Jacobs' silence not a hit with Schaefer Governor wishes he'd been told of possible sale of the Orioles.

June 21, 1991|By Michelle Singletary | Michelle Singletary,Evening Sun Staff

Gov. William Donald Schaefer says he's upset because Oriole owner Eli S. Jacobs didn't give him a courtesy call to say he was considering selling the team.

Schaefer said he was surprised to hear that Jacobs, "a shy, secretive and tremendous businessman," would let it be known publicly he was looking for a buyer.

Jacobs informed baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent by letter early this month that he was entertaining offers to buy the team. But Jacobs didn't inform the governor.

"He could have at least called and said, 'Governor, I'm going to sell the team.' " Schaefer said. "I would have said, 'I'll help you find someone.' "

Schaefer made the comments at Baltimore-Washington International Airport last night after a press conference celebrating his return from a 15-day trade mission to Japan and Singapore.

"Of course he [Jacobs] has no obligation to tell me but on the other side. . . he could have called," Schaefer said.

Despite being slighted, Schaefer said, he will do whatever he can to help find a buyer -- a local buyer, that is.

Schaefer said he likes the idea that film maker and native Barry Levinson is interested in purchasing an interest in the Orioles.

"I think it would be tremendous if Levinson owned the team," he said.

The governor said he is not familiar with Levinson's pal, Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, who has announced he is interested in buying the team and who probably would be the principal investor in any deal involving Levinson.

"I don't know anything about him, but I like local ownership," Schaefer said.

Weinglass is a Baltimore native, the model for a character in the movie "Diner," and vice chairman and principal stockholder of Merry-Go-Round, a Joppa-based clothing retailer with annual sales of $650 million. However, Weinglass lives 11 months of the year in Aspen, Colo.

Schaefer made a point of blasting the local businessmen who tried to buy the team in 1979 when the Orioles went for a mere $12 million to the late Washington lawyer Edward Bennett Williams.

Schaefer said that at the time the members of the group could come up with only $11 million and, despite many attempts, he couldn't get them to raise the extra $1 million.

Estimates now place the value of the Orioles as high as $120 million.

"It was the greatest error in their life," Schaefer said. "Now you are talking about real money."

The governor devoted most of the official press conference to the 15 days that he and 14 other state officials spent trying to drum up trade in the Far East.

While in Japan, the governor got a pledge from Terumo Group, a Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company, to invest another $27 million in its Cecil County plant.

Maryland officials also met with Neptune Orient Lines Ltd. in a effort to woo the shipping line from Baltimore's archrival port of Norfolk, Va.

O. James Lighthizer, secretary of transportation, conceded that

the delegation would probably not succeed in persuading Neptune to switch to Baltimore this round but said it was important to make the pitch for the long term.

Schaefer said Virginia is 7 1/2 hours' less steaming time from the ocean than is Baltimore, so Maryland has to do a better job promoting its closer proximity to the Midwest.

Lighthizer also said his department plans to petition Singapore Airlines to fly into BWI when it expands to the U.S. East Coast.

Schaefer, who has made nine foreign trips since he took office in 1987, said he his next target will be Mexico, possibly later this year.

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