BALTIMORE – John Angelos is no fan of President Donald Trump and wouldn’t want him throwing out the first pitch at a Baltimore Oriole’s game – unless the Commander-in-Chief apologizes for what the team’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer calls troubling statements about immigrants, women, the disabled and others.
While he said it would be up to the ownership group of the team – led by his father, Peter, a major donor to the Democratic party and candidates – to decide whether Trump would get the first pitch owner, that he doesn’t want him.
Speaking to the B-More Opinionated podcast, he said he was disturbed by Trump’s campaign rhetoric, that has continued into the Presidency, where the President wants to bar people from seven largely Muslim countries from the United States and has taken verbal shots about race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and the disabled.
“People in those communities have been spoken about very negatively by a candidate and now President,” he said.
“It’s really incumbent upon any individual who leads the country to step away from those types of statements, to apologize for those statements and retract them,” Angelos said.
“And then to turn the page, and then to move forward in embracing their community, all parts of that community. Until that happens, it wouldn’t be my preference to have the President come throw a pitch. But that’s up to the ownership as to what they would like to do there.”
Throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game is fraught with some backlash potential – especially if the hurler can’t hit the mark and isn’t athletically-inclined enough to find the plate from sixty feet, six inches away, setting up some potential for mocking.
John Angelos — who is also the president of the MASN television network — hasn’t shied away from speaking out, especially on issues close to his heart and his family, who come from an immigrant family from the island of Karpathos in Greece.
Earlier, he talked to the New York Times about his team’s use of Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land fabled folk song at Friday night home games.
“There is a strain of progressivism in American life, and if we can reflect it, I think that’s a good thing,” he told the Times.
He is a critical part of the Orioles’ public face, managing the day-to-day business operations overseeing marketing and advertising, branding and promotion, major corporate sponsorship sales and ticket sales, governmental and public affairs, media and public relations, ballpark facility design and management, event operations, concessions rights negotiation and self-operation.
In today’s world, he said sports and politics are intersecting because of the tumultuous and social media speed-of-thought, exacerbated by Trump’s election.
“What we’ve seen in sports over the last year and a half to me is really interesting,” Angelos said. “Because (athletes have been) leaders in speaking up for rights, speaking up in outrage about things that have been said and done politically — not only by the President or the candidate, but about other important things like the Dakota Pipeline issue, like the most recent immigration (stories,), sending potentially shock troops through neighborhoods to chase people around, which is outrageous on every level.”
He praised athletes for speaking up individually, such as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the National Anthem to protest the treatment of African-Americans and said corporate and sports leaders need to follow that model.
“Now admittedly, those people arguably have time and certainly the resources to be outspoken,” Angelos went on, “but nonetheless, many of their peers have not been doing that. And I would say even fewer people in corporate boardrooms and teams and leagues and so forth are speaking out. So I think that that says a lot about the kind of activism that you’re talking about.”
Unlike his father, Angelos is apolitical and said he blames the two-party system and both Republicans and Democrats for some sad state of affairs in the lives of many people who are disenchanted and disenfranchised.
He saved most of his ammunition for Trump, who is reveling in making enemies and daring challenges against his unabashed bashing of almost anyone who doesn’t agree with him or think his ideas are brilliant.
“The first step to doing extremely well is for this person, this individual who is in the office of the Presidency to retract all the outrageous things that have been said and simply do one thing: apologize,” Angelos said, not Trump’s style.
“You don’t say those things about women, you don’t say those things about different ethnic groups, different national origins, people who are disabled, all that. And if you do say them, you’re a big enough person to withdraw them and apologize,” he said.
He added: “The other thing that needs to happen here is more corporate CEOs and people that want to be community leaders … need to stand up and not normalize and not legitimize and not whitewash that kind of conduct. I wouldn’t accept that from a Democrat or a Republican or somebody from outer space.”
He said demeaning statements from national leaders are “incredibly debilitating to the country,” and that such language “emboldens” and “radicalizes” people who “have some of those proclivities.”
Going further – with some critics, including psychiatrists wondering if Trump is a narcissist or has some disorder, Angelos said racial biases – such as those he said he thinks Trump holds are “forms of psychological imbalance.”
Stepping away from sports, he said America’s political system is a mess that needs revision to keep people involved and not divided.
“What we’ve got to do is change this political system, because that’s why we’re here. The duopoly, because that’s why we’re here. This duopoly of parties is absurd, and it’s totally overwhelmed the political process and taken away peoples’ votes. But until that happens, I’ll meet you out there, and we’ll do a little yelling and a little advocating.”
Peter Angelos is 11th in TNH’s 50 Wealthiest Greek-Americans 2017 List. Angelos was born in Pittsburgh, PA on July 4, 1929, to immigrants from the island of Karpathos. He went to Baltimore at age 11, where his family settled in the Highlandtown section.