Coalition builder Angelos is man in charge THE SALE OF THE ORIOLES Managing partner will have final say on everything

August 03, 1993|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- His goal, stated so often over the past few months, had been to put the Orioles back in the hands of Maryland investors.

So Peter G. Angelos gathered an eclectic band of investors -- including a best-selling author, a movie director and a Wimbledon champion. Then he led them into bankruptcy court yesterday, where they plunked down the winning bid of $173 million.

Now comes the hard part -- running the Orioles.

After yesterday's court hearing, there were many more questions than answers about how the Orioles will be operated by their new owners. It was abundantly clear, however, that Mr. Angelos will be in charge.

"I'll have ultimate authority in all matters, from the smallest things to the major things," said the Baltimore lawyer, whose title will be managing or general partner of the team.

"But I don't brandish that as some kind of club, and I would hope it would never have to be used. I don't think it will be," he said.

The baseball side of the Orioles isn't likely to change dramatically with Mr. Angelos in charge. He said he generally supports the team's current plan of grooming young players, rather than resorting to signing more expensive free-agent players. And he said that his goal as owner would be to give the fans a competitive team that occasionally brings home the biggest prize.

Winning a World Series "should be the goal for every team," he said. "But that is not the sole consideration. If one can keep a team in contention throughout the season, one has given the fans what they deserve," Mr. Angelos said.

He said he hoped to remove himself from the day-to-day affairs of the team, leaving them to several of his partners and to the team's current front-office staff.

One of the most visible jobs will go to one of Mr. Angelos' newest partners, Cincinnati businessman William O. DeWitt Jr. He will be the Orioles vice chairman for baseball, and have considerable input into player trades and other personnel moves, Mr. Angelos said.

Orioles president Larry Lucchino will be asked to stay with the team as vice chairman of operations, Mr. Angelos said. Mr. Lucchino apparently would continue to make daily operating decisions about the team. (Mr. Lucchino, who owns 9 percent of the Orioles, also would be invited to buy a stock interest in the team when the sale is completed, Mr. Angelos said.)

Tom Clancy also figures in the revamped front-office lineup. Mr. Angelos said the spy novel author, who would be a significant stock holder in the team, will oversee Orioles public affairs and special events.

It wasn't clear exactly what that meant, but Mr. Angelos said that he'd ask Mr. Clancy, who runs a private charitable foundation, to help develop programs that bring senior citizens and terminally ill children to the ballpark.

Those plans aside, Mr. Angelos wasn't ready to talk specifics yesterday.

About a half-hour after the bidding had ended, Mr. Angelos sat beneath photos of New York Yankees and Mets heroes in a pub two blocks from the federal courthouse. The full impact of winning the team hadn't seemed to sunk in yet.

"I don't feel any different than I did before," he said. "I just feel satisfied that we set a goal and accomplished it."

He spoke glowingly of his partners -- the ones he had when he came to New York Sunday night and the batch of new ones inherited from the DeWitt group. And he expressed confidence that they would be able to talk through any differences and run the club with a minimum of discord.

"The mixture of the group should cause no one concern," Mr. Angelos said. "The people we have assembled see eye-to-eye on matters affecting the club, and they will make their contributions to the success of this organization. I see no problem."

Other investors in the winning group also were excited.

Mr. Clancy, who did not attend the auction, said, "We all are looking forward to it. It's a business deal. But there is a larger element of fun to it."

Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, the chairman of the Merry-Go-Round retail chain, said he authorized Mr. Angelos to bid as high as necessary to win the team, "without even calling me."

Asked if the price came as a surprise, he joked, "We stole it from them."

"We're pretty stroked. We're all pretty excited," said Mr. Weinglass, who has said he will leave the baseball group if Baltimore receives a National Football League expansion team and his NFL ownership bid is accepted.

Although there are many decisions to be made, Mr. Angelos wasn't talking about big changes.

"I think I am in accord with the method by which this club has operated. [Orioles owner Eli Jacobs] and his associates have done a first-rate job," Mr. Angelos said.

"Certainly, there are occasions when, as a fan, you wonder, 'Why didn't we get Gary Sheffield?' Or you might say, 'We should have gotten Fred McGriff.' All fans think about how they would do it, were they in charge.

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