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Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos dies at 94

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 thanking the caregivers "who brought comfort to him in his final years."

Oakland Athletics v Baltimore Orioles
BALTIMORE - APRIL 4: Owner Peter Angelos of the Baltimore Orioles watches pregame festivities from the dugout before the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Oakland Athletics 4-0 on opening day, April 4, 2005 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. / Getty Images

Angelos' death comes as his son, John, plans to sell 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.

Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr said in a statement on Saturday Angelos was a proud Baltimore native who "deeply appreciated" owning the Orioles. 

  "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," Manfred said. 

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.

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