When Mark Attanasio purchased the Brewers last October, a dozen or so individuals signed up for minority shares. Among them were two Brown alumni.
Richard Ressler ’79 has known Attanasio since the pair was assigned the same dorm floor during their freshman year at the University of Michigan. “We transferred to Brown a semester apart,” says Ressler, who was the first to arrive on College Hill. He soon reported to Attanasio, “It’s great here.”
After graduating, Ressler headed to Columbia Business School, while Attanasio entered Columbia Law School, where he introduced Ressler to his future wife, Alison Strasburger ’80. “We met literally on the first day of school, within fifteen minutes of walking in,” Alison says. “I was in the lobby registering for classes.” She’d known Attanasio from Brown, recognized him, and was introduced to his friend, who happened to be accompanying him that day.
After graduation Richard Ressler joined Drexel Burnham, and Attanasio practiced law at a Manhattan firm. Yet again, Ressler “got Mark to jump,” as he puts it, this time from law to finance at Drexel Burnham: “I told him it’s a great place.” They continued on to financial services firms, Attanasio with Trust Company of the West (TCW) and Ressler at CIM Group—both in Los Angeles. “Mark’s been Richard’s best friend for thirty years,” notes Alison, “and Mark’s wife, Debbie, is Richard’s sister’s best friend from Long Island.”
It was only natural that once he knew he would be buying the Brewers, Attanasio would offer Richard and Alison a piece of the action. Richard says, “It’s consistent with deals we’ve done over the years, with a little more fun.” Alison adds, “It’s great to be able to support a friend in doing something he’s so into.”
Through the deal, Alison Ressler became a member of a very select group: female owners of major league baseball teams. Of course, it’s been tough exercising her ownership rights while also serving as a mother, a partner at the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, and a Brown trustee. “Rick took the kids to the Brewers opener,” she says, “and I think I’ve been to two games.” Both were games when the Brewers were playing in Los Angeles. Alison’s loyalties weren’t what you’d expect. “I’m still a Dodgers fan,” she admits.