Would you like to take $1,000 and trade it in for $4 million?
That’s what Jim Paul, a promotional genius, did.
He distributed with generosity his windfall among his staff, but he left himself a nice nest egg.
In 1975 when El Paso Professional Sports, Inc. stopped supporting the El Paso Diablos, Paul went to Texas League president Bobby Bragan.
Despite the Diablos’ success in 1974 the club was still in debt to the tune of $52,000. Bragan referred Paul to Ron DiGiorno of Fort Worth who had seemed interested in the El Paso franchise.
DiGiorno agreed to become owner and assume the $52,000 debt but he bailed out three weeks before the start of the season. Paul bought him out for $1,000, assumed the $52,000 debt and became owner of the Diablos.
THAT WAS THE start of one of the most successful business ventures in El Paso sports.
I asked Paul how he came up with such outstanding ideas. Following is his reply:
“I guess what I’ve achieved comes from using my imagination. I developed it during my youth. My formative years were in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Those were quiet years. There was no television, no little league baseball, not too many toys.
“Besides that, my family was of modest means. We lived in Sunset Heights. The kids in the neighborhood and I had to improvise to entertain ourselves. I remember we would make ‘pistols’ and ‘rifles’ out of wooden sticks. We would tie a clothespin at one end and use rubber bands cut out of inner tubes for ‘bullets.’ We’d play cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians and shoot at each other.
“We’d also play such games as tag, hide and seek and kick the can. About the only toys we had in those days was marbles, yo-yos and tops.
“When we got a little older we’d play football in the streets or we’d go to a nearby fire station where there was a hoop and play basketball. Eventually I got a hoop in my backyard and we’d play basketball there.”
PAUL SHOWED leadership early in life.
He was captain of the basketball team at El Paso High School, joined several clubs, was a member of the student council and was named winner of the Outstanding Student PTA Award. At UTEP he majored in journalism and English, was elected to the student senate and made the Dean’s List three times.
He served in Vietnam and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal in 1970.
He sold the El Paso Diablos in 1999 for $4 million, a great return on his investment.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the only person in NBA history to be named Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year? Answer at end of column.
RAY HAGAR, a former El Paso Times sports editor, asked if I remember him. I’ll never forget him. He hired me at the El Paso Times. And because of him, I was able to cover the Dallas Cowboys when they won three Super Bowls in the 1990s. I’ll always will remember him fondly.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Larry Bird. He played his entire professional career for Boston, winning three NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards. He then served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2000 and in 2003 assumed the role of president of basketball operations for the Pacers.
Veteran sports journalist, historian and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. His column periodically runs in El Paso Inc.’s B-Section. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at raysanchezbooks.com.