Peter Angelos, who owned Orioles for over 30 years, dies at 94 -

Peter Angelos, who owned Orioles for over 30 years, dies at 94

Peter G. Angelos
Photo credit: AP Photo - Steve Ruark

Peter Angelos, one of the most polarizing figures in the history of Baltimore sports, and the longtime managing partner of the Orioles, died Saturday. He was 94.

Angelos, who led a group of investors who purchased the Orioles from Eli Jacobs in October 1993 for $173 million, was a self-made man who had accumulated his wealth as an attorney specializing in cases from plaintiffs suing for damages from asbestos exposure.

The team was sold by the Angelos family in January 2024 to a group led by private equity investor David Rubenstein. John Angelos ran the team from 2018 to 2024 after his father’s health deteriorated. The sale is pending approval of MLB owners.

Born on July 4th, 1929, Angelos was raised in Baltimore and was a graduate of Patterson Park High School and the University of Baltimore. He attended night school at the University of Baltimore School of Law, and tried his hand at local politics in the 1950s and 1960s.

Angelos served on the Baltimore City Council for four years and ran unsuccessfully for City Council President in 1963 and Mayor in 1967.

After accumulating his fortune, Angelos, who was not an avid baseball fan, and his group, which included best-selling novelist Tom Clancy, filmmaker Barry Levinson and tennis player Pam Shriver, won a spirited bidding war.

“We’ve brought home the ownership of the club,” said Angelos after the sale was made official. “The city obviously will go on … [and] this ballpark will be here long after we’re all gone. So will the Orioles. All we’ll do is serve as trustees. We’ll hold the ballclub in trust for future Marylanders. … We own it, yes. But we own it in a very fleeting way.”

Angelos proved to be a hands-on owner, and he was often criticized for not allowing Orioles managers and general managers enough latitude.

In his first season as owner, the players struck, and Angelos made headlines and enemies among his fellow owners by refusing to sign a document blaming the players for the strike. The following spring, he further engendered enmity among the owners by refusing to field a team of replacement players during the work stoppage.

Late that season, when Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak on September 6, 1995, Angelos was booed by the Camden Yards crowd for speaking too long and making Ripken wait.

After that, Angelos largely retreated from public view, but aggressively operated the team from his law offices, on North Charles Street, a short distance away from the ballpark.

In July 1996, with the Orioles floundering, manager Davey Johnson, general manager Pat Gillick and assistant general manager Kevin Malone, decided to aggressively market starting pitcher David Wells and outfielder Bobby Bonilla.

Angelos vetoed the move, and the Orioles got hot, and qualified for the postseason as a wild-card team, their first postseason appearance in 13 years.

The Orioles upset the favored Cleveland Indians and lost to the New York Yankees in five games in the American League Championship Series.

His team’s success emboldened Angelos, and in 1997, the Orioles won the American League East, and lost to the Indians in a taut six-game ALCS.

After the series, Johnson who had been feuding with Angelos, requested a raise and extension. It was denied, and just after winning the American League Manager of the Year award, Johnson resigned as Orioles manager.

Angelos also tangled with Johnny Oates, the manager he inherited and fired after the strike-shortened 1994 season and popular broadcaster Jon Miller, whom he let go after the 1996 season.

Johnson’s departure coincided with the start of 14 straight losing seasons for the Orioles as well as six managers and seven general managers during those difficult seasons.

Angelos spent liberally on free agents at times, signing outfielder Albert Belle to a five-year, $65 million contract after the 1998 season. The moody Belle suffered a debilitating hip injury and didn’t play in the last three seasons of his contract.

He also authorized a six-year, $72 million contract to start shortstop Miguel Tejada in December 2003, but refused to match the Yankees’ free-agent offer to star pitcher Mike Mussina after the 2000 season.

In 1999, the Orioles played two games against the Cuban National team, one in March in Havana, and another on May 3rd in Baltimore. That controversial game led to the end of in-season exhibition games.

Despite fears from other owners that that relationship would give the Orioles an advantage in signing Cuban defectors, that turned out not to be the case, and under Angelos, the Orioles withdrew from the market for high-dollar international amateur players, feeling that the system was corrupt, a decision that wasn’t reversed until July 2018.

Angelos, by all accounts a generous man, was heavily criticized by fans and rarely available for large-scale interviews.

In June 2007, frustrated by the team’s continued losing, he hired Andy MacPhail to run the team’s baseball operations. The two had a close business relationship until MacPhail left after his contract expired in October 2011 to tend to family matters.

MacPhail hired Buck Showalter in July 2010, and in 2012 with Dan Duquette replacing MacPhail, the Orioles ended their streak of losing seasons with a surprise run that ended with a five-game loss to New York in the Division Series.

Angelos was occasionally visible in the 2012 season, and publicly endorsed extensions for Duquette and Showalter after the loss in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium.

Duquette and Showalter were both extended through the 2018 season, and the Orioles won the AL East in 2014, advancing to the ALCS, where they were swept in four games by the Kansas City Royals.

Angelos had given MacPhail, Duquette and Showalter more latitude than their predecessors, and regularly talked with his manager.

In December 2014, reports surfaced that Duquette, who had been extended less than two years before, was trying to escape his contract to run the Toronto Blue Jays.

This angered Angelos and he refused to let Duquette depart. After the 2015 season, Angelos insisted on issuing a record contract to free-agent first baseman Chris Davis, who had led the majors in home runs in both 2013 and 2015.

The seven-year, $161 million contract, which was popular with fans at the time, proved to be a bad one for the team.

Angelos, and his wife, Georgia, made generous donations to the University of Baltimore. One building he named for his parents, John and Frances. Many of his charitable works were not public.

He is survived by his wife, his sons John, the former Chairman and CEO of the Orioles, and Louis, who sued his brother and mother over control of the team in a suit that was settled in February 2023.

The Orioles issued the following statement on behalf of the Angelos family:

“Today, Peter G. Angelos passed away quietly at the age of 94. Mr. Angelos had been ill for several years, and the family thanks the doctors, nurses, and caregivers who brought comfort to him in his final years. It was Mr. Angelos’ wish to have a private burial, and the family asks for understanding as they honor that request. Donations may be sent to charity in lieu of flowers.”

David Rubenstein issued a statement as well:

“I offer my deepest condolences to the Angelos family on the passing of Peter Angelos. Peter made an indelible mark first in business and then in baseball. The city of Baltimore owes him a debt of gratitude for his stewardship of the Orioles across three decades and for positioning the team for great success.”

Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred, issued the following statement:

“Peter Angelos was a proud native of Baltimore who deeply appreciated owning the Baltimore Orioles.  Peter’s lifetime ofph ilanthropy greatly benefited numerous worthy causes throughout his hometown.  He championed the Orioles’ historic 1999 series with the Cuban National Team.  Peter ably served the game on our Labor Committee, and I will always remember his personal support when I was first elected to this role in his home city in 2014.

 “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my condolences to Peter’s wife, Georgia, their sons John and Louis, and the entire Angelos family.”

Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. said:

“Pater was a significant influence in Baltimore for decades. His impact on our region through his partnership of the Orioles and his many charitable contributions has been undeniable. Peter and I had a good relationship and following my retirement, his generosity towards our family’s foundation and assistance in making the IronBirds an Orioles affiliate in our hometown were greatly appreciated. Laura and I have Georgia and the Angelos family in our thoughts today.”

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