Greece is site of Angelos' next field trip

Owner to help country's Olympic baseball start-up

September 02, 1999|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

Orioles owner Peter Angelos will make his third international expedition of the year tomorrow, traveling to Greece to meet with Olympic officials who have requested assistance from the Orioles in the development of a national baseball program.

The city of Athens is host to the 2004 Summer Olympics, so Greece will be required to field a team to take part in the baseball competition. Angelos offered last year to aid in the creation of a Greek national team and has offered assistance in the planning and construction of a "mini-Camden Yards" to hold the Olympic baseball competition.

"There have been some discussions between my father and Greek officials," Orioles executive vice president John Angelos said yesterday. "As host country in the Olympics, they have to field a team for every event and have no experience in baseball and asked for our help."

The traveling party is expected to include Peter Angelos and his wife, Georgia, their sons, Lou and John, trip organizer Tom Marudas and Orioles player personnel director Syd Thrift.

The itinerary for the trip has not been announced, but the Orioles party will spend five days in Greece conferring with sports officials and, presumably, getting acquainted with the challenge of fielding a baseball team in a country unfamiliar with the sport.

It will be a different challenge from the one that Angelos undertook earlier this year, when he traveled twice to Cuba to arrange and attend the goodwill exhibition series between the Orioles and a team of Cuban all-stars.

The Cuban overture was fraught with potential political pitfalls, most of them based on the long history of animosity between the two countries.

The exhibition games were hugely controversial, prompting protest demonstrations outside the Orioles' spring training facility in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and at Oriole Park.

The Orioles won the game in Cuba, but lost a one-sided game at Camden Yards that took some of the luster off Angelos' overture.

There will be no such risks this time. The Orioles face little potential downside from their offer to help build a baseball bridge to the homeland of Angelos' Greek ancestors. The club figures to act largely in a consulting capacity, eventually sending a group of Orioles minor-league coaches and instructors to help in the formation of the Greek national team.

"They contacted us to talk about everything from playing fields to developing interest in the game to putting together the team," said Orioles vice chairman Joe Foss, who will not be making the trip.

"I think it's more than getting acquainted. Peter knows a lot of prominent Greek officials. I think it's principally to try to get things started for them."

Pub Date: 9/02/99

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