District Group Is Eyeing Ripken
Byline: Eric Fisher and Thom Loverro, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
CHICAGO - Baltimore Orioles future Hall of Famer Cal Ripken is being courted by the Washington Baseball Club to be part of the ownership group if it acquires a franchise for the District.
Representatives of the District group, led by financier Fred Malek, have approached members of Ripken's business group about being a part-owner, Ripken spokesman John Maroon confirmed. But no direct contact has been made with Ripken, and no specific terms have been discussed.
Ripken, who retired as a player after the 2001 season, has long made known his desire to run a major league baseball organization. Yesterday, during a youth baseball clinic here, he reiterated he would like to be a team's decision maker.
"I've always said I would be interested in having an impact on a baseball organization," said Ripken, remaining noncommittal about Washington area baseball. "But it would have to be the right opportunity, with the right time and a chance to analyze any such deal. I'm always willing to listen to opportunities, but it would be difficult to deal in a hypothetical situation."
WBC spokesman Winston Lord also confirmed that initial outreach to Ripken representatives had been made. Malek heads one of three prospective ownership groups seeking to buy the Montreal Expos.
"Anybody of Cal's stature and knowledge, we'd be crazy to not want to talk to them. We want to run a world-class organization," Lord said. "The current Montreal leadership [president Tony Tavares and general manager Omar Minaya] is doing a great job, but when an opportunity of this caliber develops, you certainly investigate it."
If Malek's group were to consummate a deal with Ripken, it would provide an instant surge of credibility and notoriety for an already powerful group. Other partners include America Online co-founder Jim Kimsey, prominent real estate investment executive Joe Robert, Fannie Mae chairman Franklin Raines, Washington power broker Vernon Jordan, former Walt Disney Co. executive Dennis Hightower, former Washington Redskins star Darrell Green and lawyers Paul Wolff and Steve Porter.
Malek and his associates already have a link to Ripken because Malek's assistant, Desiree Pilachowski, formerly worked for the Tufton Group, which represents Ripken.
Virginia Baseball Club, led by William Collins, also has had conversations with Ripken about bringing him in as an investor, most recently in 2001 when Ripken was finishing his playing career. No substantive conversations between VBC and Ripken's people have occurred in the last year, VBC executive director Jerry Burkot said.
"We've had informal discussions about this with Cal," Burkot said. "There was some interest from him. There was definite interest from us. Why wouldn't we be interested?"
Asked whether he was following the Washington area's pursuit of the Expos, Ripken said. …