The news, as reported Wednesday in The Daily Star, that the Outlaws baseball franchise will be owned by an Oneonta native determined to see that it remains here for the foreseeable future sounds almost too good to be true.
However, we have every reason — based on the excellent reputation of local businessman Gary Laing — to believe that the good news is indeed true.
Laing said the sale of the team to him by Keith Rogers and Dan Scaring could be made final by the end of the week.
On Tuesday, the Common Council approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Dick Miller to change the owner’s name on the Outlaws’ contract with the city to rent Damaschke Field.
In this era of absentee owners who care more about profits than supporting a community, Laing, 55, would seem to be a breath of fresh air. He’s a 1975 graduate of Oneonta High who lives in his childhood home in the East End of Oneonta with his wife, Karen, and his young sons, Chris and Josh.
The best thing Laing told Sports Editor Dean Russin was that he intends to own the franchise until his sons, who attend Valleyview Elementary and play Little League baseball, are old enough to take over.
Laing opened The Shipping Room in his home in 1991 as a drop-off location for U.S. Mail, UPS and Fed Ex packages. He moved the business to 291 Chestnut St. in 1998.
Oneonta had a rich history of local baseball ownership since 1966 thanks to partners Sam Nader and Sid Levine, who were both in their 90s when they sold the New York-Penn League Oneonta Tigers to a group of investors led by New York City lawyer E. Miles Prentice III in December of 2008.
Prentice’s group promised to stay through 2010 but left for Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn., following the 2009 season. Rogers and Scaring moved their wood-bat collegiate franchise from Saratoga to Damaschke Field in February 2010.
In 2011, the Outlaws signed a five-year contract with the city to rent Damaschke Field for $185 per game, with another $250 per game required to use the lights. The per-game cost to use the field was to increase $10 in each subsequent year.
“This is a heartwarming type of purchase,” said Miller, who confirmed Monday that the terms of the lease would remain the same, as the council was voting only on changing the name on the rental agreement.
With local ownership apparently secured for a long time to come, we urge our neighbors to take themselves out to the ball games as often as they can make it next year.