Angelos, black task force at odds over input

May 21, 1994|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Sun Staff Writer

Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos said yesterday that he's ready to meet with members of a black task force seeking input into the team's policies, but said he won't allow club actions to be monitored by them.

"There's nothing wrong with the Orioles. There's no discrimination practiced against anyone," Angelos said. "Nevertheless, in my capacity as head of the Orioles organization, I am ready, willing and able to meet with any FTC member of the community to discuss matters of concern."

Angelos' comments came in response to complaints lodged against him last week by Del. Howard P. Rawlings, D-Baltimore, chairman of the African American Task Force on Professional Sports.

Rawlings led a group of task force members that reached agreement last year on a plan to work with team officials on an effort to boost attendance by black fans at Oriole Park and to increase the club's business dealings with black-owned companies.

Those agreements were completed last July, before the Orioles were sold to an investors group led by Angelos.

The new owner, who said he does not believe the Orioles have a binding agreement with the group, had a meeting with task force members last October, but hasn't met with the group since, though Rawlings says he has attempted repeatedly to contact the owner.

Recently, Rawlings wrote to task force members advising them of his problems reaching Angelos. In the letter, published in the Afro-American, Rawlings compared Angelos' actions to a 19th-century Supreme Court decision denying rights to blacks, and he noted that Angelos and the Orioles were acting "as if they do not need to honor a legitimate agreement" between the club and the group.

Yesterday, Rawlings accused Angelos of breaking many promises made by Orioles officials last year, including a pledge to meet with task force members three times each year -- before the season, midseason and after the last game -- to discuss progress made by the team in reaching out to members of minorities.

"We negotiated a very significant agreement with the Orioles. It was nationally hailed," Rawlings said. "Peter Angelos, by his actions, has voided the agreement."

Anne Emery, a task force member, said the Orioles' actions have left her troubled.

"I think there has been a breach of faith in what was expected to be a bond between the Orioles and the African American community," she said.

Angelos said that when he met with the task force last fall, he described some initiatives planned by the club, including a children's pavilion. Seats in the section would be given away to school kids, including inner-city youth, Angelos said.

"That didn't seem to interest [Rawlings] too much," the owner said.

Angelos also complained about Rawlings' letter to task force members, which he called "insulting" and "high-handed."

"The Orioles will not be coerced, threatened or insulted as I was insulted by Rawlings in the [letter]. Let me tell him publicly he owes me an apology," the owner said.

Rawlings said task force leaders had not yet decided on a next step, but might take action against the club to protest their treatment. He declined to say what might be considered, but said a boycott of the Orioles isn't a consideration because so few blacks attend games at Camden Yards.

"That would be a big joke," Rawlings said. "Peter Angelos would hardly notice."

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