After a dramatic turn of events that led the previous owners of the Quintana Roo Tigres to pull the team from the Mexican Baseball League, a beloved figure came to the rescue.
Former Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela pulled off an 11th-hour move to keep one of Mexico’s most beloved baseball franchises in the fold next season, when the World Series winner purchased the Tigres along with a group of businessmen. It is Valenzuela’s first foray into ownership following a playing career spanning more than two decades in Major League Baseball and both the summer and winter leagues in Mexico.
“Baseball has been everything to me,” Valenzuela said after the deal was announced. “[As] a businessman, I now have the opportunity to remain [in baseball] with a club that has great tradition and fans that have identified with it.”
The move comes on the heels of fellow Los Angeles sports legend Magic Johnson’s being named to an executive role within the Lakers — along with his ownership stake in the Dodgers. And Valenzuela also joins a growing fraternity of U.S. Hispanics (he became a U.S. citizen in 2015) who have joined the ranks of sports franchise ownership in recent years.
Staying within baseball and the Los Angeles area, Angels owner Arturo “Arte” Moreno made history in 2003 when he became the first Mexican-American to buy an MLB team. Purchasing the club at $180 million, he has increased the value of the team almost 10 times over according to his Forbes magazine profile. Under Moreno’s stewardship, the team has won six AL West titles since then, with the most recent coming in 2014.
In the NFL, a group of Latino entertainers made a splash in 2009 when they purchased a minority stake in the Miami Dolphins. Cuban-American power couple Gloria and Emilio Estefan are part of the group, and singer Marc Anthony, of Puerto Rican descent, is also a member of the group responsible for buying a small part of the franchise from principal owner Stephen Ross.