- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Anna Benson has one thing in common with Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, at least: They are both horse fans.

“I have heard he has a great interest in horses,” Benson says. “I love horses myself. I am hoping maybe we could go horse riding. I am not sure if he rides or what, but if he does, I would love to go horse riding with him.”

That would be a sight: Peter Angelos and Anna Benson horseback riding together.

Angelos’ interest, however, lies in horse racing, not riding. And the chances of Angelos and the wife of new Orioles pitcher Kris Benson having much else in common is a long shot. Very long.

Those who know the Orioles owner suggest he is a bit of a prude. Anna decidedly is not. Angelos has been reluctant to allow the Orioles to accept advertising from Hooters restaurants. Anna is a pistol-packing ex-stripper best known for salacious comments and low-cut outfits.

Kris was traded to the Orioles from the New York Mets last month. Some observers believe the odds are slim that both Bensons will finish the season in Baltimore.

“I don’t think they will make it out of spring training,” one former club official says.

Another is more optimistic.

“I think it could become an issue if [Kris] is not performing well or if she does or said something dramatic,” he says.

That might depend on the definition of dramatic.

When Kris was traded to the Orioles, Anna declared she was looking forward to “christening the parking lot” at Camden Yards. “That was a joke,” she says.

She was criticized last year for appearing in a low-cut Santa costume at a team Christmas party at which children were present.

In a “Scarlett Letter” published on her Web site, www.annabenson.net, she advocated gun ownership and signed the missive “lock and load, Anna ‘The cocked gun’ Benson.” In another letter, she attacked People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and signed off, “Anna ‘Animal Murderer’ Benson.”

While Kris was with the Mets, she negotiated with Playboy to pose in the magazine, though the shoot fell through. When Kris was traded, she publicly criticized newly acquired Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado for his refusal to stand during the playing of “God Bless America” at games.

Of her talks with Playboy and the Mets’ reaction to them, she says, “How are they going to sit there and say it’s so controversial when they sign someone like Delgado who turns his back on the flag?”

Her politics are as conservative as her approach is subtle.

On her Web site, she wrote a brutal condemnation of filmmaker Michael Moore: “You are a pariah to our nation, the fat kid who got beat up by the jocks at school, and this has formulated your hatred for America.”

She also states her strong support for the right to bear arms, citing Gandhi. Yes, that Gandhi.

“Even Gandhi wrote that ‘among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.’ And who can dispute that Gandhi the Gunner was a great wise man?”

The Orioles, however, didn’t trade for Anna. They traded for Kris, a quiet, 31-year-old country boy who went 10-8 with a 4.13 ERA last year.

Anna says she is not concerned about the reception she will get in Baltimore from the fans or Angelos, who once clashed with the wife of former Orioles manager Davey Johnson because he perceived her as too aggressive.

“I know Jim Duquette,” Anna says of the former Mets executive who now is an Orioles vice president. “He is one of my close friends, and he gets what I am doing.”

And what is that?

“This is all about entertainment. I’m trying to entertain,” she says. “Baseball is boring: 162 games a year become monotonous. I thought this would be kind of a cool way to establish a personality and to play a game. People love it. They love to hate me, and they love to love me. I get thousands of e-mails.

“I have gotten thousands of e-mails from fans in Baltimore, and only a few of them don’t like me. I am asking people to be patient and watch what I have to unfold. Don’t go judging me the first five seconds you hear my name. You really don’t know anything about me or what I do, my struggles or my dreams. Just be patient before you judge me.”

She has less patience with the people who run the game.

“These men are out to make money and win the World Series,” Anna says. “I think they could care less about me. I don’t think Major League Baseball really cares about what I do.”

And later: “When Major League Baseball starts writing me a check, then they can tell me what to do. They can tell me to be quiet and all those things.”

She is not about to be quiet now, not when her “career” — in essence, creating the persona of the former-stripper-turned-outspoken-baseball-wife — is taking off.

She will be on the cover of the April issue of FHM magazine, which named her as one of its “100 Sexiest Women” in 2005. She raised her profile by playing in the World Series of Poker last year and now has a gambling Web site called www.golddiggerpoker.com. (“That’s my poker name. It is my way of poking fun at everybody for poking fun at me,” she said.) And she has a reality TV show in the works called “Anna on Top.”

But while she says much of her act is just that — an act — she says she is serious about her charitable work. Anna and Kris are involved in a number of charitable organizations and have started one called Benson’s Battalion, a nonprofit group dedicated to raising money for police, fire and emergency service equipment.

And then there is baseball. The Orioles come to Washington on May 19 for the start of a three-game series, and Anna plans to be there.

“I haven’t been to D.C. in years,” she says. “I want to see the Smithsonian and all the other attractions. I am thinking of inviting some politicians to that game to join me. Who knows, maybe I could get George W. to come out to a game with me. I would love it.”

Whether Kris Benson actually makes that trip may depend on whether Peter Angelos is a fan of the Anna Benson show.

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