For the past 15 years, Tim Golden has poured his heart, soul, and wallet into the San Luis Obispo Blues--a local semiprofessional baseball team. But on the night of March 6, after a decade and a half of financial struggles and turmoil with the city, Golden and his partners, John Rourke and Joe Vergara, agreed to sell the club to Sacramento resident and baseball entrepreneur Stevie Mac.
"It was everything to me," Golden said about the Blues, as he poured a Budweiser draft beer during his bartending shift at Bull's Tavern. "But I never ended a season without being 20 to 25 grand in the hole, and the last two years were six-figure losses."
To help clot the economic bleeding, Golden said he was forced to sell his beloved baseball team.
According to the club's new owner, Mac, who owns a team in Lodi and the Sierra Baseball League, the purchase cost him about $500,000. Golden said that he expects to receive around $70,000 for his share of the deal--$100,000 less than what he was offered just one year ago.
"We just had so much debt," Golden said as he pulled back his well-worn Blues' visor and ran his fingers through his dirty-blonde hair. "[Selling] was pretty much our only out."
Golden got his start with the Blues in December of 1993 when he filed a business license with the city to take over the now defunct SLO Bulls baseball team. Within a couple of months, he helped bring the Blues (which played in SLO from 1946 to 1983) back to town after a 10-year hiatus.
"I was a fan of the Blues back in the '60s and '70s, and I wanted to secure that for the future of others," he said. "It was more important than my girlfriends. It's what I dedicated my life to."
Many people throughout the community appreciated Golden's revival of the team.
"Tim did a great job resurrecting the team and taking it to a level we can all be proud of," said Vergara, a cofounder of Jamba Juice who became majority owner of the Blues in 2005.
"Tim has done an absolute outstanding job creating enthusiasm for Blues and baseball here [in SLO], and that's evident by the amount of support in the community," Mac said. "From my standpoint, we're going to capitalize on that enthusiasm."
Now, all that community enthusiasm and support of the Blues that Golden spent the last 15 years building will be in the hands of Mac, who said that there will be some big changes in the Blues' future. The team will once again compete in the California Collegiate League during the 2008 season, but will join his Sierra League in 2009. Once that happens, the Blues will compete with teams ranging from Medford, Ore., to Los Angeles.
Then, according to Mac, the Blues will no longer compete in the National Baseball Congress World Series, but will instead play for the league title, participate in a televised All-Star game that will be broadcast to more than 12 million households, and challenge the USA Olympic team to a game in SLO on July 31, 2009.
"The operation will be more sophisticated and the level of competition will be a shade higher," Mac said. "The talent of the players from the top to bottom of the roster will improve--we'll have the top prospects in the country. We think SLO has the opportunity to be the marquee franchise in the West."
Despite the schedule changes, Mac said he plans on retaining the Blues' incumbent staff, from the office employees to the clubhouse coaching personnel.
Golden described selling the club as bittersweet.
"It's been a tough situation. I put my whole life into it," he said. "But [selling the team] is the best thing for the Blues and the best thing for the community."
Golden said that he hopes to still be involved with the Blues, but if that's not the case, then he plans on starting a team in north or south county.
Staff Reporter Kai Beech can be reached at email@example.com.