Former Rangers owner Brad Corbett dies at age 75

Jim Sundberg fondly recalled his first years as a big leaguer, playing for the Texas Rangers and owner Brad Corbett.

Corbett, who owned the team from 1974-80, was known for his impulsive behavior. Sundberg saw it first-hand, joining Corbett on a last-minute, off-season hunting trip to Big Bend in West Texas. He also remembered a trip to the Bahamas that Corbett put together during spring training when the Rangers trained in Pompano Beach, Fla.

"I loved Brad Corbett as a friend and as an owner," Sundberg said. "He loved baseball, he wanted to win and he was great to us."

Corbett passed away Monday at the age of 75. His daughter, Pamela Corbett Murrin, told The Associated Press he died in his sleep on Christmas Eve.

Corbett, a Fort Worth businessman, might be best remembered for his time with the Rangers for the 1977 season when they had four managers - Frank Lucchesi, Eddie Stanky, Connie Ryan and Billy Hunter.

Lucchesi managed the first 62 games, but his season got off to a rocky start when second baseman Lenny Randle punched him during spring training. Stanky then managed only one game, followed by Ryan, who managed six, before Hunter managed the final 93.

"I'm not sure all of those changes were his fault," Sundberg said. "Eddie Stanky stayed for only one day. Then Connie Ryan, who was a coach at the time, didn't want to do it. Our fourth manager, Billy Hunter, was there by June 30. So we had four managers in three months.

"It was a very unique experience, but we had a good team that just underperformed in the first half."

The '77 season, despite the managerial carousel, was one of the best in Rangers history. The team went 60-33 under Hunter, winning a franchise-record 94 games. That record stood until the 1999 team won 95 games.

Corbett also was heavily involved in baseball operations, and he memorably made a trade with Indians executive Gabe Paul while both were standing at a urinal in a famous Fort Worth restaurant.

Throughout Corbett's tenure, the Rangers traded away three future Hall of Fame pitchers -- Ferguson Jenkins, Gaylord Perry and Bert Blyleven -- as well as Mike Hargrove, Jeff Burroughs and Toby Harrah.

Sundberg, in fact, was the only player to remain with the Rangers throughout Corbett's time as owner from start to finish.

Corbett, originally from Long Island, N.Y., made his fortune by building a plastic pipe company from the ground up and then realized his dream of owning a baseball team when he bought the Rangers from Bob Short for $9.5 million on May 29, 1974. His ownership group included Fort Worth Star-Telegram publisher Amon Carter Jr., and former Yankees infielder Bobby Brown was named team president.

The Rangers finished second three times but failed to make the postseason in Corbett's tenure. He sold the team to oil man Eddie Chiles in 1980.

"The Texas Rangers are saddened to hear of the death of Brad Corbett," the team said in a statement.

"His tenure as owner was marked by a passion and drive to bring a winning team to the fans of North Texas. ... The spirit in which Mr. Corbett served as Owner of the Rangers will be remembered always. The organization extends its deepest sympathies to his family and friends on his passing."

Drew Davison


Twitter: @drewdavison

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