The Texas Team Owners Nobody Knows
Texas. It's the land where everything is bigger and sports owners stand out. Jerry Jones builds the biggest in-stadium TV at Cowboys Stadium and Mark Cuban isn't afraid to say anything, until a superstitious code of silence led to the Mavericks first ever championship last season.
And yet, two billionaires own a Texas team that will play in it's second straight World Series and even Rangers fans would be hard pressed to come up with their names. And they both couldn't be happier about that.
When Tom Hicks' debt-laden troubles forced a sale of the Rangers in bankruptcy court, the Texas shootout for the team was between Nolan Ryan, accompanied by a lawyer named Chuck Greenberg, versus Cuban.Many were shocked to find out that the auction was in fact won by the Ryan group.
Few were even aware that Ryan or Greenberg had recruited huge money to win the courthouse auction battle.
Sitting quietly in the back of the room that night were two well-heeled energy titans named Bob Simpson and Ray Davis, who put up more than half of the $593 million price tag on their own.
Simpson is co-founder and former chairman of XTO Energy, which was purchased in June 2010 by Exxon Mobil for a reported $31 billion, just two months before he went all in on the Rangers.
Davis was formerly the co-CEO of a publicly traded natural gas pipeline company called Energy Transfer Partners. He stepped down in 2007 and sold $600 million worth of stock, with more than $800 million more in stock he has yet to cash in.
So while Ryan gets all the TV credit as the managing partner sitting right behind home plate, it's mostly Simpson and Davis' money he's playing with, along with the money of 16 other investors.
Many sports owners are often rich men who are thrilled with the national spotlight that comes with owning a team. Not Simpson or Davis.
At a rare press conference featuring the two in March to announce that Greenberg would no longer be with the team, Davis wasn't kidding when he said, "Neither Bob or I expect ever to do another press conference."
Through Rangers spokesman John Blake, both Simpson and Davis, not surprisingly, declined to be interviewed by CNBC.
For his part, Simpson, who has been a Rangers fan since the team moved from Washington in 1972, said the two would "to be involved in day-to-day operations, but more as supportive and wise counselors with a little experience to offer."
He later told the Fort Worth Star-Telegramthat his "idea of fun would not be losing a lot of money."
Makes sense given Simpson's love of money itself. It turns out Simpson is one of the world's biggest coin collectors. Last year, he paid $1.7 million for a rare cent. Months later, his one-of-a-kind set of 1943 bronze error Lincoln cents were displayed in public for the first time.
Somehow I'm sure Simpson, and his partner Ray Davis, wouldn't mind starting a World Series ring collection sometime soon.
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