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Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

October 6, 2011 at 10:56 PM

A closer look at Mariners minority owner Chris Larson

Ever since I arrived in Seattle, I’ve heard talk of how Mariners minority owner Chris Larson would eventually take over the team. How he owned the largest stake of any owner other than majority shareholder Hiroshi Yamauchi, was a diehard baseball fan and had the type of financial clout needed to pull it off.
It made for a nice bit of local wishing for some fans. After all, Yamauchi may have helped save baseball in Seattle, but he’s never been to a game here over the 19 years his ownership group has been in charge.
Larson goes to plenty of games. Has a baseball memorabilia collection that would make some museums proud.
The best part of all? He was so media-shy that nobody really knew anything about him. And there’s nothing like a lack of information to keep a good baseball ownership dream going strong. Nothing at all to take the steam out of it.
So, when rumors were flying fast and furious throughout the summer of 2008 that Larson was going to buy out Yamauchi and put an end to Seattle’s baseball misery as evidenced by a 101-loss season that year, everyone pretty much assumed the story had legs. I was able to get an email response out of Larson that September in which he dismissed the notion he would buy a majority share.
That was such big news, we made it one part of a Five-Part series called Rebuilding the Mariners. But even after Larson himself threw cold water on the idea, many observers still felt he was just biding his time.
Now, based on what we’ve found present-day about the extent of Larson’s ongoing financial challenges, we start to see just how far-fetched those rumors may actually have been. That at the time many felt Larson was about to buy more of the team, he was actually trying to sell off a third of his shares so he could pay down a loan.
The role of ownership in the future of the Mariners is becoming more of a talking point with each passing day. Some fans are content to let the current rebuilding play out and watch young players mature while payroll heads downward — even if it takes years until those players are ready.
Others would like to see more money put in by team owners right now to help that process along.
Whatever camp you fall into, the decisions made by ownership will play a role. So, the more we can know about those owners — especially the bigger ones, who would have to foot the most of any new money added to the team via a capital call (which hasn’t happened in over a decade) — the more we’ll be just a bit closer to having a grasp on the situation.

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