The Houston Astros are being investigat­ed by Major League Baseball over the team’s conduct, but the sport has made owner Jim Crane a billionair­e.


Jim Crane sat atop

the baseball world three months ago. His Houston Astros were the World Series favorite after racking up an MLB-best 107 wins during the regular season. A second title in three years would cement them as a modern-day dynasty.

That dream turned into a nightmare: Houston not only lost the World Series in a heartbreak­ing Game 7 but also endured a pair of PR disasters. A team executive had reportedly taunted female journalist­s during the playoffs about the Astros’ acquisitio­n of a player accused of domestic violence (he had been charged in 2018 and was suspended by the league for 75 games; the charges, which he denied, were later dropped). Then, in November, MLB opened a wide-ranging investigat­ion triggered by a report that the Astros had set up a camera in center field to steal the opposing catcher’s hand signs. Neither the Astros nor Crane would comment for this story.

There’s no need to cry for Crane: The Astros’ value has nearly quadrupled, to $1.8 billion, since the Houston entreprene­ur led a group that acquired the club in 2011. His estimated 40% stake is worth $600 million, pushing his net worth to $1.3 billion. Baseball has been a staple in his life: At Central Missouri State, now known as the University of Central Missouri, Crane pitched and earned a degree in industrial safety in 1976. After a stint in the insurance business, he borrowed $10,000 from his sister and launched an air-freight logistics business, EGL, in 1984. He pocketed more than $300 million (pretax) selling EGL to Apollo Global Management for $2 billion in 2007, and soon after reportedly took three unsuccessf­ul swings at buying a Major League franchise. He finally connected in 2011, securing the Astros—“a dream come true,” he said at the time. Crane, 65, also owns the Floridian National Golf

Club and has launched a new firm, Crane Worldwide Logistics, which operates in 30 countries and had estimated revenue of $900 million-plus last year.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States