Bumper Crop

Owning a Piece of the Yankees and Major Stakes in the Minor Leagues Dream Come True for Goldklang
By Robert Strauss

Richard Sprague  
Marvin Goldklang W'63, L'66, a minority owner of the New York Yankees, has much bigger holdings in the minor leagues. Here he dusts home plate at the ballpark that is home to one of his teams, the Hudson Valley Renegades of Fishkill, N.Y. In nonchalant poses on either side of him are Mike Veeck (left), a business partner since the late 1980s, and comedian and movie star Bill Murray, a large investor in Goldklang's minor league franchises.

It was a bright spring morning in 1978, but Marvin Goldklang W'63, L'66 was getting antsy. He and his dad, Norman, were in Fort Lauderdale for their annual Spring Training jaunt and the first game was still three hours away.

As he sat on the deck of the hotel pool, he overheard a few young men, apparently New York Yankees employees, talking about how then-Yankee general manager Gabe Paul, and another part-owner, Steve O'Neill were making a deal to sell their share of the team so they could buy the Cleveland Indians.

"I filed that away, went to the games, came back to the office Monday morning and called Gabe Paul," says Goldklang, then a young turk partner in the prestigious New York law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel. When Goldklang asked if he could buy Paul's Yankee share, Paul said the deal seemed secure, but he would have anyone else selling get back to him. That started the wheels in motion. The following year, another part-owner, John McMullen, wanted to move up as well selling his small part of the team to buy the Houston Astros.

"It wasn't the largest share, but it wasn't the smallest, so it did cost some money," says Goldklang, who grew up in the middle-class New Jersey suburbs of Bayonne and Teaneck. "But what a dream for a lifelong obsessed baseball fan, a Yankee fan, to own even a little bit of the team."

Unlike Paul and McMullen, Goldklang never intends on selling his share, no matter what its eventual worth.

In this case, Goldklang made a successful pitch. Not so in his time on the Penn baseball team. "I had a monumentally unimpressive career," says Goldklang in his office on the ground floor of a nondescript building in Florham Park, the North Jersey town where the New York Jets train. "I threw hard, but I had no second pitch. I never knew where the ball was going."

With a baseball career as likely as Yankees' closer Mariano Rivera in the designated hitter spot, Goldklang attended Penn Law School after Wharton and gained the tools he needed to practice law, start a leveraged buyout division for an investment firm, and head The Goldklang Group, a sports entertainment and consulting and management firm that owns four minor league baseball franchises: Charleston Riverdogs (South Carolina), Hudson Valley Renegades (Fishkill, N.Y.), Fort. Myers Miracle (Florida), and the Saint Paul Saints (Minnesota).

Goldklang entered the world of minor league baseball when a friend of an investment banking client who owned a minor-league team in Utica, N.Y., asked Goldklang if he would help him negotiate the purchase of some concessions equipment. Goldklang says his attorneys fees may well have been more than the loan for the equipment, so instead he proposed that he write the client a check for a six-percent interest in the team instead.

"Part of the deal was that they would sign me to a contract and I would get to pitch a game, just one game," says Goldklang, still pursuing that on-field baseball Valhalla. Unfortunately, as he was rounding into pitching shape the team was sold, taking his money and his "Field of Dreams" moment away.