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December 6, 2023

Portland Sea Dogs owner adds another Red Sox affiliate to baseball empire

Batter and catcher on the field at Hadlock File Photo / Renee Cordes The Worcester Red Sox have been acquired by the company that owns the Portland Sea Dogs, shown in their 2023 opening game last April. The Dogs beat the Binghamton (N.Y.) Rumble Ponies, 7-5.

The Worcester Red Sox on Tuesday afternoon announced that the Minor League Baseball team will be sold to Diamond Baseball Holdings, a New York City company that owns more than 20 teams including the Portland Sea Dogs, a Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

According to a press release that confirmed previous reporting, Ralph Crowley Jr., president and CEO of Worcester, Mass., manufacturer Polar Beverages, will be retained as part of the ownership group, along with Jim Skeffington Jr., president and CEO of Red Beam Partners, and Larry Lucchino, chairperson and current principal owner of the WooSox.

Financial terms were not disclosed. When Lucchino and the rest of the ownership group bought the then Pawtucket Red Sox in 2015, the reported purchase price was $25 million.

“Spearheaded by Red Sox Hall of Famer Larry Lucchino, who has and will continue to have a massive impact on the baseball world and particularly in this city, the WooSox ownership group is proud of what we’ve set in motion and thrilled to now give DBH the reins,” Crowley said in the release.

“Peter, Pat, and the team at DBH are committed to advancing our shared vision of excellent baseball and a standout fan experience for the Worcester community. Larry and I are grateful to the Red Sox organization for the continued partnership and look forward to more Red Sox baseball with DBH.”

The WooSox will remain a Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox and will continue to play their home games at Polar Park in Worcester following completion of the deal, according to the release. The team’s executive suite will remain in place as well, including President Charles Steinberg and General Manager Dan Rea.

Diamond is buying out the majority of shares from the ownership group, which includes six people other than Crowley, Lucchino, and Skeffington: 

  • Sam Kennedy, president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox and CEO of Fenway Sports Group in Boston
  • William Egan, founder and general partner at Boston-based Alta Communications
  • Habib Gorg, managing director of Providence private equity firm Nautic Partners
  • Terry Murray, the former CEO of Fleet Bank in Boston
  • Thomas Ryan, former chairman and CEO of Rhode Island healthcare firm CVS
  • Frank Resnek, a partner of Fenway Sports Group
  • Paul Salem, principal of Providence Equity Partners
  • Mike Tamburro, former vice chairman of the Pawtucket Red Sox.

“At 78, and after 44 years in baseball, I believe it’s time to have a succession plan, one that assures a commitment to baseball and a commitment to Worcester,” Lucchino said in the release. “Jim Skeffington’s late father and I set out to keep the Boston Red Sox’ Triple-A club in New England, and in good hands, and I trust that Pat and Peter will be excellent stewards.”

Diamond Baseball Holdings purchased the Sea Dogs in December 2022 and now owns 26 Minor League Baseball teams. The WooSox will be the third Red Sox farm team owned by Diamond, which also owns the Salem Red Sox in Virginia.

“We are thrilled to add the WooSox to the DBH family, our third Red Sox affiliate and a transformational Triple-A franchise for both Minor League Baseball and the City of Worcester,” Pat Battle and Peter Freund, executive chairman and CEO of Diamond Baseball Holdings, respectively, said in the release.

“We are beyond excited to partner with Ralph Crowley of Polar Beverages on the purchase of the club and very grateful to Larry Lucchino, Sam Kennedy, and the entire Red Sox organization for entrusting us with this incredible franchise.”

The transaction is expected to be completed before the end of 2023, subject to approval from Major League Baseball.

In a separate deal, Diamond Baseball Holdings will acquire the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, a Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays and a rival of the Sea Dogs. Terms were not disclosed in that deal, which also was announced Tuesday.

Editor's Note: The Worcester Business Journal is an affiliate of Mainebiz, and both are part of New England Business Media.

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