MINNEAPOLIS -- Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and sports lawyer Chuck Greenberg have had a long and difficult struggle to gain ownership of the Texas Rangers.
It's almost over.
The MLB ownership committee and executive council each unanimously approved the sale Wednesday at the quarterly owners' meetings. All that remains for the sale to be completed is a final vote of all teams Thursday, which appears to be a formality.
"I'm delighted we took the first two steps today in unanimity," commissioner Bud Selig said. "Tomorrow we'll come out after the meeting and tell you how the final vote came, but I suppose you could probably guess that."
The acquisition from current owner Tom Hicks had been delayed and then ended up in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The team's May filing included a plan to sell to the Greenberg-Ryan group, chosen as the new owner in January, but angry creditors successfully argued to reopen the bidding. The messy court fight dragged on for 11 weeks and included a contentious auction with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban last week.
The Greenberg-Ryan group won with a bid valued at $590 million.
"I know it was a difficult process. But everybody really conducted themselves well," Selig said. "Last week was a very tough week, but all is well that ends well. We're one step away from having a great ending for generations to come for the Texas Rangers."
With Ryan remaining in Texas to watch his first-place Rangers play the New York Yankees, Greenberg and two other lead investors, pipeline billionaire Ray Davis and XTO Energy founder Bob Simpson, traveled to Minneapolis to go before the ownership committee.
Greenberg said everything went smoothly and he was looking forward to putting the rancor of the last few months behind him and getting to work.
"They wanted to make sure there was a good handle on the transaction, the impact of what last week was and our operating philosophy," Greenberg said. "Those are fun things to talk about."
Most of the questioning, Greenberg and Davis said, centered on what the ownership group's philosophy will be going forward as they take the reins of the surprisingly successful team, which led the Angels by 8½ games in the AL West.
"Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan and the whole group have done an incredible job through scouting and player development and that's what we're going to continue to focus on," Greenberg said. "We want to elevate the sales and marketing of the franchise to the same level off the field that we're now performing on the field.
"If we can do that, this is a franchise that can operate at a very high level and be a credit to the game and the community and build a lot of memories for our fans."
Greenberg said he has already signed all the necessary documents to complete the transaction, and if everything goes well on Thursday it will be officially completed later in the day.
"I'm not going to lie to you; it's pretty cool," he said with a smile.
Even though approval seems all but certain, Greenberg said he isn't quite ready to relax yet.
"It did [help] to have a lot of the uncertainty removed," he said. "But I will exhale completely when it's truly done."