MLB player to owner: There’s a history to A-Rod’s idea

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(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Derek Jeter is the only former MLB player-turned-owner today, but the practice used to be common

The New York Post report that Alex Rodriguez may be interested in purchasing the New York Mets, coming just two years after former teammate Derek Jeter purchased a significant interest in the Miami Marlins, might herald the resurrection of a trend that has been dead for a literal lifetime: former MLB players as owners.

Citing unnamed sources, the Post reported Friday that Rodriguez was “kicking the tires” on entering an auction to purchase the team.

The current owners, the Wilpon family, thought they had a deal with Steve Cohen to buy the Mets for $2.6 billion. But Cohen backed out when the Wilpons insisted on retaining controlling interest for several more years.

The Post sources characterized Rodriguez’s interest as “a long shot” and contingent on being part of a group similar to Jeter’s. In 2017, Jeter’s $25 million stake was combined with 15 other investors to create the winning $1.2 billion offer. Jeter became the controlling partner and CEO.

For decades, major league teams have virtually without exception been run either by such groups —  sometimes family-based such as the Wilpons — or by corporate entities. Save for Jeter and Nolan Ryan — who briefly held an ownership stake in the Texas Rangers a few years back — in every case, those families or groups made their billions in enterprises other than baseball.

There was a day, however, when closely ownership’s first-person connection to the field of play was not at all unusual. In fact, for most of the game’s first three-quarters of a century, the concept of former MLB players as owners was a bedrock of baseball’s structure. While some struggled, others at times built very successful, even dominant, organizations.

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