Owning teams a major-league thrill Kirk's group seeks Md. triple play

July 21, 1991|By Mark Hyman fPB

The first thing Peter Kirk wants you to know about him is that he'd rather you didn't know, or even ask.

"In life and baseball, I'm a big believer that your actions should speak, not interviews," he said.

Lately, however, it has become next to impossible for Kirk to stay out of the public eye. Quietly, he and his partners, Hugh Schindel and Terry Randall, have cornered the market on minor-league baseball in Maryland.

The owners, partners in Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership, own the Class AA Hagerstown Suns and the Class A Frederick Keys, both of which are affiliates of the Baltimore Orioles. In September, they expect to learn whether they will pull off the full house of minor-league baseball when two expansion Class AAA franchises are awarded. If successful, Kirk's group would put its team in the Annapolis-Bowie area.

How do you become a minor-league mogul? Here's one man's story.

Kirk, 44, heads a Columbia real-estate development company. He has played baseball and watched it, loving both. About 10 years ago, he stumbled upon a baseball book, "Good Enough to Dream," the subject of which was author Roger Kahn's travails as owner for a year of the Class A Utica (N.Y.) Blue Sox.

Kirk read the book. And it spoke to him.

"I came into the office raving about it," he said. "After two weeks, an associate said, 'I'm tired of hearing how great the minor leagues are. If you are interested, I know the owners of the Hagerstown Suns. Let me work out an introduction.' "

Kirk met the Hagerstown owners who, it turned out, were not interested in selling. Then. Several years later, one investor was interested in getting out. Kirk finally had his in.

Kirk's role as minor-league entrepreneur has mushroomed since. He is the chairman of the board of the teams he owns. He also serves as spokesman. Randall, a Hagerstown accountant, handles money matters. Schindel, a paper-company executive, is president of the baseball partnership.

Kirk has had some memorable moments as team owner. Last month, President Bush attended a Frederick Keys game and sat with the owner. "It was very heavy at first. Then he started apologizing for imposing on the fans," Kirk said of that night.

More often, Kirk says, the thrill simply is being in baseball.

"There's tremendous satisfaction in just being a part of it," he said. "Occasionally, I'll be wandering through the stands. Someone will come up, shake my hand and say, 'Thanks for bringing baseball here.' Well, I only played a role. Still, what a great feeling."

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