Year of the Dragons

By Marc Katz

I know kids with massive baseball card collections and player posters on their bedroom walls.

I know adults who can’t finish ordering in a restaurant without checking a cellphone for the latest score.

I know sports writers who attend games on their days off (and have been one of them).

And I’m getting to know Greg Rosenbaum and his partners Nick Sakellariadis and Michael Savit, who bought the Dayton Dragons for their Palisades Arcadia Baseball LLC private equity firm in the summer of 2014.

Rosenbaum is a merchant banker in Washington, D.C., as well as a big-time Democrat, so it’s not like he has nothing else to do. It’s the same with retired New York banker Sakellariadis and Savit, who operates a sports marketing and promotions business out of Boston.

Their common thread is all are Harvard graduates, and all love being at the ball yard, none more than Rosenbaum, who holds season tickets to four (down from six) major league teams, attended more than 150 baseball games last season with his wife Marti, including most of the World Baseball Classic, and has been involved at least twice in trying to purchase a major league team.

The partners looked at 20 minor league teams on the market before homing in on the Dragons and insisting president Bob Murphy and executive vice-president Eric Deutsch continue their franchise management.

There’s no outrageous bickering between ownership and team management like you might find in, say, politics, even when it was decided to get ahead of the protective grandstand netting mandate.

The Dragons found unobtrusive netting to stretch foul pole to foul pole.

That was an expense above purchasing the team, as was the $1.1 million for a new video board.

The owners agreed, anyway, even Rosenbaum, who didn’t initially embrace the
netting situation.

“I love baseball, completely,” Sakellariadis said. “I’ve always loved it. I started going to games with my dad as a little kid. But there is nobody in the Greg category.

“I remember the first time I discovered his baseball love.”

They were attending an important Harvard alumni meeting, but Rosenbaum wanted Sakellariadis to cover for him while he attended his daughter’s softball game.

Sakellaridis refused, meeting Rosenbaum’s astonishment by saying he wanted to go to the game as well.

“We both snuck out of this super important alumni meeting and I ended up becoming sort of a groupie fan of the softball team,” said Sakellariadis, who attended so many games other parents thought he was one, too.

Later, Rosenbaum took interest in Nick’s son’s high school travel team games.

Among the many games the Rosenbaums attended last season was a rain-delayed one at Fifth Third Field, when they left their seats for their next door condo at Delco Lofts.

It was not the end of their evening. When Marti looked out the window and saw it stopped raining, they both went back to the game, staying to the end.

“Growing up in Boston,” Savit said, “my father and I would go to (Red Sox) games and he was kind of big on beating the traffic, so we’d leave early.

“A couple years ago, I was in DC and Greg invited me to his suite at Nats Stadium.

“I don’t remember the game; I don’t remember the score. All I remember is it got to be probably top of the 8th and I went up to Greg and said, ‘I’ve got to take off now.’ “He said, ‘What do you mean you have to take off? There’s still an inning and a half to go.’

“I’m like, ‘Well, it’s a regular season game and I have to take a cab and I don’t want to have to battle 35,000 people. I’m taking off.’ He looked at me like I lost my head.”

Rosenbaum didn’t agree with putting up netting, either, but loves it now.

“We were in the forefront of extending netting beyond the dugouts,” Rosenbaum said, noting the team didn’t opt for just any netting.

“A lot of work went into that. We have (virtually) knotless netting, so you don’t even notice that.”

You don’t even notice the extensive retrofitting to accommodate the netting.

“One story on that,” Sakellariadis said. “We had a handful of passionate fans who were outraged. Greg agonized over it. One of these fans shows up on opening day and pigeonholes Bob Murphy and starts walking with him down the third base line. “’You know when you put up that netting, it will destroy everything, we won’t be able to see anything. The views will be terrible. I can’t believe you did this. It’s going to be awful.’

“And Murphy says, ‘Um, the netting is already up.’ The guy didn’t even know the netting was up because Bob had purchased such a high quality product. That was attention to detail to make sure this worked out.”

Attention to detail, management and ownership working together, in baseball we trust.

There’s no chaos in this house.

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Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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