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Op/ed: Former Orioles Owner Peter Angelos Was Loved, Hated and Never One to Back Down

Journalism Professor Who Covered Team Recounts Highlights of 30-year Ownership Tenure

By Mark Hyman

reporters talk to man in suit walking down street

Reporters spoke to Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos in New York in 2004 while Major League Baseball was weighing a decision on the future home of the Montreal Expos. Angelos opposed the move of the team that would eventually become the Nationals to Washington, D.C.

AP Photo/Gregory Bull

DMV-area sports fans remember Peter Angelos, the longtime Baltimore Orioles majority owner who died on Saturday, in part for a tenure rich with controversy over his decisions about the team and its declining fortunes—but there was more to him than that, writes Mark Hyman, director of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and the George Solomon Endowed Chair in Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland.

In a new essay in The Baltimore Banner, Hyman recounts his years covering the Orioles and Angelos, including Angelos’ agile deal making to acquire the team, his fearless outspokenness in the face of the MLB and other owners in the 1994 MLB labor stoppage and his access to the corridors of power in Washington—leading to a pair of games that rival any ever played in their historic importance.

On March 28, 1999, Peter Angelos had a seat at a baseball game unlike anything most fans — or team owners — can imagine.

At Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana, his seatmate was Fidel Castro. Angelos wore a blazer and dress shirt — Casual Friday for a man who almost always appeared in public in a dark suit and tie. Castro, to his left, was dressed in green fatigues and military cap. Sitting 100 yards away, I could not take my eyes off them.

After the game, the first involving a Major League Baseball team in Cuba in 40 years, I asked the Orioles owner if he’d had a problem meeting one of the world’s most notorious and repressive autocrats. He said, no, “Except I was kind of unhappy he was so much taller than me. That was my first thought.” Angelos was 5 feet 6. Castro was 6-3.

That afternoon in Havana might have been the happiest day of Peter Angelos’ 30 years as Orioles owner. Angelos, who has not run the team since he became incapacitated by health issues in 2018, died Saturday at age 94 — days before a new baseball season as owners appear poised to approve the sale of his family’s controlling stake in the team to a group led by David Rubenstein. The season will begin Thursday, the 25th anniversary of that game in Cuba.

Read the rest in The Baltimore Banner.

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