Two local groups interested in buying the Orioles say they have been unable to reach current owner Eli S. Jacobs, leading them to conclude he may not want to sell to them.
Jacobs, a publicity-shy New York financier, said in June that he was exploring some unsolicited offers for the team. He has refused any public comment since.
Soon after the Jacobs announcement, Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, clothing store magnate and former Baltimorean, said he was interested in buying the team, possibly with some investment by filmmaker Barry Levinson. Then Jack Luskin, the owner of the Luskin's Inc. appliance store chain, wrote to Jacobs saying he and his nephew, local attorney Stephen L. Miles, were interested.
But both potential buyers say they can't get Jacobs to negotiate with them.
"Mr. Jacobs refuses to come to the telephone, which is sort of discouraging, disappointing to me. He made it clear he wanted to sell the team. I don't know if he's playing games but I think he should at least come to the telephone," Weinglass said in an interview last Thursday with Home Team Sports.
"I'm very interested but Mr. Jacobs seems very reluctant to negotiate or at least speak to my group," Weinglass said during the interview, broadcast between innings from Memorial Stadium.
Weinglass did not return phone calls left at his office over the past several days. But last night, on a WBAL radio show, he said he may have to focus his attention on securing a National Football League team for Baltimore, instead.
"Originally, I wanted to see the Orioles, but it doesn't seem to me like Mr. Jacobs is communicating with me," Weinglass said.
Weinglass said he also communicated with the J.P. Morgan Inc., the Wall Street investment banker hired by Jacobs to evaluate a possible sale, but said he found "roadblocks."
Miles said he and Luskin are still interested, and have heard from a Wall Street brokerage interested in taking the team public and selling some of the stock to local fans. Major league baseball generally frowns on such ownership plans.
Miles said Luskin has also heard from several other local people interested in forming an investment group.
"I haven't heard back, nor has he returned any of my phone messages," Miles said yesterday. He said he wrote directly to Jacobs last week.
"I think it's pretty rude when a guy doesn't respond to two letters or return three phone messages. Maybe he's not interested in selling anymore," Miles said.
Miles said he has not reached J.P. Morgan Inc., Jacobs' banker.
"I was always told to go to the horse's mouth," Miles said.
In his letter to Jacobs last week, Miles wrote, "If I do not get a response to this letter, I will presume that you have changed your mind and do not wish to sell the club."
Miles closed the letter with the sign-off he uses in his television advertisements: "Let's talk about it."
A spokesman for Jacobs yesterday would say only that "Mr. Jacobs has no comment on ownership issues."