Myrtle Beach Pelicans principal owner Chuck Greenberg's foray into Major League Baseball was short, but not sweet.
The stunning development that Greenberg has resigned as chief executive officer and managing partner of the Texas Rangers after just seven months has been a work in progress, even though he might not have fully known that he was stepping on toes within the organization and the ownership group.
The club announced Friday that club president Nolan Ryan will assume the title of CEO and oversee all aspects of the Rangers operations on both the baseball and the business side. Greenberg has sold his interest to others in the Rangers ownership group and will no longer be associated with the franchise.
Greenberg put together the ownership group - known as Rangers Baseball Express - that purchased the Rangers from former owner Tom Hicks in August. Growing differences between the charismatic CEO, Ryan and board co-chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, who are the ownership group's largest investors, had been an ongoing issue out of the public eye.
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"In reality, management styles and chemistries sometimes don't fit together. That was the situation with Chuck and the board and Nolan," Davis said. "Chuck made a huge contribution, and we wish him all the best success in the world in whatever he endeavors to do."
Simpson said Greenberg turned down the opportunity for another position in the group, one "not in the full role that he was enjoying."
Greenberg could not be reached for comment by The Sun News and The Associated Press, but acknowledged differences in opinion among the owners in his statement released by the team.
"I have great respect for the Texas Rangers franchise and am enormously proud of all we have accomplished together since August," Greenberg said in the statement. "Unfortunately, Nolan Ryan, the co-chairmen and I have somewhat different styles. While I am disappointed we did not work through our differences, I remain wholeheartedly committed to doing what's right for the franchise.
"Together we concluded it is best for all concerned for me to sell my interest back to Rangers Baseball Express and move on. I do so with a heavy heart."
The full effect of Greenberg's departure on the Pelicans probably won't be known for a few years.
The purchase of the Rangers by Greenberg's group led to the Pelicans' announcement in September that the Advanced Class-A franchise was changing Major League Baseball affiliations from the Atlanta Braves to the Rangers. The Player Development Contract with the Rangers runs through the end of the 2014 baseball season. The Pelicans had been a Braves affiliate since their inaugural season in 1999.
Pelicans General Manager Scott Brown hopes Greenberg's disassociation from the Rangers won't affect the Pelicans' future affiliation with the reigning American League champions.
"Both sides are gung-ho about the new relationship and looking forward to a great year," Brown said. "... I would think the future is bright and we'll go well past the four years."
Brown said the Rangers have already made investments to benefit their minor league players by upgrading the team's clubhouse at BB&T Coastal Field with more televisions, a rubberized floor and sandwich counter. "They've been great to work with," Brown said.
Brown said he received confirmation from Rangers Senior Director of Player Development Scott Servais that a scheduled exhibition game March 29 between the Rangers and Coastal Carolina at BB&T Field is still planned. "That game is set and is proceeding as scheduled," Brown said.
Greenberg had only a small ownership stake in the Rangers, though he assembled the ownership group with the intention of running the club. The purchase required the outbidding of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in a bankruptcy court auction for a final purchase price of $593 million.
It appears an accumulation of events caused disharmony in a Rangers organization that seemed to have found normalcy after going through the bankruptcy-ravaged end to the Hicks ownership era.
The problems date to late last season, shortly after Rangers Baseball Express was approved as owners Aug. 12. According to Fort Worth Star-Telegram sources, members of the Atlanta organization weren't pleased with how Greenberg shifted the Rangers' Advanced-A affiliate from Bakersfield, Calif., to Myrtle Beach. The sources say discontent reached the commissioner's office at MLB headquarters.
Braves Director of Player Development Kurt Kemp said Friday he's not aware of any Braves complaints. "I never expressed any displeasure, nor did anyone express any displeasure to me [in our organization]," Kemp said. "... We knew they were in the hunt to buy that club [contract] and had every right to move their club there."
The Star-Telegram reports that in December members of the baseball operations staff were taken aback by how involved Greenberg became in daily internal discussions during the winter meetings. The paper says a third trip to Arkansas on the final day of the meetings to see Cliff Lee wasn't well-received.
More recently, Greenberg and Ryan were pitted against each other as an extension for general manager Jon Daniels was being pounded out. The Star-Telegram says Greenberg sold the suite at Rangers Ballpark that Daniels had used to host families of front-office personnel as well as conduct meetings. The suite was to be part of Daniels' extension, and it was sold despite objections from Ryan, according to the newspaper. Daniels agreed to an extension through 2015 last week.
Greenberg is also an owner of the Class A short-season State College (Pa.) Spikes. Brown, who is employed by the Greenberg Sports Group company that manages both the Spikes and Pelicans, said he doesn't expect Greenberg's influence on the Pelicans to change much because he was always actively involved in the team.
"Chuck is never far away; he's always involved," Brown said. "I see him continuing his presence as a very engaged minor league owner."
McClatchy Newspapers reporter Jeff Wilson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.