Tom Clancy offers to bid for Orioles with other locals Author would join Angelos, Knott

April 22, 1993|By Mark Hyman and Jon Morgan | Mark Hyman and Jon Morgan,Staff Writers

Best-selling author Tom Clancy said yesterday he has agreed to join a group led by Baltimore lawyer Peter G. Angelos that is trying to buy the Orioles.

Mr. Angelos said his talks with Mr. Clancy about buying the baseball team began "many months ago" and said the author, who lives in Calvert County, would be a key member of the group.

"He's committed to making a very substantial financial commitment in furtherance of our goal, which is to secure local ownership of the ballclub," Mr. Angelos said.

Baltimore contractor and philanthropist Henry Knott Sr. is also an investor in the group.

A bid for the Orioles would be Mr. Clancy's second try at becoming an owner of a professional sports franchise in Baltimore. For more than a year, he has headed a group seeking to own a National Football League team, should Baltimore be awarded one of two planned expansion franchises.

Mr. Clancy said yesterday the NFL effort is unaffected by the baseball bid, unless his group is successful in obtaining the Orioles. "You can do one or the other," he said. "You can't do both."

In pursuing the Orioles, the Baltimore investors are competing with a group led by Cincinnati businessman William O. DeWitt Jr. The DeWitt group, which has been negotiating for more than six months with Oriole owner Eli S. Jacobs, has offered about $140 million for the team, according to sources familiar with the talks.

Mr. Angelos said his group has had virtually no communication with Mr. Jacobs, despite several recent attempts to reach him. Mr. Angelos said he sent a letter to Mr. Jacobs about three weeks ago outlining a "conceptual proposal" for the team.

Mr. Clancy said the local investors have not yet examined Oriole financial records, an important step in determining what the team is worth. "We're still exploring it," he said. "I'm a businessman, and, when you have a potential business opportunity, you look at it."

The fate of the team ultimately will be decided in bankruptcy court. Mr. Jacobs, being pursued by creditors, entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. His debts exceed $300 million.

Any sale of the Orioles -- Mr. Jacobs' main asset -- must be approved by a bankruptcy judge. After a proposal for the team is received, Judge Cornelius Blackshear of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York City would schedule a hearing, at which other investors might present competing offers.

A lawyer for Mr. Jacobs said this week that an announcement about the sale could come within the next two weeks.

Mr. Clancy, 46, was born in Baltimore and attended Loyola High School and Loyola College. He is the author of a string of best-selling novels, including "The Hunt for Red October." Two of them have been made into films as well.

Mr. Clancy's NFL co-investor, locally based moviemaker and port businessman James G. Robinson, said through a spokeswoman that he, too, has considered an independent bid for the Orioles, but is not now a part of the Angelos effort.

"Jim has looked at the Orioles in the past and enjoys his partnership with Tom. He has not officially joined up with Clancy," said the spokeswoman, Terry Curtin.

She did not say whether Mr. Robinson would pursue the NFL bid if Mr. Clancy became a baseball team owner.

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