Boston Red Sox Partners Agree to Sell Team to Henry/Werner Group

In a record $660 million deal, the limited partners of the Boston Red Sox voted unanimously Thursday to sell the team to a group led by Florida Marlins owner John Henry and former San Diego Padres owner Tom Werner.

Thomas Dibenedetto, a minority shareholder, told The Associated Press the price was $660 million, which would more than double the previous record sale for a baseball franchise, $323 million for the Cleveland Indians last year.

The agreement must be approved by 75 percent of the 30 major league owners, who usually take about six months to consider sales.

Harrington is confident Werner and Henry, both close to commissioner Bud Selig, have the cash to close the deal, saying they were committed to the team and fans. They are "deeply involved and passionate about the game of baseball," Harrington said.

Larry Lucchino, the former president of the Baltimore Orioles and Padres, is likely to become Red Sox team president if the sale is approved.

Harrington said the Werner-Henry group offered the highest qualified bid for the team, which owns Fenway Park and 80 percent of the New England Sports Network. Harrington has repeatedly said the trust would accept the "highest qualified bid" not necessarily the top price offered.

Harrington announced on Oct. 6, 2000, that the Jean R. Yawkey Trust, which has controlled the Red Sox since 1994, would sell its 53 percent stake.

Four groups remained in contention when the limited partners met Thursday. A bid by Werner and Henry to join forces with local developers Joseph O'Donnell and Steve Karp failed. In a joint statement Thursday, Henry and Werner said the groups never solved the issue of control of the alliance.

Henry and Werner said they submitted their own bid.

Others bidders included Cablevision Systems Corp. chairman Charles Dolan, who reportedly made an offer worth at least $655 million, and a group that includes New York lawyer Miles Prentice and the private equity firm, the Quadrangle Group.

Thomas Yawkey bought the team from J.A. Robert Quinn in 1933, and Jean Yawkey took over when her husband died in 1976.

Jean Yawkey, Haywood Sullivan and Buddy LeRoux bought the team's general partnership from the estate and Jean Yawkey later bought out LeRoux.

When Jean Yawkey died in 1992, she willed all her holdings to her trust, and Harrington gained complete control of the team in November 1993 when Trust bought out Sullivan.

The record price for a baseball franchise is the $323 million Larry Dolan — Charles' brother — paid last year for the Cleveland Indians.

Selig is known to like individuals the Henry and Werner group, which also includes former senator George Mitchell of Maine.

Werner, who made television hits like "The Cosby Show" and "Third Rock from the Sun," made unpopular trades as owner of the Padres in the early 1990s, claiming they were necessary after the team lost $7 million in 1992.

Later the group added Henry, a math junkie and former commodities trader who bought the Florida Marlins from H. Wayne Huizenga in 1999 for $150 million. Henry is negotiating to sell the Marlins to Jeffrey Loria, the owner of the Montreal Expos, a team Selig wants to eliminate.

The Werner/Henry group also includes Les Otten, who built American Skiing Co. into the country's largest Alpine ski resort operator, with holdings in New England and in California, Utah, and Colorado. He was forced out of his skiing company last spring.