Gary Green has parlayed his love for baseball into both a business investment and a museum-quality hobby.
Green, the new CEO and managing partner of the Omaha Storm Chasers, is a diehard fan who is also part of the ownership group of the Class AA Richmond Flying Squirrels.
He's also a New Yorker and lifelong Mets fan.
“My greatest moment … Game 6 of the '86 World Series, I was there,” Green said. “The stadium held 60,000 and there's probably 250,000 people who say they were there, but I was actually there.”
Green will be introduced at a press conference scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at Werner Park. His group of investors, which includes fellow managing partners Larry Botel, Brian Callaghan and Eric Foss, takes over 100 percent ownership of Omaha's Class AAA team.
Former team president Alan Stein has come back as a minority partner and consultant, while Green's father, Stephen, also is among the investors.
Previously, the Omaha team had been shared by Philadelphia businessman William Shea (50 percent), along with local businessmen Warren Buffett (25 percent) and Walter Scott (25 percent).
“I'm more interested in the baseball side,” Green said. “There's other things to invest in that perhaps could make an easier to find, better return. You have to have a real passion for baseball to be involved in the baseball business.”
Back to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series for that passion.
That's the game when a 10th-inning ground ball by the Mets' Mookie Wilson rolled between the legs of Boston first baseman Bill Buckner. The Mets, who had already scored two runs to tie the game, suddenly won the game to tie the series. Buckner, despite having had an excellent career with 2,715 hits, became infamous when the Red Sox eventually lost the series in Game 7.
At an auction, Green said, he acquired the glove and cleats Buckner wore.
“I can't disclose it,” Green said, laughing.
Among his other Mets-related memorabilia, Green said, are the “shoe-polish” ball that hit Cleon Jones in a pivotal moment of Game 5 of the 1969 World Series, sparking a Mets comeback; part of the wall and the final home plate used at Shea Stadium; the last glove Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter wore for the Mets; the glove shortstop Kevin Elster used during a record 88-game errorless streak; the jersey worn by shortstop Jose Reyes when he hit for the cycle; and the jersey worn by Endy Chavez while making a miraculous catch at the wall in Game 7 of the 2006 National League championship series.
Green said many of his mementos used to be on display in the Hall of Fame Museum section of the Mets' new ballpark, Citi Field.
Growing up on Long Island, Green said, Mets and Yankees fans are mutually exclusive, thus the 46-year-old has a soft spot for the Kansas City Royals, Omaha's parent club, who back in the 1970s and early 1980s often antagonized the Yankees.
“I used to play third base and I'd pretend I was George Brett,” Green said. “I liked the Royals because they beat up on the Yankees.”
Owning a baseball team, Green said, became his goal once he realized that a career as a professional player wouldn't happen.
Finally, in 2009, he and Botel got involved with the Class AA team in Norwich, Conn., which would eventually relocate to Richmond.
Richmond had lost its Class AAA team and had no professional baseball for a year before Green's group brought it back.
“That experience has been extremely rewarding,” Green said. “It was enough where I wanted to get involved in another deal where I could take a more active role like here in Omaha.”
Green pointed out that the franchise in Connecticut was struggling and that was why the team moved, while the one in Omaha has been successful. He said he's considered deals for about 30 teams over the past few years.
Green is the CEO of Alliance Building Services, which he founded in 1992.
“I had a choice to either work for the family business or do my own thing,” Green said. “An MBA in '91, you're thinking finance, you're thinking business … you're not thinking cleaning toilets.
“But I started a building-cleaning company with eight cleaners and a building in 1992 and just grew it over the years. Now we're close to 5,000 employees.”
Four distinct companies have emerged: maintenance, security, messenger centers, and restoration and painting.
“Really anything with skilled, blue-collar labor that could go into an office building,” Green said.
Alliance's client list includes the Empire State Building and a certain ballpark where the Mets play, Citi Field. Alliance also was enlisted by the new Yankee Stadium, too.
“I've got a lot of experience on the operations side opening up those two ballparks,” Green said. “You talk about pressure under fire.”