Nelson Doubleday feels for Wilpons

Updated: February 8, 2011, 2:14 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

For years as a New York Mets' co-owner, Nelson Doubleday battled with Fred Wilpon on how to run the organization. A little less than a decade ago, their sometimes bitter union ended when Wilpon bought out Doubleday.

Now, Wilpon's ownership of the Mets may be on the brink, and Doubleday feels only pity for his former partner and sometime-adversary.

"I'm just very sorry," Doubleday said in a phone conversation. "I don't know what they were doing. It is none of my business so I stay out of it. I'm just very sorry."

With trustee Irving Picard seeking at least $300 million and possibly up to $1 billion to compensate victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, the Wilpons' ownership is in question. According to an ex-official who worked with the Mets for years, it was not unusual for the Wilpons to offer their top employees chances to invest with Madoff.

Doubleday said he never worked with Madoff, but said he often heard the name. Doubleday could not offer concrete details of how much Madoff was involved in the Mets.

"I just knew they were involved with him, but that's all," said Doubleday, who shared ownership with Wilpon for 22 years.

Wilpon is trying to find a person or group to buy 25 percent of the team to protect the Mets against the high debt they have with Citi Field and the potential catastrophic ruling if Picard is successful.

A 25 percent stake in the team purportedly could cost $200 million to $250 million. Still, it would leave the real decision-making to the Wilpons.

"You can make good suggestions," Doubleday said.

Doubleday won't be bidding to get back in. He said he couldn't recall the last time he and Wilpon even spoke. In fact, the man who used to co-own the Mets has never even been to Citi Field.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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