Boogie, 'Diner' guys would be feast fit for a fan

Ken Rosenthal

June 19, 1991|By Ken Rosenthal

An owner named Boogie.

Dig it.

What would we call him?

The Boogster? The Boogmeister? Sir Boogaloo?

It doesn't matter.

Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, 49, is trying to buy the Orioles, and all self-respecting fans are hereby advised to head to one of his Merry-Go-Round stores and clear out the racks.

Boogie's Baltimore.

Boogie's our man.

Just think: Director Barry Levinson could be general manager -- the payback for using Boogie as a model for one of his characters in the movie "Diner."

Don't laugh. Levinson said yesterday he's interested in being a part-owner with his old friend (but not -- repeat, not -- the GM).

Owner Boogie.

His buddy Barry.

The whole "Diner" gang, running the show.

"It's such a great team, such a great city," Levinson said from Los Angeles. "You talk about Baltimore, that kind of fan interest. It's always hard to explain.

"I remember a couple of years ago when all the young guys came up and they made the pennant run. I don't remember who this player was, but he had just come up.

"Somebody yelled, 'Don't embarrass yourself.' Like, 'Don't embarrass yourself, hon.' You can just hear that and know exactly what city you're in."

Of course, but back to Boogie.

He's the anti-Eli.

He's one of a kind.

Just last week the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell wrote of Eli Jacobs, "A silent, studious man who owns 25 companies and works for countless charities isn't exactly going to stoop to going one-on-one with Stan the Fan."

Then there's Boogie.

He's pals with Stan the Fan.

"He would definitely be great, there's no question about it," said the radio talk-show host in question, Stan Charles. "He was born poor. He's Baltimore. He's the underdog who made it. People would root for this guy."

"He'd be the greatest, the absolute greatest," said Chip Silverman, the author of "Diner Guys," a book that followed the movie. "It would be the all-timer, that's all I can tell you. There would never be another owner like him. There's nobody like him.

"I guess if you put together a composite of a major-league owner you'd say, 'Staid, conservative, reclusive.' Boogie's such the opposite of that. He'd put Bill Veeck to shame."

Dig it, dig it, dig it.

Hey, Boogie's wife even has the same name as a time-honored baseball tradition: Pepper. His kids' names are Sage, Bo and Skye. He fancies a ponytail and tight blue jeans.

Just imagine a face-to-face meeting between Boogie and Eli -- the Baltimore street kid and the New York suit. Better still, imagine club president Larry Lucchino trying to keep his share of the team.

Charles said Boogie actually was interested in buying the club with his late partner Harold Goldsmith in 1979. Goldsmith set up a meeting with Jerry Hoffberger, but that's as far as it went.

"Harold told Boogie to wear a suit and tie," Charles said. "Boogie said the hell with it, I'm not wearing a suit and tie.

"The queen would not really be welcome in his box," Stan the Fan said. "He'd rather have my mother than the queen."

But what kind of owner would he make?

Thought you'd never ask.

Silverman said all the Diner Guys are avid Orioles fans -- Levinson, for one, still thinks Gregg Olson should be a starting pitcher (that's OK, the Otter surely prefers the "Terminator" series to Levinson's Baltimore trilogy).

Boogie played the game, knows the game, loves the game. And did you see what he said in yesterday's Sun? "I know up front we'd have to spend money for new players."

Cringe, Orioles, cringe.

"I can't say what would happen if he bought the team," Charles said. "He's got his opinions. He's been calling my show for years."

A talk-show caller owning the team: It's the ultimate sports fantasy (or tragedy, depending on how you look at it). But, as Charles said, "He's sharp. He's not going to do anything off the wall for the sake of being off the wall."

It all sounds too good to be true, and it probably is. Still, Charles said Weinglass told him that Jacobs' representatives, the J.P. Morgan & Co. Inc. investment banking firm, deemed him "more than qualified" to own the club.

"No question he can get the money up," Charles said.

All right, then, time to get busy. As the Boogie character said in "Diner": "If you don't have good dreams, you've got nightmares."

An owner named Boogie. His buddy Barry. The Diner Guys, running the show.

Dig it.

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