DeWitt's bid carries Cincinnati flavor

December 24, 1992|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer

If Eli S. Jacobs pays attention to recent media accounts and sells the Orioles to Cincinnati businessman William O. DeWitt Jr., he apparently will be turning over the owners' box to more than one investor from that Midwestern city.

Joining DeWitt in his Orioles bid are three others who live in Cincinnati and, like DeWitt, own minority shares of the Texas Rangers -- businessmen Mercer Reynolds, Dudley Taft and Robert Castellini.

The four investors, who are close friends, have been shopping for a baseball team for more than a year, said Craig Stapleton, a fellow partner in the Rangers group.

"There have been a lot of baseball teams for sale in the last year and a half. They've been snooping around to see what they might put together," said Stapleton, who said he is not involved in the Orioles offer.

The Cincinnati investors spoke informally about their plans to buy a team when the Rangers owners last met in November, according to Stapleton, who said it wasn't clear at the time how serious the group's Orioles prospects were.

He added that Baltimore figures to be appealing to the group for many reasons, including this one: It is close enough to Cincinnati to allow DeWitt and the others to see lots of games.

DeWitt, who reportedly owns less than 10 percent of the Rangers, virtually grew up in the major leagues -- his father owned the St. Louis Browns in the 1940s and the Cincinnati Reds from 1961 to 1966.

Others in the group have varied business backgrounds.

Reynolds is a partner with DeWitt in an invest

ment company. Taft is an executive with Taft Broadcasting Co. and a former part owner of the Philadelphia Phillies. Castellini operates The Castellini Co. in Cincinnati.

Orioles president Larry Lucchino also would own a share of the team, according to sources familiar with the talks with Jacobs, owner since 1989. Jacobs has not commented on the sale, but has been restructuring his business empire. Last July, he told some banks he would not be making interest payments.

None of the investors returned telephone calls.

Stapleton had high praise for his partners, saying their baseball investments are driven by "a real love of the sport."

"They'd certainly be in the top echelon of owners," he said. "If I were a baseball fan in Baltimore, I couldn't think of better owners."

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