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Dodgers owner Frank McCourt deserves a second chance, some L.A. church leaders say [Updated]

June 10, 2011 | 12:27 pm

FirstAME
Embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt appears to be making a bid to show Major League Baseball that God –- or at least the leadership of some primarily African American Los Angeles-area churches -– is on his side.

After a meeting with McCourt last week, a group of 20 ministers of Baptist and Methodist churches wrote a letter to baseball Commissioner Bud Selig urging him to give McCourt a second chance.

"We are deeply troubled by the rancor, media attacks and lack of equity that has been afforded the Los Angeles Dodgers and Frank McCourt as they seek to provide financial stability to one of baseball's most notable franchises," the letter stated.

John J. Hunter, senior minister of First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles said at a news conference in front of the church Friday that McCourt's "inner circle" reached out to the pastors, who held a breakfast meeting with him to hear his appeal. During the meeting, Hunter said, pastors heard from former players such as "Sweet Lou" Johnson and Maury Wills as well as from McCourt.

The pastors' letter cited the Dodgers' history in the Civil Rights movement, as the home of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play for a major league baseball team. Hunter called McCourt a "faithful steward" of the franchise.

Hunter said McCourt did not make any promise to donate to the churches, nor did he offer any personal benefit to the ministers.

Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch confirmed that McCourt had received a copy of the letter but said beyond that, McCourt has no comment on the matter.

[Updated, 5 p.m.: The Dodgers released the following statement: "Mr. McCourt is very appreciative of the incredible support the clergy leaders have offered. Mr. McCourt has developed strong ties with diverse constituencies throughout Los Angeles since he purchased the Dodgers in 2004."]

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-- Abby Sewell

Photo: Rev. John J. Hunter, senior minister at the First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles, addresses the media to express displeasure with the manner in which Major League Baseball has treated the Los Angeles Dodgers and Frank McCourt. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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