Vince Piazza, a longtime friend of Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda, may withdraw from the group trying to buy the San Francisco Giants and move that club to Florida. That decision could force Lasorda to remain with the Dodgers in 1993, rather than possibly joining his hometown pal in Florida.
Fred Kuhlmann, vice chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals and chairman of the major league ownership committee, said Thursday that Piazza has no choice, that he failed a security check of his background. Kuhlmann would not provide specifics, and Tom Ostertag, baseball’s general counsel, refused comment.
Piazza said no one has said anything to him about a failed security check.
“I don’t see how that could be a problem,” he said, adding that the issue, as he understands it, deals strictly with the size of his and partner Vince Tirendi’s out-of-state investment.
The Pennsylvania partners are reportedly putting up $45 million, or about half of the purchase price. Jerry Reinsdorf, co-owner of the Chicago White Sox, confirmed Pizza’s contention.
“No one has ordered them out,” Reinsdorf said. “The concern is that (as out-of-state investors) they have too big a piece of the franchise. We’ve encouraged (the group) to beef up the local end. It will be a stronger group because of it.”
Piazza said the full ownership group will meet today. He said one possibility is that he and Tirendi will reduce their investment to about 20%, but he added that he wasn’t sure he wanted to do that if it meant that he wouldn’t be in charge of the baseball operation. And he added that he isn’t sure he could legally run the baseball end as a minority owner.
“If we’re in that position, we might not want to be part of the deal,” he said.
Kuhlmann said the decision has already been made and that it had to do with “security and not finances.”
“There was a serious question in terms of some of the people who were part of the group,” he said. “I think the change has already been made. I haven’t confirmed that, but I understand the amount of money that was involved with the group that would not have been accepted (Piazza and Tirendi) has been put up by the remaining people, so I don’t think it was a problem.”
The other members of the group are all from the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. They are Vince Naimoli, who heads the group and would not comment Thursday; Rex Farrior, Mark Bostick and Lance Ringhaver.
The National League has left the door open for a San Francisco group to make a competitive offer, and it is not certain when a vote will be taken. If Piazza is out of the Florida group, that would seem to remove a possible option for Lasorda.
The Dodger manager is under contract for one more year, but it has been speculated that he might be lured to Florida as the Giants’ manager, general manager or both, particularly if Piazza, the father of Dodger catching prospect Mike Piazza, maintains ownership control of the baseball operation.
The Piazza intrigue highlighted the final day of the quarterly owners meeting in St. Louis, where there was an obvious attempt at healing the scars created by the forced resignation of Fay Vincent as commissioner.
Six of Vincent’s supporters were appointed by the executive counsel to the committee that will investigate restructuring of the commissioner’s office. They are Wayne Huizenga of the Florida Marlins, Haywood Sullivan of the Boston Red Sox, Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets, Claude Brochu of the Montreal Expos, Rusty Rose of the Texas Rangers and Larry Luchino of the Baltimore Orioles.
Also named were Peter O’Malley of the Dodgers, Bill Bartholomay of the Atlanta Braves, Paul Beeston of the Toronto Blue Jays and Reinsdorf, all of whom had opposed Vincent.