Imagine, if you will, an alternate universe, where Donald Trump is not a controversial presidential contender.
Instead, he’s the owner of the Indians. Only, they don’t play in Cleveland, but in Tampa.
That scenario isn’t entirely far-fetched, as the billionaire made a serious offer to buy the Indians in 1983.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer uncovered a letter dated Feb. 15, 1983, from Trump’s attorney to then-Indians President Gabe Paul.
“My client, Donald J. Trump, is interested in purchasing the Cleveland Indians Baseball team,” the letter reads.
“I am authorized to offer Thirteen Million dollars for same free from debt and subject to usual review and acceptance of all contracts in effect.”
Several things about this boggle the mind. Trump, a Major League Baseball owner? Just imagine a critical season-ending series — or even playoffs — between Trump’s Indians and George Steinbrenner’s Yankees.
And $13 million for a baseball team? That will barely buy a no-hit, no-field shortstop these days. (Forbes calculated the Indians’ franchise value at $825 million in 2015).
The Plain Dealer reported that year that Trump upped his offer to $34 million, and there were even rumors he had sealed the deal. In the end, Trump’s bid was rejected, in part because he would not commit to keeping the team in Cleveland more than three years. Tampa was mentioned as one possible relocation destination. The team eventually sold in 1986 for a reported $35 million to the Jacobs brothers.
This Sporting News article was published on Mar. 6, 2016. The website cleveland.com republished then-Plain Dealer writer Brent Larkin’s original Oct. 8, 2015 article Oct. 25, 2016. For more on Trump the sports owner, see http://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/13255737/five-things-know-donald-trump-usfl-experience and http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2015/08/06/worst-owner-in-sports-history-donald-trumps-new-jersey-generals-the-usfl-vs-nfl-lawsuit/