By Paul Cobb
“Black Magic Resurrects Dodger Blue.” The Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson, baseball’s first Black player; and Earvin”Magic” Johnson, former Lakers owner, is baseball’s first Black owner. In the $2 Billion baseball card collage above are pictured; Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe, Roy Campanella, John Roseboro, Tommy Davis, Joe Black , Junior Gilliam and Willie Mays congratulating Campanella (top right). Graphic by Adam L. Turner.
Within 48 hours of the Earvin “Magic” Johnson investment group’s $2.15 Billion purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team announced the home opener on April 10 was a sellout with season packages being purchased at a record-setting pace.
Like a perfectly timed Hollywood script, written for a movie release on the eve of Easter, it was a vintage Black Magic show-time feature: “Black Magic Resurrects Dodger Blue.”
His winning, hopeful, attitude has already re-energized the fans to dig deeper for the green that will keep one of the American pastime’s most storied franchises out of the red.
Magic, sensing that he’s on the verge of a mega-marketing move, is now rebranding himself as Mr. Earvin Johnson, to manage his own monetary and marketing future.
Los Angeles proved not to be too much for Magic because he kept his wits, earnings and reputation intact – in the midst of the glitterati capital of the world, in the city, ironically, where Jackie Robinson, the first Black Dodger, rose to stardom.
Earvin Johnson captured the legacy of Baseball’s most celebrated Black player. Robinson, like Johnson, was a civil rights activist and a successful entrepreneur who also advocated for Black ownership.
Undaunted by HIV/AIDS, Johnson is the poster child of hope and optimism, who, by example, will lead other Black athletes and entertainers away from the lure of the fast-break, flashy pace of a show-time life-style to a wiser pooling of their resources. And, equally important, more urban Black youth will become interested in a sandlot revival.
Many critics are saying Johnson’s group paid too much and were “head-faked” into an ill-advised investment. But Johnson is already speaking optimistically of how the upcoming media package bidding could land a deal north of $4 billion, possibly opening an opportunity for the Dodgers to own their own Yankee-like network. Or, better yet, a player’s pool could joint venture a TV deal.
Johnson, basketball’s greatest point guard, managed to “steal home” like Robinson did in the 1955 World Series against the Yankees. With his staggering $2 billion dollar eye-popping purchase, he almost guarantees no more empty ballparks and no more unpopular owners.