Remembering time spent with Peter G. Angelos upon his passing

The dates and maybe even the actual years they occurred all seem to run together now. But I think it was sometime during the year 1999 that I first met and had lunch with Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos.

At one point he said to me, "How is your sandwich?"

I said, "Really good, thanks." He asked more questions about how I felt about the restaurant (I don’t even remember which one now) and the food. I answered further. He paused a few seconds and then said, "Good, just checking. I bought this place last week."

All I could think to say was, "Good pickup for you, sir."

Over the next four years or so as sports director of the O’s flagship radio station WBAL Radio, I would get to know the man better and had several meetings with him each season at his Charles Street law offices.

Some of those stories are coming back to me today and make me smile. Because to me, the man I got to know a bit, was charming, smart, funny, warm and polite. He treated me as someone who belonged in his social circles or even financial ones and that was definitely not even close.

That was the Mr. Angelos I knew. And even though he told me repeatedly to call him Peter, I never could consistently do it and it always came back to Mr. A or Mr. Angelos.

Born the son of Greek immigrants on July 4, 1929, Mr. Angelos passed away today after a long illness. He bought the Orioles for $173 million in 1993. His family recently sold the club to a group led by David Rubenstein and that sale will become final and official very shortly it appears. One Baltimore native selling to another.

Angelos' time owning the club was controversial and contentious at times. Fans felt he interfered too much and at other times, didn’t spend enough on players.

I surely didn’t agree with his every move. Which is sort of what led to that lunch in 1999 in the first place.

I was offered the job as WBAL Radio sports director and would host O’s shows often and cover the club. It was a dream job for me, a kid from this area who grew up rooting for the orange and black. But before I agreed to take it, I asked to meet with Mr. Angelos.

I asked him how he would feel if I ever went on the radio and criticized him for a move he and/or the club made?

He said that day: “I don’t care about that. Just that you always will hear our side.”

Which I told him I would do 100 times out of 100. Over the next few years, he would call me sometimes and in a loud voice he didn’t agree with what I had said on the air that night. But besides venting sometimes, there were never any repercussions for me. He kept his word he made that day at that restaurant.

When you would go to meet with him at his law office, you might need two hours to get 10 minutes with him. Each time we started to talk he would get interrupted.

“Sir, Senator Warner on the line.”

“Sir, Bud Selig is calling.”

I got used to saying with a laugh, "You better take that one."

But I found someone during those short meetings over a few years to be charming and so much more knowledgeable about his team than he was given credit for. Often I would leave his office realizing he had asked me more questions than I had asked him. He was curious about how I felt about some things. And he often took a few minutes to rip into a few media guys.

I always reminded him that was nothing I could help him with.

Once we argued over bonus dollar amounts for high school draft picks. I finally said, "‘Well, if you want, I’ll just go on the radio tonight and tell the fans you won’t pay over a certain amount." That one drew a look. I then said something like, "Sir, maybe that is why the Rays have more good young players than you do."

I think I surprised myself that I had either the guts to say that or just felt comfortable enough with the man to say that to him. It was really the latter.

I remember telling him once, “I wish the Orioles fans would know you as I do.”

He once asked me to stay for lunch and the thought of a kid that grew up loving the Orioles sitting across his desk from the O’s owner sharing a meal was not lost on me that day. He could see it in my smile.

I could tell a lot more stories and maybe will over time. Like the day he gave me the story that Albert Belle’s career was ending. This was long before social media. But that night it was a big deal for my radio station that we were the source of the news as the crawl ran across ESPN.

Or the time he took a call in front of me in a conference room and I could tell was negotiating a big dollar deal of some sort. At one point he said, “We won’t go over $200,000,” or some large amount. Then he hung up and said, “Don’t tell anyone, but I just bought a horse.”

The man actually had good relationships with a few reporters but not too many. I guess I was a lucky one. I feel lucky, to have had those encounters and to get at least for a brief time to know the man behind the headlines.

The club issued a statement on behalf of the Angelos family today that read:

“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.”

He loved his family and he sure as heck loved his city and baseball team. On a personal note, I am thankful that he showed me kindness and he showed me respect.

RIP Mr. A.

The club posted on X today here and here

Mr. Rubenstein issued a statement here and Jim Palmer's thoughts are here.

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Long-time Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos passes aw...

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