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Originally published April 11, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 20, 2007 at 9:08 PM

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Jay Buhner back in baseball as part-owner

Hard to tell who was more delighted...ay Buhner or his two boys — at Tuesday's news conference to announce the former Mariner's...

Times Snohomish County bureau

Hard to tell who was more delighted — Jay Buhner or his two boys — at Tuesday's news conference to announce the former Mariner's new ownership share in the Everett AquaSox.

"The other day they pulled me aside and said, 'Hey Dad, we want you back in baseball. We want you to be a coach,' " said Buhner, who retired after the 2001 season.

This is better, he said. Now they'll get the best of both worlds — Buhner as a year-round dad, and professional baseball, too.

Buhner and 2004 gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi are among seven new minority owners introduced by team Chairman Peter Carfagna, whose family retains a majority interest in the AquaSox.

The Carfagnas, who live in the Cleveland area, bought the short-season Class A team from the Sperandio family after the 2004 season.

Carfagna called Buhner "my all-time favorite Mariner" and exclaimed over the outfielder's "iconic status" among fans.

Buhner peeled off his shirt to don an AquaSox jersey bearing his old number, 19.

"A little tight," he quipped, as he struggled into it. "Been working out."

Buhner said he saved a tie-dyed AquaSox jersey that he wore in August 2001, when he played in the team's annual "Frogstock" game during a three-day rehabilitation stint.

"I had a blast," he recalled. "I got to sit in the dugout rubbing elbows with the guys."

He promised to make the 45-minute drive north from his Fall City home as often as possible, to mentor the young players and mingle with fans.

"I love this game," he said. "I live and breathe baseball; I wear it on my sleeve."

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Rossi reminisced about his baseball past, too. Growing up in Mountlake Terrace, he played on 12 teams over nine years, he said, including in Little League and for Woodway High School.

"The most nervous I ever was [during the 2004 campaign] was when I was invited to throw out the first pitch at an Everett AquaSox game," Rossi said. "I was afraid I'd throw it in the dirt."

So how did he do?

"I painted the corner," he said.

The other new owners, all from the Everett community, are Tom and Shawn Hoban, Mike Harmon, Mark McNaughton and Bill Tsoukalis, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County.

The purchase prices paid by the new owners were not disclosed.

The sale is subject to approval by the Northwest League, Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball.

Diane Brooks: 425-745-7802 or dbrooks@seattletimes.com

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