By PAT GRAHAM, Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — The O'Malleys are back in the baseball business.
Back in Southern California, too, just down the road in San Diego instead of Los Angeles.
In a quick vote Thursday, Major League Baseball owners approved the sale of the Padres to a group that includes Kevin and Brian O'Malley, the sons of former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley.
Commissioner Bud Selig announced the endorsement after the conclusion of the owners meetings in Denver.
Under the deal, the group will buy the franchise from owner John Moores for around $800 million. The final closing of the sale will be on or before Aug. 31.
Ron Fowler, a local businessman in San Diego, will become the executive chairman. The new ownership group also consists of Peter and Tom Seidler, the nephews of Peter O'Malley, along with golfer Phil Mickelson.
This is a group of heavy hitters, especially given the pedigree of the O'Malley family. The late Walter O'Malley bought the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 and moved them to Los Angeles before the 1958 season.
Peter O'Malley eventually took over for his father and all told under the family's ownership, the Dodgers won six World Series and 13 NL championships before being sold in 1998.
In comparison, the Padres have been to two World Series, losing in 1984 and 1998.
This is an organization once owned by the late Ray Kroc, who helped build McDonald's into a household name, and also Tom Werner, the producer of Roseanne Barr's television show.
However, the franchise is probably better known for wearing distinctive brown-and-gold uniforms decades ago. Some fans are even clamoring to bring those jerseys back.
The ownership group didn't address the uniform issue Thursday.
What they did do is give a vote of confidence to CEO Tom Garfinkel and general manager Josh Byrnes.
"We're looking for a long, consistent ownership group here," Fowler said. "As a San Diegan — I've been there for 30-plus years now — I think it's great for baseball in San Diego, that the O'Malley family and the Seidler family are going to be the owners. I'm looking forward to having some fun over the next five to 10 years."
As for what name this new ownership group may operate under, Peter Seidler smiled and said, "The Padres."
"Really, the 'Padres Group,'" he said. "We want the attention and spotlight to be on a great product on the field. We're going to be supportive and do everything we can to bring that down to San Diego. We're a bunch of Padres up here."
That's why Selig & Co. were supportive.
"This group knows what it takes to compete," Selig said. "They're very optimistic. I'm optimistic. I've gone over their projections, gone over everything. I think their projections are optimistic, but realistic. This is a good day for baseball.
"I think Padres fans have a right to be very happy today — very happy."
San Diego fans hope a change in owners can energize the Padres, who regularly have had one of baseball's lowest payrolls and have largely struggled since reaching the 1998 World Series. The Padres are 52-67 this season and sit in fourth place in the NL West.
"It's a great day for the Padres. It's a great day for the organization. It's a great day for the city," Padres manager Bud Black said. "I think the Seidler family, the O'Malley family, Ron Fowler, these guys coming on board, it's fantastic.
"It's the start of an era of new ownership, which I think is a very positive thing. It's great."
The agreement with the new group came months after Jeff Moorad's attempt to buy the team on a layaway plan collapsed. Moores' deal with Moorad, who began his attempted purchase of the club in 2009, was valued at about $500 million. Moores' divorce forced him to put the team on the market in 2009.
Selig said it's going to be difficult to say farewell to Moores.
"I saw him this morning and I got very emotional," Selig said. "John did a lot of wonderful things for baseball. Very helpful for me, during a time when things weren't, frankly, as great as they are right now. I know it's the right thing for him to do. Believe me, I like John Moores a lot. He did a lot for this sport — a lot."
Selig was amazed at the ease with which this deal got approved by the owners. The vote was over in no time.
"There's always a little bit of a problem here or a problem there," Selig said. "The San Diego group is terrific.
"They were very cooperative. They came in and had all of their work done. It was just easy. There was no other way to say it, it was just easy."
The price for this sale was inflated thanks to a deal with Fox and the recent sale of the Dodgers for $2 billion.
Asked about the local television situation, Seidler didn't want to talk about that until after the deal becomes final.
"We're a combination thrilled to be in this position, but also feel a great sense of responsibility to the game and community of San Diego," Seidler said. "We really look forward to going to work and doing everything we can to make the city of San Diego happy with our leadership, particularly the fans. Bottom line: We're just happy to get going, work hard and take a bunch of good steps in the right direction."
AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson in San Diego and Ron Blum in New York, and Associated Press freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd in Atlanta contributed.
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