But Judge Blackshear said that in the interest of getting the highest prices for the creditors, who are owed more than $320 million by Mr. Jacobs, he would grant a recess requested by Mr. Fugett's attorney.
During the recess, Mr. Fugett essentially dropped out, later refusing to comment on why he never placed a bid.
After the recess, Mr. Loria countered with $171 million, and the bidding continued until -- $21 million and 45 minutes after the opening bid -- the Angelos-DeWitt group offered its winning bid.
FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION
The price was $173 million, although on paper the offer was $174 million vs. $173 million for Mr. Loria. The reason is that the Angelos- DeWitt group was given $1 million credit for legal work done in drafting the sale contract.
The result was the highest price for a sports team in North America, bettering the $140 million paid for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 (that price included the Cowboys' home, Texas Stadium). The previous record for a baseball team was $106 million for the Seattle Mariners last year.
Reaction ranged from joy to skepticism.
"When they told me that Peter Angelos had purchased the team, I was just ecstatic. There's no other word," said Mr. Schaefer, a driving force behind building the Orioles' new park at Camden Yards.
However, a fan at Camden Yards last night, Craig Ratcliffe of Hanover, Md., said: "Whoo, I just hope they can afford to keep the team. Are they going to be able to go after the players? Are they going to have to raise ticket prices? How much is a hot dog going to cost?"
Mr. Loria said he also worried that the bidding drove up the price so high that the Angelos-DeWitt group may be cash-strapped -- especially with a proposed major-league revenue-sharing agreement that could cut into future Orioles profits.
These concerns had prompted another group of investors to quit a week ago. The Jemal brothers, who run the Nobody Beats the Wiz electronics discount chain, bowed out early.
The creditors, however, responded with broad smiles because the auction boosted the amount they will receive, although the high price will not pay all Mr. Jacobs' debts.
Before entering bankruptcy in late March, Mr. Jacobs had wanted to sell the team to the DeWitt group for $141.3 million. When he entered bankruptcy court, however, the team had to be auctioned off to ensure that creditors got as much money as possible.
"We certainly had hoped for this," said Tom Sperry, an official at Union Bank of Switzerland and co-chairman of the creditors committee. "It was our intention for the market to speak for itself, and it has."