Longtime Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos dies at 94


BALTIMORE — Peter Angelos, owner of a Baltimore Orioles team that endured long losing stretches and shrewd proprietor of a law firm that won high-profile cases against industry titans, died Saturday. He was 94.

Angelos had been ill for several years. His family announced his death in a statement released by the Orioles that thanked the caregivers “who brought comfort to him in his final years.”

Angelos’ death comes as his son, John, is in the process of selling the Orioles to a group headed by Carlyle Group Inc. co-founder David Rubenstein. Peter Angelos’ public role diminished significantly in his final years. According to a lawsuit involving his sons in 2022, he had surgery after his aortic valve failed in 2017.

Born on the Fourth of July in 1929 and raised in Maryland by Greek immigrants, Peter Angelos rose from a blue-collar background to launch a firm in his own name after receiving his law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1961.

In August 1993, Angelos led a group of investors that bought the Orioles. The group included writer Tom Clancy, filmmaker Barry Levinson and tennis star Pam Shriver. The price tag of $173 million — at the time the highest for a sports franchise — came in a sale forced by the bankruptcy of then-owner Eli Jacobs.

While remaining active in a law firm specializing in personal injury cases, Angelos assumed a hands-on approach to running his hometown team. Few player acquisitions were carried out without his approval, and his reputation for not spending millions on high-priced free agents belied his net worth, which in 2017 was estimated at $2.1 billion.

In 1996, his firm brought a lawsuit on behalf of the state of Maryland against tobacco giant Philip Morris, securing a $4.5 billion settlement. The Law Offices of Peter Angelos also earned millions of dollars through the settlement of asbestos cases, including a class-action suit on behalf of steel, shipyard and manufacturing facility workers.

Angelos made headlines as well in baseball. In 1995, he was the only one of 28 owners who refused to adhere to a plan to use replacement players during a union strike that began during the 1994 season.

“We’re duty bound to provide major league baseball to our fans, and that can’t be done with replacement players,” he insisted.

At the time, Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. was only 122 games from breaking Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games played. The streak would have ended if the season started with replacement players and Ripken remained on strike, but the owners and players reached an agreement before opening day and Ripken ultimately ended up extending his record run to 2,632.

Angelos also fought for years to create an exhibition series between the Orioles and Cuba’s national team, a quest that reached fruition in 1999. On March 28, the Orioles played in Havana while Angelos sat alongside Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The teams met again on May 3 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The series marked the first time the Cuban national team had faced a squad composed solely of major league players, and the first time since 1959 a big league club played in Cuba.

“He’s always had an interest in politics, especially foreign policy. That, and his involvement with baseball, made it a natural thing,” said John Angelos, a son and the Orioles’ current chairman and CEO.

The Orioles never won a World Series with Angelos as their owner. The team finally ended a run of 14 consecutive losing seasons in 2012, reaching the postseason under manager Buck Showalter. Baltimore made it to the American League Championship Series in 2014. But in 2018 the bottom fell out when the Orioles finished 47-115, the worst record in the majors and worst since the franchise relocated from St. Louis in 1954.

Showalter was fired, and a major rebuild began the following season under rookie manager Brandon Hyde. The Orioles capped a swift rise from their rebuild by winning 101 games and a division title in 2023.

Though the team was rarely sensational, its home base certainly stood out. Sellout crowds were the norm after Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened in 1992. The iconic structure was built predominantly with brick, mortar and steel — much in the same fashion as old-time ballparks — and was the blueprint for other stadiums to follow.

In an era when owners often sell the name of their team’s stadium or arena to advertisers with the highest bid, Angelos never succumbed to such a transaction.

As he neared his 90th birthday, Angelos finally settled into the background and entrusted the operation of the team to his two sons, John and Louis.

John Angelos also is president of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, a regional network that televises Orioles and Washington Nationals games. Though both teams share ownership of MASN, the Orioles hold a large majority interest.

Louis, the younger of the brothers, is an attorney at the Law Offices of Peter Angelos and a representative of Orioles ownership.

Though known as the owner of a baseball team and successful law firm, Peter Angelos’ reach in Maryland went far deeper. He had a political career that began with an unsuccessful run for state Senate in 1958, but after that he held a seat on the Baltimore City Council from 1959 to 1963.

In 1967, his bid to become Baltimore’s mayor ended in the Democratic primary.

Angelos also was a player in the horse racing industry. He bought several horses and named one after his manager at the time — Showalter, who won his debut race as a 2-year-old at Laurel Race Course in 2015.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb



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