Thursday, 23 February 2017
Last updated 13 min ago
Jul 13 2011 | 10:53am ET
Baseball's top executive said yesterday he'll approve the New York Mets' sale of a minority stake to hedge fund manager David Einhorn, who used to hit homeruns into his backyard.
Commissioner Bud Selig told reporters at baseball's All-Star Game in Phoenix yesterday that the Greenlight Capital founder has been "cleared" to buy a piece of the financially-troubled Mets from their financially-troubled owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz. Talks between the two sides have gone on longer than expected but are continuing.
"They have to finish the deal," Selig said. "And, by the way, I think they're making very good progress."
While terms of the deal have not been disclosed, reports indicate that Einhorn will receive one-third of the team in exchange for what is essentially a $200 million loan. If Wilpon and Katz, facing a $1 billion lawsuit stemming from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, can pay him back within a number of years, he gets to keep at least part of the stake; if they cannot, Einhorn will have an option to buy the team.
Selig rejected the characterization of the deal as a loan, saying, "it isn't a loan in the true sense of it. He's putting equity in the club."
"I'm not concerned," the commissioner continued. "The deal is very good for the Mets."
"Once the deal is done, I think the Mets, at least for the foreseeable future, will be fine," he added.
Plus, Einhorn "played baseball in my backyard," Selig explained. "How can I turn him down?"
While Einhorn spent his early years in New Jersey rooting for the Mets, he moved to the Milwaukee area as a child. He said a friend lived next door to Selig, then the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, and they would often play baseball in his friend's yard. Hits that carried over Selig's fence were ruled homeruns.