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Bottom of the ninth

By Steve Bailey, Globe Staff, 10/6/2000

How far do you stretch?

Red Sox owner John Harrington, an accountant by training, is going to have to decide just how much he wants a new ballpark in the Fenway. Almost everyone around him - his limited partners, his general manager, nearly everyone - is ready to get on the next train out of town. All aboard, John?

Just when everyone was saying Harrington couldn't raise the $350 million to build a stadium, Salomon Smith Barney, the big Wall Street investment firm, is telling him he can. At the same time, FleetBoston Financial, his lead banker, is telling him he probably can't.

The difference is: How far do you stretch?

Salomon is telling Harrington he can build his house on the hill because revenues, whether from television rights or naming rights, are growing. Fleet is cautioning that he might not be able to afford to furnish his house on the hill with the kind of multimillionaires that he will need if he ever wants to bring a championship here.

How far do you stretch?

"Decent" is the word most often associated with Harrington. "Entrepreneurial" is not a word often associated with the Red Sox's owner - or the people around him.

The season is lost. Harrington did nothing while his manager and his general manager spit at each other and the season came to the ugliest of ends. Unless the accountant starts acting considerably more entreprenurial, the second season could end just as ugly.

Pedro was bold. Think Pedro. Think bold, John Harrington.@CAPT. . .

The Wall Street Journal calls him "smelly." Boston philanthropist David Mugar calls him a friend. Smelly or not, we should all have such friends.

When famed gumshoe Terry Lenzner lost his bank financing recently, Mugar says he stepped in a couple of weeks ago with a "temporary loan." Mugar won't discuss details but says the arrangement involves no equity in Lenzner's Investigative Group International, which has about 100 people in 11 offices, Boston included.

Lenzner, a Harvard-educated lawyer based in Washington, is best known as the sleuth Bill Clinton hired to dig up dirt on Paula Jones. But his client list has ranged from Mike Tyson to Ivana Trump. His investigators got caught this year paying as much as $500 a bag for the trash of Microsoft-friendly groups they were probing on behalf of Oracle Corp.

Mugar was one of Lenzner's earliest clients. Twenty years ago, Lenzner helped Mugar win the broadcast license of WNAC-TV, then the call letters of Channel 7. Lenzner uncovered a pattern of bribery and fraud by RKO-General's parent company that prompted the Federal Communications Commission to revoke three RKO licenses. The Boston station was sold to the Mugar group.

"He won the Channel 7 case for us, pure and simple," Mugar told me. Lenzner didn't return my calls over the last couple of days.@CAPT. . .

Health-care mogul Abe Gosman is supposedly in the dumper - but then the rich aren't like us. The Palm Beach Post's Linda Rawls reports that Gosman has plunked down $7 million for six vacant acres on Blossom Way, otherwise known as Billionaires' Row. The purchase squares with the rumors that Gosman quietly has his giant 64,000-square-foot Palm Beach manse, the one with the twin 14-foot-tall Botero statues at the front door, on the market. . . . Any search for a new president for the United Way of America should begin in Boston. With all its turmoil over the last decade, the national United Way could use a sure thing. And I can think of no more sure thing than Marian Heard, who has run Greater Boston's United Way so well since 1992.

You can reach me at (617) 929-2902 or bailey@globe.com.

This story ran on page A01 of the Boston Globe on 10/6/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

 

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