round Rock, Texas, a natural fit because of location and its ownership by the Ryan family. The franchise's High-A team was shifted to Myrtle Beach, S.C., one of Greenberg's minor league teams and where the Rangers will play an exhibition game March 29.
Despite his expanded role, Ryan doesn't expect much of a change in what he does. He likened it to when he was the team president during the bankruptcy while Major League Baseball was overseeing the team.
"I expect to be able to do both with the team of people that we have in place," Ryan said. "I don't see the business side of it being run any differently than my approach on the baseball side."