The Peter Principles (Ch. 1): So, just how did Angelos become ‘King’ of Baltimore baseball?

March 19, 2014 | Nestor Aparicio

The Peter Principles (Ch. 1): So, just how did Angelos become ‘King’ of Baltimore baseball?

remembered but life didn’t take him on that pathway. Instead, 25 years later, he’d become wealthy and mostly anonymous.

He was in that steamy courtroom on that August day in 1993 to change that. Most people in Baltimore had no idea who Peter G. Angelos was on that day.

If he could win this bid and bring home a local ownership team to Baltimore, he’d be revered forever as a champion of the people and a modern day hero in his adopted hometown.

At least that’s what he thought.

 

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THE SELLER OF THE BALTIMORE Orioles, Eli Jacobs, wasn’t broken-hearted to be selling the baseball team. He was much closer to “broke” than broken-hearted.

Before his bankruptcy case, Jacobs told Tony Kornheiser of The Washington Post in June 1991 that he didn’t like owning a MLB team as much as he thought he would. “I’d prefer that I live a normal, ordinary life.” Described as introverted and doggedly shy, Jacobs put the team on the market for $200 million as the Orioles wound down their time at Memorial Stadium. Jacobs paid just $70 million for the team less than three years earlier.

Jacobs thought the team merited a $130 million appreciation as Camden Yards opened its doors in April 1992. He was at the right place at the right time in buying – and then trying to flip – the Baltimore Orioles.

While continually denying any financial pressure, his price lowered to $160 million by the fall of 1992, when his empire was privately crumbling. By December, he was reportedly negotiating exclusively with William DeWitt, Jr., a baseball family insider and Cincinnati oil executive, who owned a small piece of the Texas Rangers with soon-to-be President George W. Bush. The price was in the $150 million range. DeWitt, through his connections with new commissioner Bud Selig was thought to be “pre-approved” for ownership given his reputation and family legacy in the sport.

At the time, there were only two comparable sales of any sports franchise in North America: the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys fetched $140 million from oil tycoon Jerry Jones in February 1989 and the MLB Seattle Mariners sold for a then-thought-to-be-outlandish $125 million in February 1992.

Jacobs bought the team on Dec. 6, 1989, from the estate of Washington-based attorney Edward Bennett Williams, who died in the summer of 1988 after inking a long-term deal with then-Governor William Donald Schaefer to keep the Orioles in Baltimore and move them into a new downtown ballpark that would become Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Jacobs was a junk bond man from Wall Street in the 1980s. A Red Sox fan by birth, Jacobs bought the Orioles because he could afford to do it and because it allowed him to enter rooms with presidents, the Queen of England and various business leaders and politicians. Plus, it was right on the train between Washington and New York and he could wield some political clout with his Republican friends by owning a Major League Baseball team.

He also thought it was a pretty sound investment.

And he was right.

More than any other Major League Baseball team, the Orioles were swimming in profit. In 1990, they had $2.1 million in profit. In 1991, it increased to $7 million with big sales for the final season at Memorial Stadium. And in 1992 at the shiny new publicly financed palace, which was the centerpiece of a downtown urban renaissance for Baltimore, the Orioles made $28 million in profit while drawing 3.8 million fans to the Inner Harbor for baseball.

The Baltimore Orioles franchise was the gem of baseball and a civic treasure in 1992 when Camden Yards opened its doors. If you were anybody in Baltimore – or even around the D.C. Beltway and straight onto Capital Hill – an Orioles game on a summer night was the place to be in the Mid-Atlantic region. At this point in his career, just seeing Cal Ripken Jr. play baseball was thought to be something you’d be telling your grandkids about for years to come.

Jacobs was in the right spot at the right time with the Orioles. He was in charge of a soft underbelly of the Orioles existence. Fans had high expectations because the community was fresh off

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6 Comments For This Post

  1. Franchise Says:

    Nestor-

    Is the “stranger” bidder you refer to in this blog the same Jeffrey Loria (spelling Lorie) who is currently the principal owner of the Philadelphia Eagles????? or the previous owner of the Florida Marlins???

    Thanks,

    Franchise

  2. Franchise Says:

    Nestor-

    Just retribution punishment for the son of the “Chicagoan Carpetbagger” father Robert Irsay would be for Jimmy Irsay to give back all the records, history and HOF induction of 11 BALTIMORE Colt players and coaches back to the Charm City…. That includes all of the media guide propaganda in Indianapolis as well as the Canton, OH sacrilegious nonsense at the Pro Football Hall of Fame….Plus give back the horseshoe and the blue and white colors and name Colts to the City of Baltimore…Roger Goodell are you listening???…This is just punishment for Jimmy Irsay since owners should be held to higher standards….The apple does not fall far from the tree… Robert & Jimmy Irsay are one in the same…absolute garbage….But the Commissioner will simply slap him on the wrist!!!…Jimmy Irsay tried to ransom Art Modell for $44Million for the marketing rites to OUR Baltimore Colts….Voluntarily checked himself into what REHAB clinic?

    Regards,

    FRANCHISE

    Franchise

  3. unitastoberry Says:

    Franchise in the last few days I have heard many taking up for Jimmy. I had nothing against him until he was offered a sizeable amount of money to make things right and return the name to Baltimore. This was before Manning arrived to rescue the Irsays. After he turned that offer down he became garbage in my mind just like his daddy. His genes finally caught up with him and I’m glad he didn’t kill anyone driving around wasted. Sorry no sympathy for him.

  4. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    Irsay, a A-HOLE just like his dad, wishing the worse for him !!!

  5. charlie Says:

    another important triumph in baltimore sports history, for wnst and nestor. THANKS.

  6. Go Tigers Fan Says:

    Steve from Sandpoint, you may want to check your wishes. What you wish for Irsay, someone could wish the same for YOU.

    The Colts are gone, get over it. You have the Ravens now so the past is past, the present is present.

    Robert Short stole the Senators from me so what did I do? I chose to root for the next closest team to P.G County where I lived at the time. That team I chose was the Orioles and no I don’t give a darn about the Nationals.

    My advice to you – live for the present, not the past.

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