Angelos leads Baltimore posse west

May 16, 1994|By John Steadman

It was difficult to determine if Peter Angelos was Sir Lancelot or Lash LaRue. Anyhow, Angelos saddled up a trusty charger, one of those he pays to bed and board in royal comfort at the race track, and, with hoofbeats pounding, roared off in a cloud of dust.

This was the stereotyped opening to the kind of Western film he used to watch Saturday mornings at the neighborhood movie. Only this time, he was up on the screen. The star of the show. Playing himself.

In staying with the script, he was traveling in a westerly direction. Reported destination: Los Angeles, where there's a football team he would like to bring to Baltimore.

Mentioned, but not confirmed, as possible accomplices in this "holy grail" patrol to the City of Angels were two outriders. One was an advance scout, Larry Lucchino, who is diligently trying to set up the deal. The other, a loyal compadre, George Stamas, was alert to any possible entrapments since they dare not get cut off at the pass, say in St. Louis or Memphis.

The Baltimore posse, interested in making a winning impression, looked handsome in its new spangled cowboy suits, pointed boots and jangling spurs, while carrying lariats to rope the Rams and bring them back to the crab flats of the Chesapeake. Then the Rams, free of Los Angeles after being well-treated there for almost 50 years, could enjoy a mercenary windfall amounting to millions of fresh Baltimore dollars and perhaps zillions in the future.

The Baltimore suitors intended to make eyes at the gorgeous princess, one Georgia Frontiere, who wears a golden slipper and is owner of the first major-league franchise, historically speaking, that ever opened for business in Los Angeles, the aforementioned Rams.

There are men in St. Louis and Memphis with ambitions similar to Angelos. They want to turn on the charm and convince Georgia they also have much to offer in securing her financial future in football. That she's a St. Louis native is correct but, in itself, that isn't going to score any points when it comes to a final decision on where the Rams play.

In case you haven't heard, Angelos is the majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles. Now, he's motivated to do something he deems additionally worthwhile for his hometown -- meaning present it with a football franchise.

No doubt, Angelos has only good in mind for his fellow citizens. And the governor would like it, too, because then he might be able to sponsor Angelos to run for the office he will be vacating at the end of his second term and thus be able to crown himself as a king-maker.

However, there is serious doubt, following what happened once before, if being involved in sports will provide entree to the State House. In 1954, when the Orioles restored Baltimore to the American League after a wait of 51 years in the minors, the name of Orioles president Clarence Miles was projected as a possible candidate for U.S. senator. Miles was attracted to the idea.

But the correlation, or coronation, of Clarence never took place. Miles wasn't able to utilize his role as head of the Orioles as an entree to high office.

Angelos two months ago told a reporter he didn't want to be governor. Has his attitude changed? Will Schaefer convince him to enter and thereby throw himself, along with his baseball cap and football helmet, into the political ring?

Angelos, extremely popular, has taken an unusual stand against the Baltimore CFL Colts. He didn't want them employing the same stadium concession company as the Orioles. Pressure was applied and the would-be hot dog sellers backed away. They didn't want to displease Angelos, who provides them with exclusivity in Camden Yards.

Angelos' reasoning that it would detract from the quality of service Orioles fans receive was dubious at best, since the baseball team is on the road when the CFL Colts play at home. Economically, it meant 10 pay nights for the work force if ARA had been permitted to handle football at Memorial Stadium, but Angelos stood firm.

Meanwhile, in another area, Angelos has drawn the wrath of Howard Pete Rawlings, chairman of the African-American Task Force on Professional Sports in Maryland. Rawlings, in a page one story in the Baltimore Afro-American, quoted Angelos as saying he has been "too busy" to meet his group. Rawlings wants to discuss an agreement the previous Orioles owners signed regarding business and community activities involving African-Americans.

But give Angelos a chance. Rawlings will find him receptive since it was Angelos, while a city councilman in 1960, who introduced the first equal accommodations law in Baltimore. He has always been a man of the people.

Angelos, right now, deserves time for himself. He needs to jump down off his horse, let the dust settle and look in the mirror to see if he's Sir Lancelot or Lash LaRue.

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