Wife of Orioles owner Peter Angelos picks a side in dispute between her sons
BALTIMORE – Peter Angelos’ wife Georgia on Wednesday became the latest and arguably most crucial voice to weigh in on the side of her son, John Angelos, as the head of the Orioles, pushing back against a lawsuit filed last week by her other son.
With family patriarch and Os owner Peter Angelos ailing and no longer managing his holdings, Louis Angelos, 52, sued his younger brother and mother last week over what he said were John Angelos’ efforts to seize control of the team.
But in a statement the Orioles released Wednesday, Georgia Kousouris Angelos asserted her role as the voice of her husband and cast support to older son John, 54.
“I, alone, have the authority to manage the family’s assets and make decisions,” Georgia Angelos said.
“Since I appointed John Angelos as chairman and CEO of the Orioles in 2020, he has led the organization thoughtfully and effectively, including through unprecedentedly challenging times,” she said. “John has my full faith, as well as the trust and confidence of Major League Baseball.”
Peter Angelos, now 92, had designated his wife to act on his behalf, according to a power of attorney transfer that was among the documents Louis Angelos included when he filed his lawsuit. The document, signed in October 2017 as Peter Angelos’ health began deteriorating, said that should his wife no longer be capable of managing her affairs, the power of attorney would go to the couple’s two sons, acting “jointly or separately.”
In the lawsuit filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court last Thursday, Louis Angelos said his mother wanted to sell the Orioles, adding credence to a rumor that has long swirled around the team, particularly in the wake of Peter Angelos’ exit from its helm. The lawsuit said John Angelos “has done everything in his power to stall and, ultimately, to stall and, ultimately, thwart plans to sell the club,” single-handedly torpedoing “one highly credible group of buyers.”
The suit reinforced another rumor with an inference that John Angelos’ consolidation of control over the team could allow him to move the team to Tennessee, where he lives in Nashville with his country music singer-songwriter wife.
But on Monday, John Angelos denied the Orioles were going anywhere. In a statement also released by the team, John Angelos repeated a prior assertion that the Os will remain in Baltimore “as long as Fort McHenry is standing watch over the Inner Harbor.” The statement was silent on the subject of selling the team, as it was on the fact that his brother had sued him.
But Georgia Angelos’ statement began by denouncing “the false and painful claims that have been alleged in the lawsuit that my son, Louis, has brought against me and my older son, John.
“I want to set the record straight,” she said.
Additionally, the Maryland Stadium Authority, the team’s landlord at Camden Yards, told The Baltimore Sun that it recognized John Angelos as the team’s CEO. Citing their “excellent working relationship,” the authority said it was continuing negotiations with John Angelos on a new lease to keep the Orioles in town.
The team is in its final year of a lease that includes a clause that expressly bars “the relocation of the Baltimore Orioles Major League Baseball Team from Baltimore, Maryland,” sweet words in a city haunted by its loss on a snowy night in 1984 of their beloved Colts football team.
At issue is $600 million in bonds that the General Assembly authorized and Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law for improvements to Camden Yards, along with the same amount for Ravens Stadium. The bonds cannot be issued without a lease, and the lease must run long enough to pay off the bonds with the longest term.
While there is no guarantee a new lease would contain the same no-relocation clause in the current one, the stadium authority says such clauses are common in similar agreements. The lease terms would apply to the new owner should the club be sold, according to the authority.
The family fireworks have generated much attention, as Orioles Nation speculated on what it means for the team, who for all their losing ways in recent years manages to keep its grip on local hearts.
Georgia Angelos noted her deep roots in town, saying she was “born and raised in Northeast Baltimore, within walking distance of Memorial Stadium, and attending city public schools: PS 50, PS 49 and Eastern High School.
“I attended the first Orioles Opening Day in 1954,” she said, going on to credit her husband and his partners for restoring local ownership when they bought the team four decades later. That avoided, she said, “the constant threat of relocation that had taken the Colts away from Baltimore.
“Any suggestion that Peter, John, or I would explore moving the club is false and intentionally divisive,” she said.
Fans should feel reassured by the statement, said Alan M. Rifkin, the former outside counsel to the Orioles.
“She is and always has been a pillar of honesty and sincerity,” he told The Sun. “The public and Orioles fans should take great comfort in her continuing commitment to the city.”
Georgia Angelos’ statement rejects the allegations made by Louis Angelos in his suit. He describes his brother as plotting to get rid of lawyers and team officials who were loyal to his father and replacing them with “yes men” that would allow him to exert total control. To do that, he intimidated and confused his mother and got her to agree to amendments to the trust that Peter Angelos created for his holdings.
Louis Angelos’ attorney, Jeffrey E. Nusinov, previously decried John Angelos’ statement, in which John Angelos said he “was appointed Chairman and CEO according to my parents’ expressed wishes.” Nusinov could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
The suit also claimed John Angelos co-opted a lawyer, Chris Jones, into working solely for his rather than the family’s interests. John Angelos’ wife, Margaret Valentine, took Jones’ daughter, an aspiring country-singer, under her wing, which resulted in her getting her gigs to perform in Camden Yards.
But Georgia Angelos defended Jones’ “professionalism and integrity,” saying he was a friend and invaluable in estate and Orioles planning.
“Chris and his family as well as my son, John, and his family are owed an apology,” she said.
She also expressed regret to the Orioles staff and, “most importantly, devoted Orioles’ fans,” over the public airing of a battle within her normally private family.
“I have always believed,” she said, “that family disputes and concerns should remain among family members.
“I look forward to putting this matter behind us all.”