Harrell Edmond Chiles
* Born May 11, 1910 in Itasca, TX USA
* Died August 22, 1993 in Fort Worth, TX USA
Until he bought the Rangers from Brad Corbett in 1980, Harrell Edmonds Chiles was little known outside the Southwest, but in the oil patch he was something of a folk hero.
That was partly because Mr. Chiles, who grew up in Itasca, Tex., and worked as a merchant seaman in his youth, worked his way through the University of Oklahoma and parlayed a degree in petroleum engineering into a fortune providing services and equipment to drillers. In 1939, after working as a Sales Engineer with Reed Roller Bit Company in Houston, he founded the Western Company of North America. He started the company with two trucks and three employees. Western served the petroleum industry with technical services required in the discovery and production of oil and gas. The company grew to become a major oil services firm, primarily in acidizing, fracturing and cementing. At its peak, the Western Company had over 5,000 employees and annual worldwide revenues of over $500 million. During the 1970s, the Western Company also operated an offshore drilling company run by Mr. Chiles’ brother, Clay Chiles. The company was sold to BJ Services in 1995.
As a businessman, he shared his views in the late 1970’s, usually about some government affront to business, through a series of radio commercials in which he proclaimed, ‘I’m Eddie Chiles, and I’m mad.” The commercials were broadcast on 650 stations in 14 states where Western had operations and spawned almost a million bumper stickers reading, “I’m mad too, Eddie.”
In baseball he proved no less outspoken. He publicly chastised Commissioner Bowie Kuhn for his handling of the 1981 baseball strike and the next year he cast a critical vote that brought the commissioner’s tenure to an end.
As a hands-on owner, he streamlined the Rangers’ front office, eventually turning a money-losing operation into a profitable enterprise, largely, perhaps, because the team had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.
Mounting losses in his oil business led Chiles to sell his 58 percent interest in the Rangers to a group headed by George W. Bush Jr. in March 1989, but not before Mr. Chiles had signed Nolan Ryan to a one-year, $2 million contract.
Eddie Chiles was born in Itasca, Texas to Harsh Edmonds Chiles and Jewell Files. After graduating from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, he worked as an oil patch roustabout before hitchhiking to Norman, Oklahoma in 1930. In 1934, he graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering.