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

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

Posted on 19 March 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

IT WAS HOT AS HADES in that lower Manhattan federal courtroom. Jam-packed with bidders, curiosity seekers and baseball fans, the Baltimore Orioles franchise was up for grabs on August 2, 1993, and the bidding was as steamy as the air in the room once the price began to rapidly accelerate into the stratosphere.

The fact that there was any bidding at all was somewhat surprising to Peter G. Angelos, a Baltimore attorney who had begun a power play five months earlier to purchase the Major League Baseball franchise that was being sold off via an auction nearly 200 miles away from its home on the Chesapeake Bay. In the hours leading up to the auction, Angelos managed to turn his sole competitor from a previous suspended bid for the team during June into a partner. William DeWitt Jr., a Cincinnati native whose father once owned the St. Louis Browns in the 1940s and a minority investor in the Texas Rangers, joined Angelos’ celebrity-led local group from Maryland just hours before the bidding was to begin in the sweltering Custom House. DeWitt was promised a role in the operations and management of the club.

It was an amazing coup for Angelos to pull DeWitt from being a worthy, legitimate competitor into a teammate that morning, after convincing him that he’d be involved and an influential part of the eventual winning group. It was shocking that DeWitt had pulled out because several times over the previous eight months, he was convinced that he was already the winning bidder and new owner of the Orioles.

In February 1993, after six months of lengthy, arduous negotiations on a fair price, DeWitt had entered into a deal with Orioles majority owner Eli Jacobs to buy the team for $141.3 million. Jacobs, who was in his final days of semi-liquidity and quietly on the verge of bankruptcy, didn’t have the legal authority to close the deal with DeWitt once the banks seized his assets in March. Instead, the Orioles wound up at auction five months later and suddenly Angelos – with DeWitt now shockingly a member of his ownership team – believed he would emerge victorious without breaking a sweat in the summer heat of The Big Apple.

But that afternoon, after entering the courtroom in what he believed would be a rubber-stamped win, instead he found himself embroiled in a bidding war with a stranger he never strongly considered to being a worthy foil in the fray.

Jeffrey Loria, a New York art dealer and Triple-A baseball team owner, wanted badly to be a Major League Baseball owner. Baltimore native and former NFL player Jean Fugett represented a group led by TLC Beatrice, which featured a rare minority bid for an MLB franchise on that day in New York. One bidder, Doug Jemal of Nobody Beats The Wiz electronics stores, had early interest but bowed out before the steamy auction.

That August day, the bidding began at $151.25 million, which included a “stalking fee” of $1.7 million which was originally awarded to DeWitt’s team because of his vast due diligence and legal work done months earlier when he thought he had won a deal to secure the Orioles in the spring.

George Stamas, who represented Angelos’ group during the bidding process, opened the bidding at $153 million, which was seen as a good faith gesture from the combined bid with DeWitt, which could’ve been perceived as artificially deflating the sale price by judge Cornelius Blackshear. Loria, who was a stranger to the Angelos group, immediately raised it by $100,000. Stamas barked out, “One million more – $154.1!”

And for the next 30 minutes, the bids drew north from the $150 millions into the $160s. With every bid, Loria would raise by $100,000. Stamas, on behalf of Angelos, raised it by $1 million at a time. After 13 rounds of back and forth money, Angelos had the leading bid $170 million. Fugett, who had been completely silent during the auction, asked the judge for a recess.

The request was granted and the judge headed to his chambers.

And, suddenly, it got even hotter in a blazing courtroom on a sweltering day in The Big

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An open letter to Adam Jones (and anyone else who doesn’t like Orioles attendance)

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An open letter to Adam Jones (and anyone else who doesn’t like Orioles attendance)

Posted on 31 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It was only a matter of time before Adam Jones started popping off on Twitter regarding his feelings about the lack of people standing behind him in centerfield at Camden Yards. It wasn’t as juicy as last year’s advice to “knock the s**t outta the Yankees fans” but he made his feelings well known yesterday about the worst crowd of the season to see the season’s most significant game to date.

It’s very apparent that Adam Jones cares more about whether the good people of Baltimore come to Orioles games than his bosses and owner do but still not enough to vest himself in our community enough to recruit people to come and pay to see the team play.

 

It must be a bummer for any Orioles player to endure the emptiness of the home ballpark while finally playing meaningful games and quality baseball.

In 2012, the price to pay for 15 years of losing and the worst owner in the history of professional sports is what Adam Jones now sees with a fantastic view from centerfield every night: an empty stadium in downtown Baltimore and plenty of green seats to backdrop every fly ball.

It’s been very clear that the prescient message I sent with “Free The Birds” in 2006 – “if you’re not careful, Mr. Angelos, we might leave and never come back” – has now become a prophecy. The 2012 Baltimore Orioles are everything you’d want in a local sports team to follow – interesting, fun, lively and relevant – and a grand total of 48K came to Camden Yards over four days to watch the best baseball this city has seen in 15 years.

The empty seats are a glaring reminder of what’s gone wrong with the franchise and the city’s passion for the Baltimore Orioles since Peter Angelos bought — and then wrecked — the franchise.

Once Adam Jones stops talking out of the side of his mouth and at the end of this run of success in 2012 – and I’m not betting it won’t end in a parade just yet because I’ve seen stranger things happen — it’ll then be time to invest himself in our community the way he likes to on his Twitter account.

He got the $85.5 million deal back in May and it’ll be his turn to become a Baltimore resident or not. If he’s really interested in people coming to the ballpark then I hope he’ll spend the offseason with the fans here and be Mr. Oriole all winter.

Where will he be in November…and December…or January?

Will he be shaking hands, kissing babies and attempting to become a guy who eventually gets one of those shiny statues out on the patio that no one is visiting these days?

Will Adam Jones be in the community trying to win back the fans of Baltimore?

I’m not talking sitting at a table in a card shop or swag store charging $50 for an autograph. I’m talking about being a true ambassador for the community.

This isn’t about the marketing department. This isn’t about buying more billboards or state-run MASN ads. This isn’t about popping off on Twitter or mandating “sitdowns” with people like me who are still pissed about the entire tenor and arrogance of the Baltimore Orioles and Peter Angelos over two decades.

If the players on the field are embarrassed by an empty stadium, it’s my belief is that THEY – directly – are the only ones who can do something about it. We have to care about them and want to invest our money

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Turning Canton Square into Scunny Square: remembering a legend

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Turning Canton Square into Scunny Square: remembering a legend

Posted on 28 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

You never know when or where you’ll find yourself when news breaks. That’s what we all tell ourselves as journalists and over the years I’ve found the toughest “breaking news” happens when it involves my friends and tragedy.

The date August 24th has been a rough day for me two consecutive years running. Last year I was on my couch watching the Orioles play when I learned in the early evening of the death of Mike Flanagan. This past Friday night and into Saturday morning I was awakened on a summer vacation in Moncton, Canada to learn that another friend had died unexpectedly while I was asleep.

In the era of social media and via the power to propel information into the palms of our hands from anywhere in the world, I learned of the death of my friend Scunny on my mobile phone in the middle of New Brunswick while having morning coffee.

In the hours following, my Facebook and Twitter feeds exploded with condolences, memories and immense cyber sadness regarding the passing of a giant in our community, a guy who we all kind of took for granted and thought would be immortal.

I also learned about the power of  love in the world — a life well lived — and the legend of a man whose death dominated every corner of my friendship, business and civic circle in Baltimore. “Smalltimore” works that way and it’s especially illuminated in our time by the internet.

I’m convinced “Scunny” was the Kevin Bacon of our city, once removed from virtually every person in town.

For those of you who didn’t know him – and I’m not really sure that’s really possible that you could be from the Charm City and not know him because he seemingly knew everyone  – Patrick “Scunny” McKusker owned Nacho Mama’s (and later created Mama’s On The Half Shell) and was truly a one-of-a-kind Baltimore character, restaurant owner, entrepreneur, civic champion, charitable soul and part-time beer drinker and philosopher.

Scunny died on Friday night just a few blocks from his Ocean City beach home while riding his bicycle that collided with a bus. He leaves behind a wonderful wife and two children.

There are varying reports about what happened and there’s an investigation going on as his tangled myriad of friends, peers, loved ones, family members and many patrons are left investigating this unthinkable tragedy that we all learned about at some point in the middle of our blessed lives on a Saturday morning.

I’m not really sure where to begin but writing is my therapy at times like these.

I met Scunny at Nacho Mama’s (like almost everyone else) when I began my radio career in the early 1990’s and was recruiting sponsors.

Scunny and I had a whole lot in common. We both loved beer. We both loved the Orioles. We both missed the Colts. We both welcomed and immediately loved the Ravens. We both loved Baltimore.

Scunny was missing a finger.

I was missing a finger.

Every time we ever saw each other he insisted that we “touch nubs” before we parted. It was our bond, right along with his amazing salsa and the soft chicken tacos that I’ve tackled at least a hundred times.

The stories about his generosity have been well chronicled and it was impossible to know him and not know about his work with Believe In Tomorrow. He also hired developmentally challenged people and gave them jobs and a purpose. He was a sweet man who would’ve won any “Character Bowl” competition John Steadman would’ve

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