FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – When you hear the name Mark Cuban the Dallas Mavericks come to mind, right? Jerry Jones? The Cowboys. Nolan Ryan? You get the idea.
How about Bobby Patton?
If you’re involved in the Fort Worth scene, you probably know Bobby and his wife, Sherri. You know them as a generous supporters of various charities who are passionate about their children’s interests.
They are also big sports fans.
He is a lifelong Rangers fan, attending World Series games the last two seasons. Patton has been involved with the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial for 20 years. In fact, he will take over as the tournament chairman once the 2012 tournament concludes this Sunday.
The Pattons have a suite at the newly renovated Amon G. Carter stadium on the TCU campus. He can’t wait for his alma mater, the University of Texas, to play in Fort Worth in 2013. His college buddies are already lobbying for an invitation to that game. They’re also season ticket holders at Cowboys Stadium. For the record, their tickets are the really good ones where guests drink the good booze and rub elbows with T. Boone Pickens, Lana and Barry Andrews and Lee Ann and Alan White.
Beyond that, you might not know much about Bobby Patton. Until now. Patton, along with four other men, including former Lakers great Magic Johnson, and four insurance companies are the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The group paid a record $2.15 billion dollars for the franchise.
Patton is not some minority owner, mind you. Three of those five owners wrote really big checks, I’m talking nine-figure checks. Bobby Patton, a graduate of Fort Worth’s Paschal High School, is one of those men.
The group, known as Guggenheim Baseball Management, originally tried to buy the Houston Astros.
“We got to that party a little late,” he told me from his Fort Worth office off of Camp Bowie. “The next team up was the the Dodgers and I couldn’t be more pleased with the fact we didn’t get the Astros.”
To put it in Texas Rangers terms, Patton will be a low-key owner similar to Rangers co-chairmen Bob Simpson and Ray Davis. Magic Johnson is their Nolan Ryan.
“As far I’m concerned he can be the face of the Dodgers. To a large extent, he is.”
Patton doesn’t expect his life to change much now that he owns one of professional sports most iconic franchises. He will still live in Fort Worth and attend his children’s sporting events. He will have to quit one of his passions – the fantasy football league he’s been playing in for the last decade.
“That one, I’m going to miss,” he deadpans.
Perhaps the fact that, as a MLB owner, he can walk into any ballpark in the major leagues makes up for that. That’s certainly a good perk but, ever the thorough businessman, he was curious about parking.
“I was a little bit embarrassed when I asked this question. ‘What about parking? Is there a parking aspect of this?’ A fella looked at me and said ‘Well, most of the owners usually have a driver’. I was like ‘oh, well I knew that. I was just asking,” he says with a smile.
At the heart of it, Patton is first and foremost a fan of the game. The new owner was even reluctant to take home a souvenir from one of his first tours of Dodger Stadium.
“The clubhouse manager said ‘if you want to take a bat home to your kids you can.’ I was like ‘I can’t take Matt Kemp’s bat’ and he said ‘No, you really can.'”
His son and daughter now have Kemp’s and Andre Ethier’s bats hanging in their rooms.
Ironically, Patton was never asked to be a part of the Rangers ownership group. When I asked him if he would have liked to have had the chance to own part of his favorite childhood baseball team, he paused for a moment.
“I think if that had happened it might have precluded this opportunity. Right now, even with the benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t undo it. I’m very happy with where I am right now.”
He’d be even happier if the Dodgers continue playing the way they are. Los Angeles (30-14) currently has the best record in Major League Baseball. There is a real possibility that the the team he owns could ultimately play the team he loved as a young Fort Worth teen, the Texas Rangers, in the World Series.
If that happens?
“If the Dodgers and Rangers ever play each other, my lifelong favorite team, I hope they never score a run.”
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