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Phillies Owner Gets Rich . . . Very Rich

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If I read the business stories in the paper, I'd have noticed this interesting tidbit in a story about a local tobacco business being sold:

John Middleton Inc., which began as a Center City tobacco shop in 1856, was acquired yesterday for $2.9 billion in cash, providing a rich payday for one of the owners of the Phillies.

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The seller is privately held Bradford Holdings of suburban Philadelphia, headed by John S. Middleton, whom friends describe as an intensely competitive, private businessman. His holdings include the McIntosh Inn hotels and a minority share in the Phillies.

Middleton inherited the Phillies' stake from his father, Herbert H. Middleton Jr.

Middleton would like to own a bigger share of the Phillies and make the team more competitive, according to people who know him. He has been frugal with the team's budget for salaries, but has been willing to raise it to get a star, such as Jim Thome in 2002, according to people close to the team.

Now, I've been at the front of the line in criticizing the Phillies owners, but if it's true that one of the owners both a) recognizes that the team needs to be more competitive and b) has a newfound boatload of cash, then I'm all for this guy getting more of a share of the team and seeing what he can do (A-Rod anyone?).  And, is it that much of a pipedream to think that someone who just sold a very profitable business now wants to get a notch in his belt in another competitive industry?  Think Jeff Lurie here.

One can only dream, but isn't that what the off-season is for?

Hat tip to Todd Zolecki on this one.