The Peter Principles (Ch. 2): The error of tyranny at Camden Yards

March 30, 2014 | Nestor Aparicio

The Peter Principles (Ch. 2): The error of tyranny at Camden Yards

Four ring (he played at Princton with Bill Bradley in 1965), a Super Bowl ring (Redskins 1983), and four World Series rings (three in Boston plus Orioles in 1983). Lucchino also beat cancer – twice!

Bill DeWitt was never really a factor or had any influence as an owner of the Baltimore Orioles. He sold his stock in early 1995 when he purchased the St. Louis Cardinals for $150 million. The Cardinals have won two World Series (2006 and 2011), four National League pennants, and eight division titles, and have made 11 total playoff appearances since 1996.

DeWitt’s primary partner in trying to buy the Orioles, Bob Castellini, eventually bought his hometown team, the Cincinnati Reds, in January 2006.

All three men have never looked back and have never publicly discussed the split with Angelos other than to call it “a misunderstanding.”

 

 

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IN THE BEGINNING, PETER G. Angelos loved the microphone, loved being the Orioles owner and the center of attention for the affections of the Baltimore everyman. His many quotes that began the era of his ownership show a man who desperately wanted to be a hero – loved and respected by all.

And a hero he was. At least for a little while, he was.

If there were ever a year of moving and shaking and becoming “the mayor” of Baltimore for Peter G. Angelos, 1994 would be that year. The year produced the fruit from his hard-fought life in the trenches of legal battle. Angelos had everything he’d ever dreamed of – wealth, a new toy, a fresh fight, an influential voice, and plenty of “attaboys” from everyone he ever wanted to impress. In the beginning of his reign as Baltimore Orioles owner – or “managing partner” as he liked to say – Angelos got more than his 15 minutes as a “hero.” He was considered a modern day Robin Hood, a local fighter for social justice, provincial issues, a generous, community leader and a civic-minded baseball owner who made it known that he would put the fans first.

After the 1993 season ended and he took full control, Angelos wasted no time in getting involved in virtually every aspect of owning the Orioles but was never seen much by what was left of the rank and file employees he inherited from Lucchino’s administration at what had become known simply as The Warehouse, the giant red brick façade that stretches what feels like the length of Baltimore as you enter the city from the Interstate 95 artery on I-395. The Warehouse housed the front office of the team where all team business was conducted. (Until he moved an office into The Warehouse in late 2013, Angelos had an office in the structure for just six months during the 1994 season.)

In Angelos’ mind, the first order of business was done: the team was held and controlled by a local owner. Banker Joe Foss was put in control of the business of the Orioles and many executives cleaned out their desks at The Warehouse during the holidays realizing the new owners wanted all of their own people inside the franchise.

Angelos’ next goal was clear: get better players so the Orioles could finally vanquish the rival Toronto Blue Jays, who had experienced a magical surge of success with a new downtown stadium and mall called Skydome, built in 1989.  The Jays had been very competitive since 1985 when the team found some magic in homegrown players and signed some quality free agents that a packed new dome could fund in an effort to win. Led by the vision and guile of general manager Pat Gillick, the Blue Jays always seemed to have the Orioles’ number.

Strangely, at this point in baseball history, the vaunted New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were also-rans virtually every year with a smaller playoff pool of just two American League teams. Both Boston and New York were renowned as teams that foolishly allocated their money and had poor minor league systems but large fan bases.

But make no mistake – it was the Blue Jays who were Public Enemy No. 1 in Baltimore. The Orioles were beaten at the finish line in the miraculous 1989 “Why Not?” season at Skydome, and the Toronto had won just won back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

Angelos wanted to make sure 1994 was a year that the Baltimore Orioles were playing into October.

Local fans were tired of the team’s thrifty ways under Jacobs, which despite the extra wave of support that came with the opening of Camden Yards in 1992, never produced big free agent signings. The team had a nice compliment of young players in Mike Mussina, Ben McDonald and Brady Anderson while having a Hall of Famer and veteran leader in Cal Ripken plus the remnants of what his father knew and Earl Weaver taught as “The Oriole Way,” which indicated good fundamental baseball skills and sound decision-making and strategy.

The Orioles spent liberally right away under Angelos, who wanted to win and continue to build his case as local civic hero. First baseman Rafael Palmeiro signed a 5-year, $30 million deal in December. Veteran closer Lee Smith, starting lefthander Sid Fernandez, and third baseman Chris Sabo were all inked to deals. They also inked their upstart matinee idol outfield star Brady

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5 Comments For This Post

  1. justafan Says:

    My problem with the Orioles is that they withhold opening day tickets from the average fan as an incentive to sell their various season ticket plans. As a result, fans who cannot afford a season ticket plan cannot get opening day tickets. This really ticks me off because I was able to get a ticket to the Nationals opening game without a hassle. The Orioles treat their average fans like a piece of excrement.

  2. justafan Says:

    Fortunately, I was able to get a ticket to the opening game on line yesterday. A good seat too! Section 328 in the lower boxes.

  3. Eddie Says:

    Imagine that , a successful business lasting a hundred years , run by all white wealthy males , anyone surprised by that ? I guess The Nationl Football League would fall into that catagory too . I wonder what we’d be watching for sports entertainment if it weren’t for those white rich guys , I shudder to think .

  4. RJ Says:

    Nestor,
    It intrigues me that you can forgive the Irsays for moving the Colts OUT of Baltimore, yet hammer Angelos continuously, even though the Os STILL remain in Baltimore…..certainly, I will never understand this dichotomy in thinking on your part. Sometimes I think you just want Angelos to give you some sort of recognition, which he will never do, nor should do given your incessant rants. But if it makes you feel better, go for it!

  5. jay Says:

    Eddie – Killer racist comment, but professional sports league have a league monopoly and enjoy quite a few benefits that most businesses do not, thus they have no competition that can operate with the same profit margins. Why don’t you shut the hell up before you go spouting of quasi-racist sentiments whilst having little to no idea what you are talking about, ok? THANKS!

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