John Angelos: Perspective key to understanding

June 4th, 2020

A day after the Orioles released a statement quoting James Baldwin in denouncing racial injustice and discrimination, executive vice president John Angelos expanded on that sentiment and expressed optimism that Major League games would return this summer.

Speaking on ESPN Radio’s Spain & Company in a rare public appearance, Angelos said the goal in including Baldwin in the team’s statement was to “give the human perspective” in light of the nationwide protests that have resulted from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. One of the 20th century’s most influential writers, Baldwin famously addressed racial and social inequality in his work and was one of the civil rights movement’s leading figures.

“I would encourage people to go back and read the writings of James Baldwin and think about the challenges someone in his position had, as a young person trying to be an artist with all the disadvantages and systemic obstacles he faced in that time,” said Angelos, the club’s top official. “When you think about the problems African-Americans face, and minorities and women face, and those who are faced with multi-generational economic impoverishment, those are real obstacles in 2020 in many parts in our community. What must have that been like 60, 70, 80 years ago? I think James Baldwin being mentioned in our statement is there for a reason. It’s there to get people to think about what it’s like on the other side of the table, the other perspective.”

The Orioles also quoted Dr. Martin Luther King in their statement, which was released Tuesday and read in full:

“Nearly six decades ago, at another low point in our country’s ongoing struggle to understand and rectify the racial injustice our fellow Americans have endured since the inception of our nation, the author James Baldwin warned, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’

“Today, as our friends and neighbors experience the same mistreatment of generations ago in the form of engrained, unyielding and institutionally-discriminatory systems that deny justice and equality, and provide in their place a steady supply of brutalizing misconduct, compounded in some cases by voices that fan the flames of violence and racism, it is imperative that we face the past and present.

“Dr. King said, 'Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.'

"The entire Orioles family expresses solidarity with the families of all who have had their lives destroyed and communities disrupted by the forces of racial bias and violent abuse.

"With enduring understanding, empathy and a peaceful resolve, we are committed to advocate for the change our country needs today and to root out racism and prejudice of any kind as we strive to make a better America in the future.

"Black Lives Matter.”

MLB said it has “zero tolerance for racism and racial injustice” in its own statement, released Wednesday:

Angelos also said he felt an “obligation” for MLB to return this summer, citing the thousands of people who rely on the industry for work. The league and Players Association are currently negotiating what that would look like in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which halted MLB operations in mid-March.

“This isn’t just about players and partnership groups that own sports teams,” Angelos said. “This is about literally tens of thousands of people who rely and earn a living for their families who work for the clubs, and all the companies that support that. All the different folks that go into it. A lot of people rise and fall if we put this together and have a season, so I am optimistic, maybe because I think we owe it to those people, not to mention all the economic impact and tourism and so forth that sports creates. I am optimistic.

“I think the Commissioner’s Office is going to do everything they can, and I think the players want to play. There is no question we’re going to do it with safety first. We may not play as long of a season because the experts say you don’t want to be playing in November because of a potential resurgence of the virus. But I am very optimistic that will happen. I trust in the Commissioner’s Office and Players Association to get it done. It’s the right thing, so we should put our interim issues aside, make an agreement and move forward.”