Martin Luther King III wants a piece of the New York Mets.
The son of the late civil-rights leader is uniting with heavy hitters, including Mets legend Ed Kranepool; entrepreneur Donn Clendenon Jr., son of the 1969 Met World Series MVP; TV executive Larry Meli; and a number of unnamed deep-pocketed investors, the New York Post reported Sunday.
“It’s fitting with the legacy of Jackie Robinson essentially transferring to the Mets. What better place to have African-American ownership than with the Mets?” Meli said, noting that Major League Baseball has no African-American owners.
“The time and place are right for it. It just seems to be the right mix of people.”
According to Meli, King, 53, who runs the King Center in Atlanta, is scheduled to come to New York this week to set up a meeting with the Wilpons, who announced Friday they are looking to sell up to 25 percent of the team because of financial woes created by the Bernie Madoff mess.
King declined to comment on the particulars, but Meli said he and his group are looking to purchase at least 50 percent of the club. That could be a roadblock, but Meli said he hopes the two sides can work together.
“I think in order for it to make sense it would have to be at least a 50-50 arrangement,” said Meli, a trusted friend of King.
Kranepool, 66, who is in the credit-card processing business, said: “Hopefully, something can be worked out. I certainly think I can be an asset to that organization. It depends on what they are looking for and how we can structure a deal that’s good for everybody.”
Clendenon added he’s “excited” about the venture. “I was born a Met,” he said.
The Wilpons have done much to honor the legacy of Jackie Robinson, so you would think they would be willing to work with the son of another African-American icon. King is a big sports fan, noted Meli, 58. King threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Civil Rights Game in Atlanta in 2008.
“What professional athlete wouldn’t want to play baseball for Martin Luther King III?” Meli said.
The Mets are worth $858 million, Forbes estimated last year. The King group claims to have more than $1 billion in assets.