Frank McCourt took the witness stand late Tuesday, launching his campaign for sole custody of the Dodgers.
He is short, with a jutting chin and a reedy voice that betrays his Boston roots. Sitting straight-backed in the witness chair, he answered questions with the clipped efficiency of an experienced witness.
He must be the home team, because he started off on defense. He fielded questions from David Boies, who has a reputation for turning witnesses against themselves, for getting them to put the noose around their own necks and then step off the ledge.
In the first thirty minutes or so on Tuesday, Frank seemed more than up to the challenge.
After all, he made his fortune in court. He fought 11 long years to win ownership of 24 acres of Boston waterfront, which formed the basis for his highly leveraged purchase of the Dodgers. He is comfortable here.
He seemed almost robotic on the stand, volunteering almost nothing and answering questions with the precision of a good lawyer. Explaining why he couldn't remember certain events, McCourt said, "I was highly programmed at that point in time."
He seems to have meant "over-scheduled," but the adjective fits. He does seem like a machine.
Remember the talk about how both Jamie and Frank wanted to avoid a trial for the sake of their sons? How they wanted to spare their sons the embarrassment? Well, forget that. At this point, they are beyond the reach of shame.
In fact, Frank must be eager to testify, to unburden himself after a long silence. Finally, he can defeat his wife, absolutely and completely, and get back to baseball.
Though he and Boies are only warming up, Jamie's lawyers claimed a couple of small victories Tuesday. It will take many more hours of testimony before it's clear how much Frank helps or hurts his cause.
Full McCourt coverage:
Week 1 Wrap-Up:
The Screaming Meanie
Even more McCourt:
L.A. Weekly cover story, Dodger Dog, from August