Marlins bait Lucchino with top post Orioles president not eager to leave

September 16, 1993|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer

The Orioles front office, due for a major change later this month with the arrival of new owner Peter G. Angelos, might be in for one more shuffle.

Orioles president Larry Lucchino has held talks with Florida Marlins officials about joining the National League expansion lTC club as a senior executive, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Lucchino and Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga attended the quarterly meetings of owners in Boston last week, where they discussed a possible job, the sources said. Huizenga's team has been operating without a president, its top front-office official, since the death of Carl Barger, who suffered a fatal heart attack during baseball's winter meetings last December.

Lucchino declined to confirm the talks with Huizenga, but he did acknowledge he has been approached by a club or clubs, which he declined to name.

"Have I gotten feelers for other job opportunities? Yes, I have," Lucchino said yesterday, "but I don't think I should comment about what people are calling."

In any case, Lucchino said he'd be reluctant to leave Baltimore. "This is where my home is, and this franchise is where my head and my heart are," he said. "I think that's the first thing you should know when you inquire about whether I have had calls from people about working for other franchises."

Huizenga did not return a phone call to his office.

Lucchino, 48, is a logical candidate for Florida's front-office post, in part because he has presided over the Orioles as they became one of baseball's most profitable clubs, with operating profits this year expected to exceed $20 million.

Lucchino also played a lead role in the design of Camden Yards, the Orioles' critically acclaimed stadium. That's likely to be a key credential for Huizenga, who has unveiled plans to move his franchise to a baseball-only stadium with a retractable dome by the end of the decade. He also owns the Florida Panthers, an expansion National Hockey League team that sources say Lucchino possibly would have a role in operating.

Huizenga's overture comes during a time of uncertainty for Lucchino, whose tenure with the Orioles spans 14 years and two groups of owners. He joined the team in 1979 as team vice president and an adviser to his mentor, Washington lawyer Edward Bennett Williams.

Since New York businessman Eli S. Jacobs bought the club in late 1988, Lucchino has been the club's president, managing its day-to-day affairs. He also owns 9 percent of the Orioles, an investment that paid off into the millions when the Angelos investors purchased the club last month for $173 million.

Lucchino's role under the new owners hasn't been made clear. He'll have the title of vice chairman of operations, but may be giving up some of his duties.

Lucchino attends most owners meetings and has been active on many committees, including one of big-market clubs fighting proposals from small-market teams for revenue-sharing.

Angelos hasn't ruled out a continued role for Lucchino in those league matters, but he has made it clear that he also will attend league meetings.

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