Lamson sells his interest in Drillers
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Thursday, December 23, 2010
12/23/10 at 4:34 AM
Related story: Lamson went from pitching to owning Drillers.
Chuck Lamson, who has been with the Tulsa Drillers in various roles since 1979 and been the team's majority owner for five seasons, has sold his interest in the Texas League professional baseball team to minority owner Went Hubbard.
In 2006, Lamson purchased controlling interest from Hubbard, who had owned the team since December 1986. Hubbard's sons, Dale and Jeff, will operate the team as co-chairmen. Jeff Hubbard is a former Drillers player and coach.
"There's going to be committed ownership and the fans won't notice a difference," Lamson said.
Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and the Texas League have approved Went Hubbard's purchase that gives him 100 percent of the team. The purchase price was not announced.
The Drillers are coming off a record attendance season in their first year at ONEOK Field in downtown Tulsa. Lamson was named the Texas League's Executive of the Year for a third time.
"We wouldn't be where we are today without Chuck's efforts," Drillers general manager Mike Melega said. "He's right up there with the most important names in Tulsa pro baseball history. We've all learned a lot from him."
So why is Lamson selling the Double-A team?
"The timing was right for me," Lamson said. "I've been doing this for 30 years and I've loved it.
"One thing I really wanted to do before I moved on was to secure the future of the franchise in Tulsa with a new ballpark. A lot of hard work was put into that and I have a sense of satisfaction. It's a good culmination of my career with the Drillers. I've been fortunate to have had a lot of opportunities with the Drillers from pitching to groundskeeper to assistant general manager to running the club."
Lamson, who began with the Drillers as a pitcher in 1979, purchased controlling interest in 2006 with the intention of eventually acquiring Went Hubbard's remaining shares. However, discussions with Dale and Jeff Hubbard began moving in a different direction in early 2010 when they expressed an interest in buying out Lamson.
"I knew this day would come eventually, but it arrived a little quicker than I expected," Lamson said about leaving the Drillers. "But I look at how everything fell into place as God's way of leading me in this direction. We worked out a very fair financial settlement and it was all very amicable.
"I'm going to be working with Dale and Jeff for a little while to help in the transition. I know they are committed to running things the right way. Everything is going to be much the same. It's going to be business as usual. I see some symmetry to it. Their dad was a good steward of baseball in Tulsa and taught me a lot and now I can pass on the team to his sons."
Went Hubbard's health will keep him from being actively involved with the team's operation. He was elected to the Texas League's Hall of Fame in 2006.
Dale Hubbard is an agricultural businessman who lives, as does his father, in Walpole, N.H. Except for ownership, no changes are planned in the Drillers' front office, many of whom were hired when Went Hubbard was the majority owner previously.
"Over the years, Chuck and my father have put together a great team here in the front office," Dale Hubbard said in a Drillers press release. Jeff and I and our staff will continue to strive to give our fans a great place to come for relaxation and enjoyment. Our father set a good example for us to follow, and we intend to carry on his legacy."
Jeff Hubbard played in the minor leagues from 1984-88, primarily as an infielder before converting to a pitcher in his final season. He played for the Drillers in 1987 and was their hitting coach in 1991 for a team that included catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, who went on to become a 14-time major league all-star and American League Most Valuable Player. After the '91 season, Jeff Hubbard left pro baseball to operate a fitness center in Durham, N.C., where he lives.
Drillers general manager Mike Melega said that Dale and Jeff Hubbard plan to operate the team much as their father did. Melega expects the co-chairmen to be present for all the home games and to spend half their time during the offseason in Tulsa. Dale and Jeff Hubbard were at many of the Drillers home games during the final six weeks of the 2010 season.
"From our perspective, the Hubbards have the same philosophy we have all been bred on, that Drillers baseball will be fun family entertainment and we plan on continuing that tradition," Melega said.
The Drillers' affiliation that runs through 2014 with the Colorado Rockies will not be affected.
Tulsa Stadium Trust chairman Stan Lybarger said in the Drillers release, "We want to express our thanks to Chuck Lamson for everything he has done for the Tulsa Drillers and the Tulsa community. We are looking forward to working with the Hubbards and Mike Melega, and building upon the outstanding success the Drillers have enjoyed at ONEOK Field."
Lamson, 54, plans to continue living in Tulsa and to be a frequent visitor to ONEOK Field as a season-ticket holder.
"The bottom line is I know the Drillers are in good hands and this is an opportunity for me to do something different," Lamson said. "I'm not going to rush into anything. A lot of pro teams need help so I might be able to do some consulting work.
"I love being in Tulsa. Not many people get to work in one place like I have for 32 years. I've been extremely fortunate with some good mentors, learning from (former Drillers general manager) Joe Preseren and Went Hubbard. Dale and Jeff Hubbard, just like their father, have a genuine passion and desire for Drillers baseball and will continue running things much the same way."
Lamson, Drillers go way back B2
Original Print Headline: Lamson sells his interest in the Drillers
Barry Lewis 581-8393
Chuck Lamson: "I knew this day would come eventually, but it arrived a little quicker than I expected."
Drillers owner Chuck Lamson shows the press box to the media at the new ONEOK Field in Tulsa on Feb. 15. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World file