ONEONTA — Oneonta native and local businessman Gary Laing said Tuesday night he is planning to buy the Oneonta Outlaws from Keith Rogers and Dan Scaring and that the deal could be finalized by the end of this week.
Laing confirmed his intention to purchase the summer college baseball franchise less than an hour after the Common Council approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Dick Miller to change the owner’s name on the Outlaws’ contract with the city to rent Damaschke Field.
Seven of the eight council members voted in favor of the resolution. Michael Lynch, council member for the Fourth Ward, was absent.
“There are really just a couple of things that have to be settled,” said Laing, 55, a 1975 Oneonta High graduate who spent time with his family at the Neptune Diner while the Common Council held its regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall on Tuesday night. “But the sale is pending and negotiations are ongoing.”
Laing, who owns The Shipping Room on Chestnut Street in Oneonta, said he first discussed the possibility of buying the franchise with Outlaws President of Operations Steve Pindar at the end of August.
“I just asked (if the team was for sale),” said Laing, who is being represented by Oneonta attorney Michael Getman in the negotiations. “That was it. … It’s a funny thing that when you ask for something, sometimes you just get it. That’s why you always have to be careful of what you ask for.”
Should the sale go through, Laing said, baseball will remain in Oneonta for the foreseeable future.
“It’s going to stay here,” said Laing, who lives in his childhood home in the East End of Oneonta with his wife, Karen, and his sons, Chris and Josh. “It’s going to be Oneonta’s team, just like it was with Sam (Nader, the former owner of the Oneonta Tigers).”
Laing said he intends to own the franchise until his sons, who attend Valleyview Elementary and play Little League baseball, are old enough to take over.
“Baseball will be here for many, many years,” said Pindar, who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “Gary is a hometown boy. He cares about the area, the community and his neighbors.”
Rogers and Scaring moved their wood-bat franchise from Saratoga to Damaschke Field in Feb. 2010, months after the Oneonta Tigers played their final season of Single-A baseball in the New York-Penn League.
Nader, 93, and Sid Levine, 99, sold the Tigers to a group of investors led by New York City attorney E. Miles Prentice III in December of 2008. Prentice’s group agreed to keep the NY-Penn team in Oneonta through at least the 2010 season but left for Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn., following the 2009 season. Thus ended the NY-Penn’s longtime relationship with Damaschke Field, which started with Nader, Levine and eight others in 1966.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Miller said the city should be grateful to Rogers and Scaring for bringing the Outlaws to Oneonta, where the team spent its first two seasons in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. After winning the NYCBL title in 2011, the Outlaws moved to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League for the 2012 season.
In 2010, the Outlaws operated under a lease held by the O-Tigers with the consent of the Common Council. In 2011, the Outlaws signed a five-year contract with the city to rent Damaschke Field for $185 per game, with another $250 per game required to use the lights. The per-game cost to use the field was to increase $10 in each subsequent year.
Miller said some council members initially had reservations about the resolution because the new owner wasn’t identified in the proposed resolution at first. Miller then appealed to the council to approve the measure, which moved ownership to Laing.
“This is a heartwarming type of purchase,” said Miller, who confirmed Monday that the terms of the lease would remain the same as the council was voting only on changing the name on the rental agreement.
Laing opened The Shipping Room in his home in 1991 as a drop-off location for U.S. Mail, UPS and Fed Ex packages. He moved the business to 291 Chestnut St. in 1998 and was recognized as the top revenue producer in the U.S. Postal Service’s Approved Shipper Program in 2008. The same year, The Shipping Room earned a Small Business Award from the Otsego County Chamber.
Laing owned season tickets for box seats in the Damaschke Field grandstand during the Outlaws’ 2012 season. He also participated in the Outlaws’ host-family program this past season, opening his home to players for the summer.
“Most of the summer, the whole team was here every night and it was great,” Laing said. “We had a great time.”
Outlaws coach Joe Hughes, who also serves Oneonta High as its athletic director, said Laing will do a “great job” as the new owner.
“I’ve known Gary for a long time,” said Hughes, who graduated from OHS a year after Laing. “He’s a very nice guy who runs a very successful business in The Shipping Room. He’s honest and approachable, and he’s a good community member in the city of Oneonta. … He’s a good example of someone who works hard, and I think it’s great.”
Messages left on Rogers’ cell phone Monday night and Tuesday morning were not returned to The Daily Star.
Daily Star reporter Denise Richardson contributed to this report.
Dean Russin can be reached at drussin@thedaily star.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.