Chuck Greenberg has attended many Major League Baseball Winter Meetings over the years, but there’s no question that the one held last week in Indianapolis had a different feel to it.
In years past, Greenberg, a Pittsburgh-based corporate attorney at the firm of Pepper Hamilton, LLP, had been an attendee on the Minor League side of things. Greenberg ran Curve Baseball, a mini-Minors empire that included the Altoona Curve, the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate; and the State College Spikes, the Buccos’ short-season club. Greenberg extended his reach outside of Pennsylvania when his ownership group purchased the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Carolina League.
His annual trips to the Winter Meetings had been all about furthering the progress of those clubs. He’s since sold the Curve, so his focus was on the Spikes and Pelicans each December when all of baseball, Minor and Major Leagues alike, came together.
But this year, you might have had to forgive Greenberg for “big-leaguing” people. He would never do that in actuality — Greenberg gets raves for all who come in contact with him precisely for doing the opposite — but he’s preparing to move into a new company. He’s part of an ownership group which has been chosen to buy the Texas Rangers, which would make his other baseball endeavors, well, Minor League.
Some feel Greenberg is the front-runner to purchase the American League franchise, partially because he’s assembled a very strong ownership group. Chief among the prospective owners is none other than Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, already synonymous with the organization in many ways and the team’s president. Greenberg has made a habit of including some pretty impressive people in his ownership groups, a sign of how willing he is to take a back seat publicity-wise. His Curve baseball group included Pittsburgh celebrities such as Jerome Bettis and Mario Lemieux. Working with Ryan might be the perfect fit for a new ownership group in Arlington, Texas.
There are Pittsburgh ties to some fairly important people in front offices throughout baseball. There’s Jack Zduriencik (Mariners general manager), John Mirabelli (assistant GM, Indians) and Tony LaCava (assistant GM, Blue Jays), just to name a few. Greenberg would represent the first owner, and having a Jewish owner from the Burgh among the MLB elite certainly would be exciting.
Greenberg’s successful acquisition of the Rangers means a nice little Jewish Pittsburgh power block in the Dallas area, doesn’t it? Of course, Greenberg would be the anti-Mark Cuban. Not that Greenberg has any problems being up front and among fans. It’s just that he’d probably be a little bit more reserved than the Dallas Mavericks owner. Maybe he’ll be the ying to Cuban’s yang. In any event, the Rangers would be getting a tremendous boost if Greenberg gets the nod.
“Chuck is a very unique, talented person,” said Todd Parnell, who worked alongside Greenberg in Altoona, State College and Myrtle Beach before moving on to become the COO of the new minor league team in Richmond, Va., (the Flying Squirrels). “He gets the most out of the people around him in a way that is very positive. People really like him. He’s a great motivator and teacher of different disciplines. He does all those things at the same time. And he’s one of the most loyal friends out there. All of those attributes would serve him well in Texas.”
(Jonathan Mayo, The Chronicle’s sports columnist and a staff writer for MLB.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)