R.I.P. Brad Corbett- A Texas Rangers Fan in the Owner’s Box
I had been a Ranger fan before Brad Corbett bought the team in 1974. But he took over the team as I was entering high school and within a couple of years, able to drive to the ballpark on my own. Once that happened, it was game on. I was tearing through the sports pages of both Dallas newspapers. Yes, back then we had two and I actually preferred the Dallas Times Herald’s sports coverage. Brad Corbett was not a baseball man. He was a baseball FAN. As I learned much later, these things don’t mix. But at the time, I loved an owner who would head down to the clubhouse and tear someone a new one. Someone who actually cried after a loss. Most remember him only as the man who fired Billy Martin. I choose to remember him for the rest.
The year 1977 was Corbett’s banner year. We won 94 games that year, the most in our history and un-matched until the 90’s. Two of our opening day players are associated with the team today. Tom Grieve and Jim Sundberg. More amazingly we did it after arguably the most bizarre week in club history as we had four different managers, one (Eddie Stanky) for just one game. We were actually featured in a Tonight Show with Johnny Carson monologue. That made me proud and embarrassed at the same time.
Brad Corbett brought winning baseball to Texas
(Photo credit: Boston Globe)
Having his hand in everything, Corbett played a role in a four team eleven player trade the following year. The trade netted us Al Oliver and Jon Matlack. We won 87 games but finished only five back of the Royals. We had Jon Miller in the radio booth and listening to games was a blast. My favorite Ranger moment (still) was opening day that year when Richie Zisk homered off Goose Gossage as we defeated the hated Yankees. They weren’t even called walk-offs yet. We finished five games out again in 1979 and Corbett was done. While he was partially responsible for a lot of free agents and quite a few trades, on paper only one huge mistake happened that year, trading away Dave Righetti. But oh yeah, Corbett hired Eric Nadel to join Miller in the booth and he’s still here.
It was all too much for Corbett. He was a homer. He hated to lose. He sold the team to oil man Eddie Chiles and we waited and waited to be competitive again.
We know now, meddlesome owners make bad GM’s (Same goes for football Jerry). But as a fan ready to leave my high school years and take on the world, Bradford Gary Corbett, from the Bronx, gave us a taste of big city baseball we wouldn’t see for another thirty years. Thanks Brad.