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"If he and I were to run for mayor there," Short said the other evening, "I think he would win."
Short's first good move was hiring the dynamic Martin. His second was peddling the team for $10 million shortly before this season opened to a group of Metroplex tycoons spearheaded by Brad Corbett, a youngish, portly, plastic piping manufacturer whose frenetic pacing about suggests an advanced case of St. Vitus's dance. However, neither Short nor Corbett will assume full credit for this largely fortuitous transaction.
Buying the Rangers was the farthest thing from Corbett's mind when he sat down with Palm Beach Attorney Francis T. Ryan this spring to discuss a possible merger with another pipe firm. It so happens that Ryan is also Short's personal lawyer and his former partner in the ownership of another team bartered by Short, the Minneapolis Lakers.
"I could see Corbett was a dynamo," says Ryan, understating the man's energy. "I told him he ought to own a baseball team in his own backyard. He seemed interested, so I got Short on the phone and told him I had a fellow who might just be his man."
Short's response was predictable: "Hold onto him, for God's sake."
Corbett, with help from Bill Harvey, a Fort Worth real-estate developer, immediately rounded up a group of heavy investors and consummated the deal, which will be final at the end of this month. Short will retain a 10% interest.
A second happy accident occurred. Although Corbett had played some minor league baseball, he had not the vaguest notion of how to run a major league franchise. Fortunately, he did know somebody who knew something—Dr. Robert W. Brown, a distinguished Fort Worth cardiologist who, as Bobby Brown, played in the New York Yankee infields of the late 1940s and early '50s and had a World Series batting average of .439.
"They [the Corbett group] began to ask me a lot of basic questions," says Dr. Brown, at 49 still lean and athletic looking. "I was just trying to be helpful. It never occurred to me to get back in baseball after 20 years."
To his own surprise he found himself taking a two-month leave of absence from his practice to become "interim president" of the Rangers.