Angelos won't collect Rookie of Year award

September 26, 1994|By JOHN STEADMAN

It has been an eventful, yet tough, rookie year for Peter Angelos:

He admitted in a Washington Post interview (one he would prefer to forget) of lacking knowledge of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, which caused embarrassment -- considering a man could grow up to own a major-league team and not be aware of its rich, historic past.

In Angelos' freshman year, the World Series was eliminated for the first time, causing the Baltimore Orioles to pack up their equipment and go home. Instead of the team being on course for a projected $10 million profit, the money, thanks to players and club owners going on strike against each other, wasn't going to be generated.

Then the pope, scheduled for an appearance in the Orioles' ballpark, which had never happened before, called in sick and the visit is postponed for a year. Angelos lost out on any chance of hosting a World Series, a financial bonanza, and also a prestigious visit from the pope, which promised a spiritual dividend for those of all faiths and would have been especially noteworthy for one of the largest Catholic communities in America.

Such a turn of events tells Angelos how tenuous schedule-making can be.

Now Peter has to be concerned if the public relations fallout from the baseball strike is going to result in ticket-buyers staying away next season. Or will the absence, as in love, make the heart grow fonder?

Angelos, after gaining control of the Orioles a year ago by bidding $173 million, put up $46 million of his own money and added another $20 million from author Tom Clancy. They are the lead investors among a roster of 20 Marylanders, with a bank also guaranteeing a portion of the record price.

The front office of the Orioles, which once was top-heavy with seven vice presidents from the previous administration, stripped away the titles and then handed most of them outright releases. That caused their families and friends considerable torment and gave reason for them to wonder if Angelos was going to be as good for Baltimore as anticipated.

The owner's two sons, by dint of impressions gained from Rotisserie League play, made suggestions to the Orioles on player acquisitions. This put them in position of imposing their intentions on such professional talent appraisers as general manager Roland Hemond and farm director Doug Melvin. Those men have spent their lives in baseball and know what they're doing.

There is a difference. In Rotisserie, defense is given little or no importance.

But Angelos has proven he's "hands on" all the way. We didn't think he would be the second coming of Branch Rickey but hoped he might eventually gain the status of the much-beloved Tom Yawkey.

When the Orioles made a pitch to hire John Schuerholz, the Atlanta Braves general manager, a year ago, he frankly wondered why there was such a strong desire on the part of Angelos to bring him to Baltimore since he already had the highly competent Hemond calling the shots.

Now, it's reported a new general manager, Frank Robinson, is coming in and that Hemond is going to be moved to a different position -- something like assistant to Angelos. No doubt, Angelos is aware of the respect for Hemond among the working craft of baseball people or else he also might be going out the door.

The Angelos star, which sparkled so brightly when he gained control of the Orioles, is still being viewed with rose-colored glasses. However, reaction isn't as positive as when he arrived on the scene only a year ago. Angelos' strongest supporters are aware of his interest and pride in his adopted city of Baltimore.

However, from another viewpoint, three general managers who built World Series winners talked to a reporter in the past week and inquired about the Orioles. They don't like what they are seeing, hearing and reading. Their earlier enthusiasm for Angelos is moderating but, in all probability, he doesn't care.

A reference by Bill Madden, of the New York Daily News, says the Orioles' Melvin, now being interviewed as a possible general manager of the Texas Rangers, "fell victim to meddling owner Peter Angelos and his equally meddling son, John. Among other things, the younger Angelos wanted credit for the signing of Lee Smith, which the media had given to Melvin."

Too bad. If such pettiness is true, the Orioles are in trouble. When members of an organization start to wonder where credit is going to go, it bodes problems for the future and damages a team concept, which is more important in the front office than it is on the field.

Angelos, still a freshman in the baseball business, hasn't scored the popularity points he deserves for buying the Orioles because of what has transpired under his still-brief regime and the way he unfortunately announced disenchantment with manager Johnny Oates.

Don't expect it to happen, but Angelos would do well for the franchise by keeping Hemond and Oates in place.

The fact he didn't hire either should not militate against retaining them in their present capacities. But Angelos, in the main, doesn't listen, so it's not anticipated he'll adhere to suggestions, as well intended as they may be.

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