local interests,” he said. “If I can help produce that result – if the DeWitt group withdrew – I’d be willing to make my contribution.”
By March 31, Angelos informed the newspaper that he was in the game. “We have every intention of making contact with all parties and advising them there is a local group ready, able and willing to purchase the team,” he said.
Mercantile Bank was holding a large portion of Jacobs’ debt in Baltimore on the Orioles. He was on the hook for $47.5 million to the local bank and there was a belief on the part of one of Angelos’ partners that they’d be the ones who picked the winning bid. Local businessman Henry Knott, who was a key part of the Angelos team assembled to make a run at the Orioles in bankruptcy, openly fumed about the nature of local vs. out-of-town buyers for the club.
“My opinion of Mercantile is that they have a license to do business in Baltimore City,” Knott told The Sun. “And if they pick an out-of-town owner over us, somebody ought to lock them up, throw away the key and put them out of business.”
Angelos continued to drive home his message regarding being “the hometown guy” vs. positioning DeWitt’s offer as being from “out of town.” All along, Angelos believed his tenacity was going to find a way to gain control of the Orioles. And he believed he’d be perceived as a civic hero if somehow he managed to win the bid and “save” the Orioles from the indignity of “out of town” ownership.
His first call in March was to his friend and partner at the law firm of Piper & Marbury, George P. Stamas, who offered to help him put together a team of investors with some civic clout and most importantly, some funding to flesh out an ownership group that would capture the attention of Major League Baseball and reflect well upon the league.
Angelos literally didn’t know anyone within Major League Baseball so he needed to make noise in other ways.
Angelos and Stamas, along with Knott, cast a wide net over the next 90 days, pulling in local celebrities and dignitaries with an offer for a stake in owning the Baltimore Orioles. Author Tom Clancy, comic book distributor Stephen A. Geppi, movie producer Barry Levinson, legendary broadcaster Jim McKay and tennis star Pam Shriver were all recruited and excited to lend their names and stars to the involvement in bringing the Orioles to a local investment team.
Angelos told The Sun, “It really gives what we attempted to do and hopefully what we’re striving to do a lot of color. It gives you a little taste of what this area has produced – some really exceptional people.”
As Angelos circled the wagons, DeWitt heard the very public preening by Angelos, who had a hotline to The Sun during these years. He could get a headline and a story written any time he wanted with one phone call over to his friends on Calvert Street. Longtime Baltimore columnists Michael Olesker and John Steadman, both who came from the now defunct afternoon newspaper, The News American, kept company with a man who insisted his friends call him “Pete.”
DeWitt started making Baltimore calls and putting together a “hometown team” of his own with the many relationships that team president and C.E.O. Larry Lucchino had developed over the 14 years he’d run the club quite successfully.
While Lucchino saw the theatre and politicking that Angelos was attempting to do in the court of public opinion – everyone knew it was all about the highest bidder at this point, not a popularity poll – he thought it to be an odd juxtaposition against the marketplace.
First of all, the Baltimore Orioles weren’t going anywhere. They had a 30-year lease at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the only reason any sane businessman would want to purchase the team for upwards of $150 million was because of what Lucchino had built the team into during his watch. No one was apt to buy the Orioles in an effort to wreck them or move them or alienate local baseball fans.
And, secondly, if Lucchino harbored any secret intentions to depart Baltimore or sell the team off to someone who would’ve moved the team, it would’ve already have happened on his watch. It was ludicrous when you consider Lucchino’s track record. He had spent the past dozen years getting Camden Yards built and building the