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Peter Angelos remains a powerful paradox

At 81, the Orioles owner is busy adding to his complicated legacy

October 02, 2010|By Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

Anderson got to know Angelos when they negotiated a new contract for the outfielder in 1997. More than dollar debates or talk about the team, he remembers Angelos' sweeping discourses on America's decline as an industrial nation. "He's just a really interesting guy to talk to," Anderson says. "People who don't know him are missing out. He's an interesting combination of an intellectual and a street guy."

Anderson says that in his era, players admired Angelos both for his stands on labor issues and his willingness to pay for stars such as Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar.

"What I love about him is he's willing to take a stand, even if it hurts him," Anderson says. "He won't compromise his beliefs. He just won't."

What lies ahead

For years, fans and analysts looking at the future of the club have wondered if Angelos might consider selling.

Baseball executives say a sale would make little financial sense given the tax hit Angelos would face after taking years of substantial write-offs afforded to team owners. He could will the team to Georgia, his wife of 44 years, and if she outlives him she would inherit it without having to pay tax on the appreciated value (probably at least $360 million).

Of Angelos' two sons, John has been far more involved in running the Orioles, despite his absence this year. The younger son, Lou, practices law at Angelos' firm. Several sources familiar with the family say John Angelos is underestimated — a bright man who became a serious student of the cable business during the MASN launch and proved an effective negotiator during the club's search for a new spring training home.

But John Angelos has shown little interest in being a public figure, and some former club executives wonder if he would knowingly take on the public scrutiny that goes with running a baseball team.

Though the option hasn't been widely discussed in public, Angelos or his heirs could sell the team but hold onto MASN, the more profitable and valuable of the two properties. They might attract fewer bidders if they offered the club but not the network, says John Moag, whose Baltimore-based investment banking firm specializes in sports transactions. Moag says the two properties combined would probably sell for $1 billion or more.

In the near term, no one expects Angelos to explore selling. Longtime associates say he would be going against his nature if he did so. Angelos made his fortune by refusing to give in, they say, and he wants to be the one to find a winning formula for his highest profile property.

"My belief," MacPhail says, "is that what he really wants is to turn it around and get us back in the playoffs."

childs.walker@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

Peter Angelos timeline

1992- Angelos wins asbestos settlements totaling more than $1 billion

1993- Angelos-led group buys the Orioles at auction for then-record $173 million

1994 – Angelos wins adulation for standing against owners' talk of using replacement players during strike

1996 – Angelos blocks trades of Bobby Bonilla and David Wells, who then help Orioles to postseason

1997 – Orioles go to second straight postseason and post last winning season of Angelos tenure

1998 – Pat Gillick, architect of the two playoff teams, walks away at the end of his contract

1999 –Frank Wren resigns after less than a year as top baseball executive and says Orioles will never win consistently under Angelos

2005 – Angelos reaches compensation deal with MLB that gives him dominant stake in regional network that broadcasts both Orioles and Nationals games

2007 – Angelos hires Andy MacPhail, his seventh top baseball executive in a decade

2010 – Orioles get off to worst start under Angelos but post winning record for his latest managerial pick, Buck Showalter

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