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Orioles' fans, announcers victims of Angelos family values

Adam Moss from East Amherst, New York, United States
Wikimedia Commons

It takes a special quality to thumb your nose at a city, a state and a culture to hold out for just what you want just the way you want it.

Call it persistence. Call it self-confidence. Call it arrogance.

Whatever it is, Orioles CEO John Angelos has it in abundance.

That quality has been on display for quite some time in the Angelos family, John’s father, Peter, a supremely gifted attorney and the longtime chairman of the Orioles, never suffered fools gladly.

Peter Angelos made it clear that during his working life and in his time as the chief executive of the Orioles that he knew what he wanted and would do what it took to get it, even at the expense of his image.

I witnessed it first-hand 27 years ago when the contract of Orioles radio announcer Jon Miller was coming to an end.

Miller, who is on the short list of the most gifted play-by-play men in baseball broadcast history, was beloved in this city and dearly wanted to stay.

But Peter Angelos decided that Miller’s on-air work wasn’t sycophantic enough. He told me that he wanted Miller to quote bleed a little black and orange unquote, those being the Orioles’ team colors.

Miller bolted for San Francisco, where he has been ever since. His departure cast a pall over the reputation of all who have followed him in the booth.

Flash forward to the present day where John Angelos is in charge. Another gifted Orioles announcer, Kevin Brown, apparently ran afoul of the boss Bird by having the temerity to express that the team hadn’t played well recently in Tampa and with facts to back it up. For that, he was suspended for two weeks.

We say apparently because, unlike his father, John Angelos didn’t step forward to claim his handiwork, leaving it for others to surmise, given the family history, that he was offended by Brown’s trip to the land of truthfulness.

The team’s attempt to stifle honest dialogue, though universally condemned in and out of town, could have been waived away as, well, just weird if not for revelations about the ongoing negotiations to get the Birds to commit to Baltimore long term.

The city’s major newspapers traded reporting about dealings between John Angelos and the Maryland Stadium Authority, which owns Oriole Park. First, the Baltimore Sun reported that John Angelos halted negotiations until the new Maryland governor, Wes Moore, took office in January. The clear implication was that Moore, who received campaign contributions from John Angelos, would treat the club more fairly.

The paper later added that Thomas Kelso, the former stadium authority director, accused Angelos and Moore of keeping him in the dark about negotiations. The Baltimore Banner reported that John Angelos has tried to extract more money as well as land from the state above the $600 million the club will get in bonds for stadium renovations once it signs a long term lease.

If the Orioles sign a new lease before the December 31 expiration date, all of this may be forgotten. But history suggests that John Angelos probably isn’t done putting into practice the lessons he’s learned from his father.

And that’s how I see it for this week. You can reach us via email with your questions and comments at Sports at Large at gmail.com. And follow me on Threads and Twitter at Sports at Large.

Until next week, for all of us here, I’m Milton Kent. Thanks for listening and enjoy the games.

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.