Jim Crane, who lost out on an opportunity to buy the Texas Rangers last year, has acquired the Houston Astros for $680 million. The Houston freight executive lost out in his bid to acquire the Rangers last year, not just because he was outbid but because of a history of charges of racial discrimination in hiring at his company. He put aside $8.5 milliion in 2001 to deal with discrimination charges at his company, Eagle Global Logistics. The EEOC found probable cause that Eagle had failed or refused to promote blacks, Hispanics and women into managerial jobs, demoted women and created a hostile environment, and paid minorities less than white males for comparable jobs.
The [EEOC] report cited an accusation that Crane told his managers not to hire blacks because "once you hire blacks, you can never fire them." Witnesses said Crane did not permit Eagle to advertise job openings because he did not want to build up files of applications by qualified minority job-seekers. Crane and his company aggressively fought the E.E.O.C. and similar allegations in a civil lawsuit brought by some former employees. But Crane, without admitting wrongdoing, eventually signed a consent decree that settled the charges for $8.5 million. The Houston Chronice reports that Crane sued the EEOC and recovered $6 million in fines.
Baseball appears ready to approve the deal despite the cloud over Crane. If he does become one of 30 Major League club owners, baseball will risk the reputation it has built as an institution that has provided broad opportunities for blacks and Hispanics. Both MLB and the Astros will be under special scrutiny. We know we'll be watching more than balls and strikes.
You can read the full story at the New York Times.
In other news: Michelle Obama Enters 2012 Campaign.