Now it gets tough: Sprawling partnership must come together to run team THE DEAL FOR THE ORIOLES

August 08, 1993|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer

Now comes the hard part for Peter G. Angelos, whose group still must be approved by Major League Baseball owners. Starting next month, he'll be running the Orioles.

As general partner, Mr. Angelos will be making final decisions affecting everything from player trades to whether "Baltimore" returns to the team's road uniforms. But the team's limited partners, who could number as many as 30, also will have a say.

Imagine writer Tom Clancy, film maker Barry Levinson and tennis star Pam Shriver debating a blockbuster trade around a boardroom table. Actually, not all partners will have decision-making roles. That authority apparently will be reserved for those serving on the team's executive committee. Mr. Angelos, as the managing partner, will be the final arbiter.

While others may expect squabbles, Mr. Angelos says he has no worries. "I think the personalities are diverse, and that's what makes it so interesting," Mr. Angelos said. "Some people think [the number of owners] will cause problems, but I don't see it that way."

Compared with past Orioles investors, the new group of owners is exceedingly large. Eli S. Jacobs, who owned 87 percent of the Orioles, had only two partners, team president Larry Lucchino (9 percent) and former Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver (4 percent). During his nine years with the Orioles, Washington lawyer Edward Bennett Williams was the sole owner.

By the standards of Major League Baseball, however, the incoming group of Orioles owners isn't that large. A number of teams are controlled by limited partnerships similar to the one forming in Baltimore, and a few have a comparable number of investors.

The New York Yankees are run by principal owner George Steinbrenner and 23 limited partners. The Texas Rangers ownership group is said to include more than 30 partners, including four investors who will be selling their shares to buy into the Orioles.

It may be weeks before Mr. Angelos has an exact count of how many investors are in his group. Although some decisions have been made, the investors haven't finalized the partnership agreement that spells out how the Orioles will be run. One decision that has been made: Partners who want to leave the group must offer their shares to the team's stockholders before selling elsewhere.

The ultimate success of the partnership rests with Mr. Angelos. "The important thing is who is the managing partner and the strength of that individual. Not all partnerships operate smoothly. It's not due to structure, it's due to people," said Tal Smith, a private consultant to a number of major-league teams who helped prepare a financial analysis of the Orioles for Mr. Angelos.

And for now, the new owners seem content to leave their hard-won prize in the hands of the man who delivered it to them.

"I'm delighted to have him in charge," said partner Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass. "Peter's the man."

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