Peter G. Angelos appeared at The Barn in Carney for a two-hour debate on the Budweiser Sports Forum with Nestor Aparicio on WLG-AM 1360.
The date was Monday, March 10, 1997.
You can hear the entire conversation below:
The conversation meandered in many directions with many responses that can be better judged with 20/20 vision two decades later.
On overruling Pat Gillick and the Bobby Bonilla DH/3B situation with Davey Johnson:
“(Gillick) didn’t quit on season. He just made a misjudgment. (Crowd laughs heartily) After all the pros can’t be right all the time. We fans also can make a good guess now and then. I know I’m a fan and everyone in the room is a fan. And we all have opinions and many times, believe it or not, we guess pretty well.
“The talk about all of the dissension in the clubhouse and so on is exaggerated. There was a dispute between Bobby Bo and Davey about whether he should be a third basemen or a DHer…
“Eventually things worked out and the reason it sort of evened out and the team came together and played very well and won a helluva lotta games is because all of the talk about trading Wells, trading Bobby, trading Hammonds and so on had been disposed of and they settled down as of August the 1st, 1996 and they played baseball and we all know what the results are. They all pulled together and did us proud at the end of the season.”
On overruling general manager Pat Gillick:
“Keeping Wells was the right thing to do. Trading for (catcher Chris) Widger, who would’ve been the only player of substance we would’ve gotten for them, would’ve been a mistake. Going to the playoffs excited this whole area, sharpened interest in the team and really in 1997 made the Orioles believe that they can win and even get to the World Series.
The decision to shut down the 1996 season, which is what we would’ve done had we traded off Wells and Bonilla, that was a front office decision. It was mine to make and not just for the professionals. We had literally sold the season out.”
Angelos talked about the sellout crowds. He went on to brag that the Orioles had already sold 3.1 million tickets for the 1997 season and the Yankees had only sold 1.1 million tickets. He was looking for applause and he got it.
Then the subject of manager Davey Johnson came up and Angelos bristled with his own contradiction.
“I don’t think any boss, anybody in charge should ever criticize subordinates publicly. That is even in this business here that Frank Sliwka operates [at The Barn in Carney]. If he has a problem with one of the employees I think he should take them in the back room quietly and tell should tell him or her what he objects to. I don’t think anyone should publicly chastise an employee. When you’re a boss you keep that kind of thing to yourself. And that’s what I said to Davey Johnson. And I’ll repeat it again and I’ve told him that since then. He’s a great manager. He’s a great guy. I love him like a brother and we get along fine. Except I’ve said to him, “If you have to criticize someone, you take him in your office, shut the door and let it be between you and the player.”
Immediately that begged the question: “Well, isn’t that, in fact, a criticism of Davey Johnson? And publicly? On the radio?”
“You’re DAMNED RIGHT IT IS and I expect him to correct it!” Angelos bellowed.
Peter G. Angelos – a man of many contradictions.
So why did Angelos get involved almost four years earlier? Why did he want to own the Orioles so badly?
“It was intended that the team was to be sold to a group from Ohio, Cincinnati Ohio. Bill Dewitt ultimately bought the St Louis Cardinals just last year with a group. All I said that it was time to for a Baltimore group, or a Maryland group to step up and buy the team so that the Orioles would be owned by Marylanders, and particularly Baltimoreans. Because when you don’t own your own franchise it makes you like a ‘branch’ town. It makes it look like there aren’t people who are part of the scene who are prepared to step up and own the team and make it a hometown franchise. That’s why I got involved. I believe that local ownership is critical to a franchise. I think it keeps the interest up. I think that the people who live here and who are part of the ownership contribute in many ways. It also indicates to the fans that we’re not just committed to just running a business. The key effort and the key goal of our group is to win. We wanna win. And we’re gonna spend what we have to spend to win. We want to give Baltimore a winner.”
Earlier in 1997, it was reported that the Orioles were losing money despite playing to a sold out crowd every night. In March 1997, Angelos readily addressed the teams profits and losses when