Peter Angelos, Trailblazing Owner of Baltimore Orioles and Renowned Litigator, Dies at 94

Peter Angelos, the tenacious owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team and founder of a powerhouse law firm that took on corporate giants, passed away on Saturday at the age of 94. Angelos had been ailing for several years, and his family expressed gratitude to the caregivers who provided him comfort in his final years.

Angelos’ death comes as his son, John, is in the process of selling the Orioles to a group led by David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group Inc. Peter Angelos’ public presence had diminished significantly in recent years, following surgery in 2017 after a failed aortic valve.

Born on Independence Day in 1929 to Greek immigrant parents, Angelos rose from humble beginnings in Maryland to establish his eponymous law firm after earning his law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1961. His firm specialized in personal injury cases and achieved landmark victories against corporate behemoths.

In 1993, Angelos spearheaded a group of investors, including writer Tom Clancy, filmmaker Barry Levinson, and tennis star Pam Shriver, to purchase the Orioles for a then-record $173 million. As the team’s hands-on owner, Angelos maintained a tight grip on player acquisitions and earned a reputation for fiscal restraint, despite his estimated $2.1 billion net worth in 2017.

Angelos’ firm secured a $4.5 billion settlement against tobacco giant Philip Morris on behalf of the state of Maryland in 1996. The firm also won millions through asbestos-related class-action suits on behalf of workers in industries like steel, shipyards, and manufacturing.

In the baseball world, Angelos made headlines in 1995 as the lone owner to refuse to field replacement players during a players’ strike, stating, “We’re duty bound to provide major league baseball to our fans, and that can’t be done with replacement players.” His stance protected Cal Ripken Jr.’s iconic consecutive games streak, which ultimately reached 2,632 games.

Angelos also fought for years to organize an exhibition series between the Orioles and Cuba’s national team, a goal realized in 1999 when the Orioles played in Havana, with Angelos seated alongside Fidel Castro. The series marked the first time a Cuban team faced a major league roster and the first time a big league club played in Cuba since 1959.

While the Orioles never won a World Series under Angelos’ ownership, they ended a 14-year playoff drought in 2012 and reached the American League Championship Series in 2014. However, the team hit rock bottom in 2018 with a dismal 47-115 record, prompting a rebuild that culminated in a division title and 101 wins in 2023.

Angelos remained steadfast in his refusal to sell naming rights to the iconic Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which opened in 1992 and set the standard for modern ballparks with its retro brick-and-steel design.

As he approached his 90s, Angelos ceded day-to-day operations to his sons, John and Louis, while maintaining ownership stakes in the Orioles and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), which televises Orioles and Washington Nationals games.

Beyond his business pursuits, Angelos had a political career that included an unsuccessful run for Baltimore mayor in 1967 but saw him serve on the Baltimore City Council from 1959 to 1963. He was also involved in the horse racing industry, naming one of his horses after his former Orioles manager, Buck Showalter.

Peter Angelos leaves behind a remarkable legacy as a trailblazer in baseball ownership, a tenacious litigator fighting for the underdog, and a influential figure in Maryland’s business and political landscapes.