A rift among brothers vying to control the Baltimore Orioles. A power struggle behind the team’s firing of beloved former outfielder Brady Anderson. A changing of the guard that’s credited with the club’s resounding turnaround year.
New court records detail the family drama that has played out behind the scenes of the Baltimore Orioles in recent years. The revelations come amid the ongoing legal battle between the two sons of ailing, longtime Orioles owner Peter Angelos.
With a lawsuit filed in June in Baltimore County Circuit Court, younger son Louis Angelos accused his brother and mother of pushing him out of the family fortune and baseball team.
His mother, Georgia Angelos, filed her own suit and accused Louis of manipulating his ailing father and stealing the family’s famous law firm. While the litigation has mostly centered on family disputes, documents filed Tuesday in response to Louis’ lawsuit reveal the drama behind some of the Orioles’ biggest moves.
Changing of the guard credited with team’s turnaround
The Baltimore Orioles lost 115 games in 2018 and the team was widely panned as one of the worst in baseball.
By then, longtime owner Peter Angelos had collapsed of heart trouble and his health worsened. Court records filed by attorneys for his wife state the 93-year-old Angelos has advanced dementia.
With her husband out of work, Georgia tapped her older son, John, to lead the team, according to her lawyers. They blamed Peter for some of the team’s past failures.
“After years of bad press that Peter micromanaged baseball operations at the Orioles, Georgia wanted to create distance between her family and the ‘baseball side’ of the organization,” her attorneys wrote. “John similarly abhorred any management structure other than an organizational pyramid with full delegation of authority to a staff of trained professionals and executives, headed by a General Manager responsible for all day-to-day decision making.”
In November 2018, the Orioles hired a new general manager, Mike Elias. According to court records, Elias was pursued aggressively by the San Francisco Giants, but he accepted a job with the Orioles on condition that he would report to John only.
“Why? Because Elias and John shared a vision for the club wherein the owners of the team would take a step back, and the General Manager would be given the freedom to reimagine and rebuild the baseball side of the organization,” Georgia’s attorneys wrote. “This understanding was crucial to Elias’s decision to come to the Orioles — a club long plagued by anti-organizational culture — so much so that John, with Georgia’s approval, codified these delegated rights in Elias’s employment contract.”
According to the court filings, Louis “bristled” at the hiring of Elias and interfered by demanding to be in charge of baseball operations while repeatedly calling and texting Elias to ask him what players the team might sign. An attorney for Louis declined to comment on the allegations.
The inference by Louis caused such concern for Georgia that she worried her son would violate the rights in Elias’ contract, her attorneys wrote.
In August 2020, she appointed a new board for team; John became chairman and CEO. She excluded from the board her younger son “as a result of Lou’s troublesome behavior,” her attorneys wrote.
Georgia credits John’s hands-off leadership style with the success of the team that boasts a winning record this year and has seen a surge of attendance at games.
“John proved to be a highly capable CEO,” her attorneys wrote. “John’s management style is diametrically different from his father’s. While Peter was a one-man show who disliked formal management structures and relied primarily on his own judgment, John is the opposite. John has recruited a team of veteran executives to serve on the Senior Leadership Team for BOLP [Baltimore Orioles Limited Partnership] with the express purpose of advising John and helping guide the team to success.”
Behind the firing of Brady Anderson
A former All-Star outfielder for the Orioles, Brady Anderson was popular among fans in Baltimore and was hired as vice president of baseball operations. Louis and Anderson were also close friends, according to court records. Louis unilaterally raised Anderson’s pay from $300,000 to $900,000 in 2018, Georgia’s lawyers wrote.
“Anderson did not fit Elias’s vision for the club,” her lawyers wrote. “Elias was looking for coaches who were driven by analytics and data, which Anderson was not.”
Louis, however, insisted Orioles keep Anderson on staff, according to the lawyers. Elias sought compromise and moved Anderson to a job as an outside consultant for a reduction in pay.
“While Anderson agreed, he felt slighted, a sentiment he could not hide and which eventually led to his termination,” Georgia’s lawyers wrote. “Elias’s ― not John’s — decision to terminate Anderson was purely business, but Lou took it as a personal affront.”
Anderson parted ways with the team without public explanation after the 2019 season.
Family took steps for sale of interest in team
While John has publicly repeated that the Orioles will remain in Baltimore “as long as Fort McHenry is standing watch over the Inner Harbor,” the court filings continue to suggest the family has taken steps to eventually sell its interest in the team.
The latest reference came Tuesday from Georgia’s lawyers, who wrote that John took steps to prepare for an “eventual liquidating event” by assembling the financial information of the team to have ready for any potential investors, and that he hired an investment banking team.
Attorneys for Georgia wrote that her husband did not believe the family should own the Orioles forever.
“Although Peter felt the Orioles should be sold on his death so Georgia could enjoy the great wealth they had amassed together, he felt that decision was ultimately Georgia’s to make.”