Ex-WB exec takes swing with troubled team

Brooklyn-born and a Dodgers fan since the age of 6, former Warner Bros. CEO and co-chairman Bob Daly is heading to first base on a new career.

He’ll be named managing partner and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Dodgers today. To go along with his new title and ensure that he will be more than a figurehead for the team, Daly also has acquired a minority stake in the professional baseball club from News Corp.’s Fox Group.

The team, which finished with a disappointing 77-85 record this season, will make the announcement at a 10 a.m. Staples Center news conference.

While Major League Baseball must approve Daly’s appointment and investment in the team, it’s unlikely he’ll have any problems. The deal is understood to have been completed Wednesday.

Daly’s name has been whispered in conjunction with the Dodgers for some time, with speculation heating up after Bob Graziano, who joined the Dodgers in 1986, was fired as president of the club last month (Daily Variety, Oct. 4).

Daly is widely regarded in Hollywood as a fierce baseball fan, having followed his beloved Dodgers since he was a kid. He was part of a group that attempted to buy the team from Peter O’Malley two years ago, but lost out to News Corp. topper Rupert Murdoch’s $311 million bid for the team in March 1998.

Daly’s presence could serve to take some heat off Fox execs, who are hoping the respected exec’s passion for the sport and team can serve to reignite the foundering squad.

Though Fox, which operates the team, funded one of the league’s highest payrolls (understood to total $79.2 million on opening day), the team has been a disappointment in its past two seasons, leaving many to question Fox’s management of the squad.

In 1998, the Dodgers finished with an 83-79 record and in third place in the National League West; this year the team finished 23 games behind N.L. West champs Arizona.

Neither News Corp. nor Fox execs returned calls seeking comment.

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