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

July 03, 2018 | Nestor Aparicio

transactions like trades and signings.

“I think I’ll be involved in areas involving the business side as well as the baseball side,” DeWitt said. “Hopefully, I can be helpful on a consulting basis.”

Right away, Angelos was quick to talk about winning and the importance of a competitive club on the field.

“There has been some concern that we spent too much money [buying the franchise] and there will not be enough left to make this team a consistent winner,” Angelos said. “That is not the case. Those occasions arise when one player may make the difference. If that occasion arises, you have to be equal to it. But the best way to build a winning team is through [player] development. We’re going to have to balance out desire to get strong players and be careful not to do anything to harm the club for years to come.”

Angelos told The Sun that he expected to listen to advice from the Orioles board and executive committee but made it clear that he was the managing partner.

“These are people of diverse talents and personalities,” Angelos said of his new partners. “I would expect to use that. I won’t hesitate to take to them any matter of substance that deals with the club, its success and civic image.”

The newspaper reported that “the agreement states that Angelos, as managing general partner, will have ‘the exclusive right to manage the business’ of the team. That includes decisions involving the signing of players, negotiation of television and radio contracts and decisions regarding front-office personnel.”

Tom Clancy summed up his faith in Angelos thusly: “All business ultimately comes down to trust,” Clancy said. “Peter is an honorable guy. I take him seriously, and he takes me seriously.”

The third-largest investor on Team Angelos was Stephen A. Geppi, who as a kid from Little Italy in Baltimore dreamed of owning the Orioles and now had a stake. Geppi, who took his passion in comic books and became the industry’s largest distributor, also gave a vote of confidence to his new partner. “Even though he has the final say, he’ll listen to us,” Geppi said. “He’ll listen to what common sense dictates.”

Angelos initially invested $32 million for a 50% share. Clancy was in for 22% with a $12 million investment and Geppi put in almost $4 million for a 5% stake. DeWitt bought nearly $10 million to the table to help the group in the final hours and it was unclear how much stock he received.

Now that Angelos had full control of the team, he once again echoed his pre-purchase mantra – the one that made very little sense to anyone who realized that Oriole Park at Camden Yards was less than two years old and the team had a 30-year binding lease to play in it through 2021. He again reiterated that the stability of the team would be greater with a local owner.

“I predict that this club will never leave here,” Angelos said. “I further promise you that, as far as this ownership group is concerned, the club will never again be controlled by outside interests. The Orioles are such a part of this state that when you consider that somehow or other they might be controlled or some day taken away from us, that is simply unthinkable and something that we will never allow to happen.”

On August 3, 1993, just 24 hours removed from the biggest victory of their lives, Angelos joined DeWitt and Lucchino along with many of the other new partners for a celebratory evening of pennant-race Orioles baseball at Camden Yards. The Birds beat the Brewers 13-8 and won the second of what would be a eight-game winning streak that brought them within a ½ game of first place in mid August. The team’s starting pitching would wilt over the next two weeks as they lost eight in a row in Detroit, New York and Seattle, crushing postseason hopes.

On October 3, the Orioles finished the 1993 season at 85-77, good enough for third place.

On October 4, Peter G. Angelos assembled his bankers and took control of the Baltimore Orioles. Eli Jacobs received $173 million. Angelos took over operations of the franchise.

At 8:30 a.m. on October 5, Minnesota banker Joe Foss delivered a letter to Larry Lucchino relieving him of all duties as C.E.O. & president of the Orioles. Many thought that Angelos’ right hand man during the purchase, George Stamas, would be named the team’s president. Instead, Foss, who Angelos had just met in May and who had never worked outside of banking or inside of baseball, was named the team’s president.

Lucchino was all-too-familiar with mercurial owners who