Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon were fresh air for the Mets when they bought the team in 1980. It was a rescue from family ownership that had turned stale.
It is interesting to note that if the two partners had remained together instead of becoming the at-odds couple, today's Madoff Mess would likely have never occurred.
Ownership before Doubleday and Wilpon had eroded down to this: Charles Payson, the husband of original owner Joan Payson, once stepped off his boat in spring training and professed to being a Red Sox fan. He admitted knowing nothing about the Mets.
Doubleday had the money to bankroll what was a big deal at the time. He shelled out the majority of the $21.1 million to make what he stressed at the time was the ``cash on the barrel head’’ deal. He owned 80 percent. Fred Wilpon and City Investing Company shared 20 percent.
The Doubleday-Wilpon offer outbid, among others, Allen & Co., the same firm that is now helping the Mets find minority ownership. Donald Trump, merely known as a ``Brooklyn developer,'' was said to have offered $19 million.
Doubleday, now 77, is monitoring the developments of the Mets from afar. ``I really don’t understand it because I was not big in the financial world,’’ he said. ``I was in the publishing world.’’
But Doubleday believes the Wilpon family will fight to retain majority control of the team. ``I think they are going to do everything they can to hang on to it,’’ he said. ``I think they have genuine interest in it.’’
Doubleday and Wilpon grew apart and by 2002, Doubleday sold out to Wilpon. ``I felt it was time to get out and they wanted to go on and I said fine by me,'' he said. ``They bought me out and I went on my own way.
``I just haven’t seen him,'' he said of Wilpon. ``It’s s not as if we go out and have dinner every night or lunch every day. It’s none of my business what he does with the baseball team. He runs the baseball team the way he runs it and I may not run it that way...''
Doubleday has no interest in returning to an ownership stake, saying ``Been there, seen that, done that.''