Dave Stewart Leading Nashville Group Prioritizing MLB Ownership for People of Color

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVApril 19, 2022

Former Oakland Athletics player Dave Stewart throws out the ceremonial first pitch before a baseball game between the Athletics and the San Francisco Giants in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Former MLB pitcher Dave Stewart has been brought on by the Music City Baseball group, which is hoping to field an MLB expansion team, the Nashville Stars—to lead its Diverse Equity Ownership Initiative, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Howard Bryant of ESPN.

Per those reports, Stewart will focus on landing investors of color. The group will include former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and is expected to raise around $2 billion for the project.

"The time has come for Black ownership in Major League Baseball," Stewart told Nightengale.

He told Bryant, meanwhile, that Nashville is on the league's short list of potential expansion locations.

"We started this process four years ago. Nashville is a fast-growing city. It has a beautiful population of people," he said. "There's so much going on here. So, MLB put Nashville as one of its top places for expansion, and I think that triggered the idea to go down this path."

He added that finding new stadium deals for the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays remained Major League Baseball's priority ahead of expansion. But Bryant reported that expansion could take place within three to five years, according to both Stewart and other MLB sources.

The league last added expansion teams in 1998 with the Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks.

As Bryant noted, a "majority minority-owned team in baseball would be a historic first, and the culmination of a quest for Stewart, who has pursued ownership in the past with the Miami Marlins and the A's."

While Magic Johnson owns a 2 percent stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers and Derek Jeter previously owned a 4 percent stake in the Miami Marlins, MLB ownership is overwhelmingly white.

The name Nashville Stars would be an homage to the Negro League team of the same name that played from the 1930s to 1950s.

Stewart, 65, played 16 years at the MLB level in the 1980s and 1990s. He was a one-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion, the 1989 World Series MVP and a two-time American League Championship Series MVP.