crowd yelled, “And he’s worth it!” And Angelos barked back: “Nobody said he wasn’t!”
“We wouldn’t have offered it to him if he wasn’t worth it. He’s our guy. As people say, he is the franchise. He’s a tremendous ballplayer. He’s just a great guy. I go to lunch with him frequently and we talk about all kinds of things. We are really friends beyond me being in charge of the ball club and him playing for the ball club. Hopefully he’ll be here forever as someone just recommended.”
Then the subject came back to Angelos’ favorite subject: Baltimore. And local ownership. And local pride. And the question about how in the world a “local” guy from Highlandtown would restrict using the word “Baltimore” on any of the team’s markings, including the road jerseys and team letterhead.
Angelos had just been on a long tangent about how important “local” ownership was for a Baltimore team to not have a “branch city” mentality about ownership.
The regional nature of the marketing of the franchise began during Jerold Hoffberger’s era when the Washington Senators left for Texas in 1971. The Orioles had spent a quarter of a century courting not just D.C. but parts of six states for fans and growth in interest and revenue. The success in the stands was no longer in jeopardy. In general, the 3.8 million who were coming to “Orioles” games knew perfectly well that the team played in Baltimore. And Angelos knew full well that the Ravens put a giant “B” on their NFL helmets as a representation of Baltimore that the Orioles had eschewed through three ownership groups. Ravens president David Modell said it was the most common thing he heard when the Browns were moved to Baltimore: we want it to be Baltimore’s team.
Angelos was pressed: “When would this be rectified by the hometown owner?”
“Why not here? Why not now? Let’s put Baltimore back on the road jerseys?”
After the crowd rallied around the host, Angelos took the stand.
OK, let me tell ya…The Baltimore name was removed from the jerseys when Jerry Hoffberger owned the team. It was even removed back before Edward Bennett Williams bought the team. That’s something that I didn’t know, by the way, and I’ve learned it since.
I’m gonna tell ya this. For 1997, you’re going to have it back. Cause it’s gonna say Baltimore 200th Anniversary Birthday celebration.”
And he cackled and gently laughed as the crowd booed.
The host then pressed him on the subject of Washington, D.C. and its value to the franchise – both in the coffers and on the field once that extra money is invested in players. But putting “Baltimore” on the road jerseys as a true source of civic pride wouldn’t have cost them a nickel. As a matter of fact, they’d have made money on new apparel and throwback gear (as they did a decade later).
But when pressed directly on whether it was done as to not offend the “champagne drinkers” and Washingtonians – it was no secret that the D.C. elite took over the best seats behind home plate and the club level during the Camden Yards era – Angelos launched into a missive that needs to heard to be appreciated. He was passionate and simply took the floor to make his case about why Washington, D.C. should never be granted its own baseball team.
(At this point the Montreal Expos were still considered salvageable so the eventual outcome was simply not deemed tremendously