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Religious leaders urge MLB to stand by Frank McCourt

June 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Religious leaders from several Los Angeles churches gathered on Friday morning in support of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the team's owner.

The group met at the First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles to express their feelings about the team and Frank McCourt.

"We love the Los Angeles Dodgers. We love baseball in this town. The fans deserve fair treatment by the commissioner," said Rev. John J. Hunter during a news conference.

Frank McCourt is in the midst of well-publicized divorce and struggling with allegations of team mismanagement as details of a lavish lifestyle he allegedly shared with his ex-wife are revealed.

Ownership of the Dodgers is still at the heart of the divorce settlement. Jamie McCourt believes that the best course for the team is to find a new owner.

Frank McCourt is guarding hope that he can broker a deal with FOX that could bring in a reported $3 billion.

In a letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, about 20 church leaders said they're troubled by the, "rancor, media attacks and lack of equity that has been afforded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Frank McCourt as they seek to provide financial stability."

Selig recently ordered the organization to take over daily operations of the Dodgers due to the team's rocky finances.

Hunter said Selig should "approve the television deal that Mr. McCourt and the Dodgers have negotiated with Fox, which would then alleviate all of the anxiety about meeting payroll and certainly put the franchise on extremely solid financial ground."

According to Hunter, McCourt met with the church leaders and explained the Dodgers' financial standing and plans for the future. The group says they are now convinced McCourt's exit would worsen an already tough local economy and sour community morale.

The letter to Selig says that the Dodgers have a legacy in MLB and in the "struggle of African Americans during an era of segregation," noting that Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play in the MLB, played for the Dodgers. Calling Frank McCourt a man of "courage and integrity with a sense of purpose," church leaders urged Selig to stand by him.

"We are confident that though he may have fallen down somewhat, he has the courage of his convictions to rise back up again and continue the strong legacy of the Los Angeles Dodgers," leaders said in the letter.

Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch said Frank McCourt received a copy of the letter, "but beyond that, he and the team will decline comment." Frank McCourt's spokesman Steven Sugerman said he had no comment about the letter.

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