realistic or feasible. It was as much an expansion discussion as a relocation debate. And two years later, MLB commissioner Bud Selig would recommend contracting the Expos and Minnesota Twins.)
It was very clear that Angelos loved to hold court and plead his case to the jury. He was quite persuasive. It’s how he became a billionaire.
“That’s all a bunch of newspaper baloney, the champagne drinkers in Washington.”
“Let’s all settle down here and make some sense!”
“We get objections from people on the Eastern Shore to the contention that we should put Baltimore on the jerseys. That’s the truth. They say, ‘Well, what do you mean “Baltimore Orioles?” The Orioles are more than just Baltimore. They’re all over the state of Maryland. That doesn’t take into consideration the people who come to the games from the Wahsington suburbs and who come from Northern Virginia, and so on.”
“Let’s…let’s…let’s face facts, gentlemen – and ladies in particular – ‘You’re not gonna draw three million, eight hundred thousand fans just from the Bal’mer suburbs and the Bal’mer City. Don’t think you can…”
At this point, a fan at The Barn yelled out: “Why not?”
Angelos burred up and stared at him while cutting him off…
“Cause you can’t do that! It just simply won’t happen. The fact that we don’t do that – that Hoffberger and Williams, and we so far is have not put that on the uniforms – is a decision that was made in the sense that they wanted the team to be a more regional team, that it was identified by people distances away from Baltimore as a strictly a Baltimore team.”
“That it is the Baltimore Orioles and that’s the way it’s said on television. That’s the way it’s referred to wherever you look across the United States. But the decision that they made, which we have left uncorrected, to eliminate that word – was for the purpose of increasing the draw.”
“You will remember that when Hoffberger owned the team – and he had the best Oriole teams in the history Orioles, so far – that they couldn’t draw a million fans. There came a time when Williams had the team that they did draw million and a half and 2 million and ultimately over 2 million. Then when we went to Camden Yards – before we got the team – they drew 3.4 million. We’re going to draw 3.8 million this year.”
And Angelos didn’t even break stride in meandering right into the point of the conversation – his thesis – keeping a team out of Washington, D.C. is the only way to keep the Orioles healthy.
“And we’re going to be watching very carefully to see what’s going to happen with some of the efforts to put a baseball franchise in Washington or in Northern Virginia.
“And I’m gonna tell ya straight up: we don’t think there should be a baseball franchise in Northern Virginia or in Washington. Because you would have a repetition of what you have in Oakland and San Francisco. In Oakland and San Francisco you have the same kind of population mix that you have between Baltimore and Washington. And those two teams kill each other off. Both of those teams drew, last year, less than two million fans. Together, they drew 3 million fans. But because they’re so close to each other and they’re both part of one metropolitan area – mega metropolitan area – they are literally killing themselves at the gate.
“Why don’t we not want to do that? Why are we a little leery of doing that? We’re afraid to tamper with it because those three million, eight hundred thousand fans that we’re drawing in that beautiful ballpark – that’s Camden Yards, that’s talked about throughout the United States, is what enables us to spend $62 million a year to put a team on the field. I don’t want to have a baseball team in Baltimore that can’t afford to compete with the New York Yankees. I don’t want to be part of a baseball team that doesn’t have the money to sign a Mike Mussina for $7 million a year. Or Cal Ripken – what he needs to have, and Brady, and all the rest of the players. You’ve got to have big dollars to compete in baseball today.
“And the reason that that name is not on there – and I’m not saying it won’t be on there – I still run that through my mind and I’m as tempted to do it as some of you want me to do it – but I’m concerned that if I hurt that gate – and I assure you that it isn’t going to hurt my pocketbook – I’m concerned that I would hurt the kind of revenues that we’re drawing which will enable us to make the Orioles – and this is what we hope to do – the Number One team in the American League. And we’re pretty close to doing that, believe me!
“Listen there’s nobody in here that feels any stronger about the city or about the state than I do. I think we all share that feeling. But you have to use a little bit of judgment and be careful that you don’t sacrifice. And let me say this – and then I’ll get off of it – in 1997, the Baltimore Orioles will draw more revenues from all of the sources that flow into the coffers than any team in the American League, including the Yankees.
“Now what does that mean? That means that next year we’ll do even more and the year after we’re going to do even more than that…because, eventually I want to see our team go to New York and kick the CRAP outta the New York Yankees!”
Clearly, that caught the attention of the Baltimore faithful. Angelos got plenty of