Before Tuesday, on a rainy evening in Baltimore, Grant Hill hadn’t stepped inside Camden Yards for about 30 years.

But the basketball star has connections here anyway, and when he joined Kevin Brown and Jim Palmer in the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network booth for two innings during Tuesday’s game against the Royals, he did so as part of an ownership group led by control person David Rubenstein.

He called it a “full-circle” moment for his family. His father, former NFL star Calvin Hill, worked in the Orioles’ front office as the vice president for personnel for six years. Hill’s late mother, Janet, worked on the board of Carlyle Group, the private equity firm co-founded by Rubenstein.

It’s only natural, then, that a new era for the Orioles includes the NBA Hall of Famer.

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“For about 10 years, I would always tell David, ‘Whenever you’re ready to buy the Orioles, I want to go in with you,’” Hill said on MASN. “He called me in November and said, ‘I’m ready,’ so here we are.”

By the end of January, the sale agreement was announced. And last week, before opening day, Major League Baseball owners officially approved of the Angelos family’s sale of a controlling stake in the team.

Hill is one of several part owners. Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr., billionaire Michael Bloomberg, business leader and Washington Spirit owner Michele Kang, former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, and three executives with Ares Management Corp. — Michael Arougheti, Mitchell Goldstein and Michael Smith — are also part of the group.

Out of all of them, perhaps only Hill and Ripken know what it’s like to be part of a championship-winning locker room. Before Tuesday’s game, Hill and his father spoke with members of the Orioles in the clubhouse. Hill said his father did most of the talking, describing his long-held love for the Orioles and exulting on how cohesive and talented Baltimore appeared.

“I basically said, ‘Look, I’m a glorified fan, but I’m a big fan,’” Hill said. “I’m a basketball guy, obviously, but I’ve been in locker rooms. I’ve been in some good ones and I’ve been in some bad ones. I think since this has all materialized, for me, you can see the spirit, you can see the togetherness, you can see the talent. And you can see the future, and the future’s now. It’s very exciting.”

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Hill isn’t new to ownership. He is a part owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, MLS’ Orlando City SC and NWSL’s Orlando Pride.

As a result, Hill said this of an owner’s role: “You want to establish a vision, you want to give resources, and you want to stay out of the way.”

He also recognizes how impactful a sports franchise can be for a city. Hill grew up in Fairfax, Virginia, but he knows Rubenstein is a Baltimore native who cares deeply for the city in which he was raised.

Hill called the Orioles a “civic asset. We’re just stewards at this point in time. This team belongs to this city.”

“It can bring a city together, it can boost its morale, it can do so much,” Hill said. “And I think David Rubenstein understands that. He’s from Baltimore himself, and he’s excited not just about this team and not just this potential and opportunity, but what the team can do and how it can impact this community.”

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On opening day, for instance, the Orioles welcomed Aubree Singletary to throw out the first pitch, a fourth grader from Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School.

Palmer, the Hall of Fame pitcher-turned-analyst, asked Hill a question on many fans’ minds. Would the new ownership group target extensions for the slew of talented young players who are centerpieces? He pointed to infielder Bobby Witt Jr. of Kansas City signing an extension, and the Atlanta Braves’ habit of locking in young stars.

“That’s the plan, and how lucky are we — and I say we, the ownership group, but also the fanbase and city — to have a great young team with great potential,” Hill said. “With that, though, obviously guys get older and decisions have to be made, but I think there’s a real commitment to make those right decisions and give ourselves a chance to win a World Series, and that’s the plan. David wants to win. I think he’s committed to doing so. But I also respect just how hard it is — it’s not an easy undertaking by any stretch of the imagination.”

Hill wrapped up his segment with a word of condolence for former Orioles president Larry Lucchino, who died Tuesday. Hill’s father worked in the front office alongside Lucchino in Baltimore as well as San Diego.

“He’s somebody that meant a lot to this team and this community,” Hill said, looking out at the stadium that required Lucchino’s vision to be completed.

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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