Changeup, Chapter 15

"You want to do what?!?"

"You heard me, Mike."

"I don't even know how to go about it. As you can imagine, I've never dealt with a client that had this much money. I've never handled this sort of transaction. There's going to have to be brokers, lawyers and consultants involved."

"Look, I'm not expecting you to be the expert or do it all yourself. I just know that I can trust you and I was hoping you'd coordinate this whole thing."

"I'll put together a valuation and then send you over a proposal to approve. This isn't going to be an overnight process, Joe."

"I understand. Thanks, Mike."


It didn't happen overnight, but three months of meetings, contracts and negotiations later, Joe dropped his pen on the desk, the ink drying on the last signature.

The baseball season was over, but it still took the top headline in the paper:


Joe smiled as he glanced at the article. He only skimmed, as there weren't any details he wasn't already aware of.

He had butterflies in his stomach as he stepped up to the podium. He found it funny this was the part he was most nervous about. He'd just completed a purchase he could only have dreamed of 6 months ago, and he was sweating a few journalists. The irony made him smile, which made him look far more relaxed than he felt.

The questions came fast, and Joe's head swam. Where had he gotten the money? Were there other investors? Did he have any experience running teams before? No college degree? Would that put him at a disadvantage? Would the team stay in Kansas City, or did he plan on moving them?

Joe tried to keep up, but his one and two word answers only let the questions queue faster.

Finally, one journalist in the back caught his attention. "You're the youngest team owner in baseball history. What do you think you'll differently, and why?", she asked.

Joe paused to collect his thoughts. He thought about the games he'd seen with Dad. He thought about the thrills he'd felt watching the World Series and the All-Star games. The players he'd looked up to - Rickey Henderson, Joe Carter, Bo Jackson, Nolan Ryan.

He stepped around the podium, slowly but confidently, like a pastor preparing for an alter call.

"I love baseball. Have since I can remember, and probably before that. My dad was a great man, and that's what we shared - baseball. Playing, coaching, watching, analyzing, cheering; we did it all."

"Baseball was about believing. Believing you could get the hit. Believing your team would win the Series. When they didn't, you believed there was always next year."

"It was affordable. It brought communities together. Even during the Great Depression, stadiums were packed with families. Today, I look around and over half the stadium is empty...just like baseball is today."

Joe paused while he fished something out of his coat pocket.

"This is the ball my dad and I played with since I was able to sit up and roll it across the floor to him. It's signed by George Brett and Whitey Herzog. You may have heard of them; they're in the Hall of Fame. The cover's coming off and it's far from the shiny white it was when they signed it. That's because we played baseball with it. Today, someone would simply sell it on eBay and pocket the cash. Then it would sit in a display case on some soulless executive's desk in a gray high rise."

"I want kids to enjoy baseball again, like they used to. I want families to turn off the TV and put down their PlayStation controllers and come to the ballpark. I want them to bond and build memories as fond as mine."

"Baseball used to be the national pastime, and if I have my way, it will be again."