Some O's decisions are a family matter

July 28, 1994|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Sun Staff Writer

When he has needed help running the Orioles, Peter G. Angelos often has turned to someone he knows well, someone he trusts, someone who even looks a little like him.

His son John.

The younger Mr. Angelos, a 27-year-old law student, doesn't officially work for the team. He isn't on the payroll and doesn't show up in the Orioles offices every day.

But in the nine months since his father took over the team, John P. Angelos has been key to a number of the team's baseball and business decisions.

On the baseball side, John and his younger brother, Lou, 25, also a law student, have been influential advisers to their father, a role that has raised eyebrows among the club's veteran baseball staff, led by general manager Roland Hemond. And without the sway of John and Lou Angelos, the current Orioles roster might have a different look.

Relief ace Lee Smith was a player the sons liked a lot. Their father signed him, despite the initial reluctance of the club's baseball experts.

The sons also encouraged the signings of current Orioles Sid Fernandez and Rafael Palmeiro, a couple of the team's other free-agent pickups last winter.

If it seemed like heady stuff to be assembling the roster for the hometown team, the Angelos boys say they almost felt an obligation to butt in, particularly to find help for the Orioles bullpen.

"As time went on, I couldn't restrain myself," John Angelos says. "And why would anyone restrain themselves from having an opinion when the all-time saves leader [Mr. Smith] was out there and you don't have a closer?"

On business matters, John Angelos has made a similar impression on the Orioles.

His father asked him to assist in re-evaluating the team's policy for distributing free tickets to employees, and John helped fashion a plan that he says will save the team $70,000 this year.

That's just one of the ways that John Angelos has helped his father trim the Orioles budget. Another of his assignments is to study the club's roster of 350 to 400 game-day employees and to help determine whether that many are needed.

But if working for his father has given John Angelos some influence over the Orioles, it hasn't whetted his appetite for publicity about that role. He agreed to speak to a reporter for this article only after mulling an interview request for several weeks. And he expressed reservations about posing for a photograph.

The owner's son explains his reluctance by saying he's just helpingout his father and that any other interpretation unfairly exaggerates his position with the team.

"I don't think either Louie or I want to be thought of as thriving off what my father was able to put together," John Angelos says. "We definitely don't want to be seen as a couple of snotty, spoiled kids who're publicly discussing our roles."

But in the Orioles front office, which Peter Angelos has given a major overhaul, John Angelos is an adviser who clearly has the owner's ear.

A family business

He isn't the only family member Mr. Angelos, 65, has brought into the baseball business, though. Within a few steps of his Camden Yards office, Mr. Angelos has assembled a small family reunion.

His brother-in-law, Lou Kousouris, oversees the club's ticket operations. And the owner's wife, Georgia, sometimes works from the office and is helping to shape the club's new community relations program.

By all accounts, John and Lou Angelos are hard-core baseball fans. They devour the baseball weeklies and, until last year, had their own team -- in Rotisserie baseball.

John says he and his father, who doesn't follow players as closely, talkabout baseball moves a lot. A conversation a week isn't unusual.

But John, a fourth-year evening student at University of Baltimore Law School, plays down the significance of the father-son chats. And he seems particularly skittish when it is suggested that he and his brother are acting as full-fledged members of the Orioles' baseball staff.

"It wouldn't be accurate to say Louie or I have a role in the day-to-day baseball operation," he says.

But as advisers to their father, the Angelos brothers do have input. Peter Angelos says this only makes sense, considering their impressive knowledge of the game.

"They are not fans in the normal sense, as I am," the owner said. "They are very conversant with statistics. They have all the material. These are things they study constantly, and did long before I became involved in the purchase of the Orioles."

What might have seemed perfectly reasonable to Peter Angelos hasn't been easy to swallow for others in the front office: Mr. Hemond and his assistants, Frank Robinson and Doug Melvin.

In the first months of the Angelos regime, they questioned why they seemed to have relatively little influence over the new owner's thinkingon baseball moves. Mr. Angelos seemed to be getting advice from someone else.

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