State of O's: 80% to Marylanders Angelos group to own most of club

partnership includes black investor

August 04, 1993|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Staff Writer

Marylanders, including one of baseball's few black investors, are expected to own about 80 percent of the Orioles when partnership details are completed, the team's prospective managing partner says.

Peter G. Angelos, the local attorney leading the investors who acquired the team Monday in bankruptcy court, said the specific shares of the partnership still are being worked out.

"A lot of this was done on a handshake. It's very fluid," Mr. Angelos said.

Some of the investors -- including celebrities such as tennis star Pam Shriver and moviemaker Barry Levinson -- will have relatively small shares in the team. Novelist Tom Clancy, however, will be a major player.

Mr. Angelos merged his group with rival bidders led by Cincinnati businessman William O. DeWitt Jr. just before the auction. Current team owner Eli S. Jacobs is in bankruptcy.

The investment group Mr. Angelos formed will own about 80 percent of the team, with him owning about 50 percent, Mr. Angelos said. The DeWitt investors will have about 20 percent, with Mr. DeWitt overseeing baseball operations, he said.

As managing partner, Mr. Angelos will have control over the team and be its largest single shareholder, he said.

Mr. Clancy, the Maryland-based author, will be the second-largest shareholder, Mr. Angelos said. The novelist also will head up public affairs and special projects for the team, he said.

Mr. Clancy declined to specify the amount of his investment, other than to say: "It's an awful lot of money. It's going to be the biggest check I've ever written.

"We're going to have to sell Park Place and Boardwalk."

Among the Angelos investors is Roger R. Blunt, a Rhode Island native and longtime Bethesda resident who will become one of the small number of black owners in sports. Baseball officials say there are no black majority team owners, but that a few teams, including the Texas Rangers, are believed to have black investors.

Mr. Blunt is chairman of the Oxon Hill-based Essex Construction Corp. and vice chair of the University of Maryland Board of Regents. He is a retired Army major general, serving most recently as the commander of the 97th Army Reserve Command at Fort Meade.

"There aren't very many African-Americans involved in the ownership of major-league sports franchises, and when an opportunity comes up like that, you rise up to it," he said.

"I will be in a position to help it move into the 20th century."

He commended Jean S. Fugett Jr., chairman of TLC Beatrice International Holdings, who attended the bankruptcy auction, but ended up not bidding on the team. Mr. Fugett, a former Baltimore lawyer and NFL player, would have been the first black majority owner in baseball.

"That would have been wonderful, too. But progress is made in little steps," Mr. Blunt said.

Mr. Angelos said he does not know what share Mr. Blunt would own, but said he would ask him to serve on the team's executive committee. Mr. Blunt termed his investment "substantial."

Many investors were being contacted yesterday to adjust their percentage shares to accommodate the DeWitt merger and the $173 million price, which surprised even Mr. Angelos. A list of owners should be available at the beginning of next week, Mr. Angelos said.

"All of the owners will be treated evenly, fairly and with all due respect," Mr. Angelos said.

The partnership agreement will guarantee Maryland-based control even after his death, Mr. Angelos said. "There is no provision for the DeWitt group to become controlling owners, nor do I think they want that," Mr. Angelos said.

Local real-estate developer Wayne R. Gioioso Sr., a member of the Angelos group, said: "A million people want to get involved now. They are crawling out of the woodwork."

Mr. DeWitt said yesterday that no members of his investment group have dropped out, though he added that he hasn't been able to contact all of the investors. Among the local figures in that group are financier Harvey "Bud" Meyerhoff and retired insurance company executive Leslie Disharoon.

Both were out of town and unavailable yesterday.

"Given where the bidding went, to be honest, we would have been a long shot to buy the team," Mr. DeWitt said.

"It required a broader investment group to get to that point."

A small ownership stake in Mr. DeWitt's group sponsored by the Baltimore-based investment house Alex. Brown & Sons represents "a conduit for individual employee investors," a spokeswoman said.

A T. Rowe Price spokeswoman said she was unable to learn if two of its executives, Jim Riepe and John Laporte, remain with the investment group. They had signed up with Mr. DeWitt before the bidding.

Ms. Shriver, a Baltimore-area native, recalled a childhood steeped in Orioles fever and said she's going forward with her investment.

"I've been successful, but I'm not making enough to pay $173 million. I suspect my share will be very small," she said. "It will be interesting to see the inner workings of another sport."

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