Orioles lose McCraw to better offer Hitting coach to get $100,000 from Mets

October 22, 1991|By Kent Baker

The Baltimore Orioles are in the market for another coach because Tom McCraw joined the New York Mets yesterday, citing financial considerations.

McCraw, 50, signed to become the Mets' batting coach for an estimated $100,000, an offer he described as "substantially higher" than that made by the Orioles.

He is rejoining an organization for which he was the roving hitting instructor for three years and will work again with new Mets manager Jeff Torborg.

McCraw came to the Orioles from the Mets for the 1989 season.

"It's always a good feeling to know you're wanted," he said. "The Mets are like family to me. It's almost like coming home. Knowing most of the players like I do, I don't think it'll take long at all to get comfortable in New York."

Orioles manager John Oates had invited McCraw back after two others, pitching coach Al Jackson and first-base coach Curt Motton, had been fired from his staff. Oates cited the progress made by a number of hitters as the reason McCraw would be retained.

"That was a compliment; at least I took it that way," said McCraw. "It gives you a good feeling to know they're satisfied with your work and that they think you're an asset to the staff."

But money was another matter, although McCraw wouldn't get into specifics of the Orioles' offer. He said the club made what he believed to be a preliminary offer, but as time passed, he never heard another one.

"I'm not greedy, but I felt I deserved more," he said. "I didn't think it was a very good offer. I have a set of standards, too."

McCraw planned to call a number of the players before he left Baltimore and said he "hates to leave the friends I made here. But it's a business."

He added that the firing of manager Frank Robinson, who brought McCraw and Jackson into the organization, was not a factor.

"That didn't have any play," said McCraw. "Johnny wanted me on a basically new staff. That happened in San Francisco when Frank was fired and I was asked to stay on with Jim Davenport."

McCraw is familiar with young Mets hitters such as Kevin Elster, Keith Miller and Gregg Jefferies because he tutored them in the minors.

"I see young guys who haven't reached their potential," he said. "That will be my job . . . to help them. I'll be stressing fundamentals with them."

Orioles general manager Roland Hemond, in Atlanta for the World Series, said "a lot of people have been contacting us" about coaching positions because "there is quite a turnover in the majors this year."

But Hemond added that the Orioles are not prepared to announce any hirings and have not decided whether they will carry a five-man or six-man staff.

Only third-base coach Cal Ripken Sr. and bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks remain from Oates' staff last season.

"Until we close the staff, we won't make any announcements," Hemond said. "How many coaches we have will depend on whether we feel we can have the versatility we need with five men."

Hemond said the Orioles gave the Mets permission to talk to McCraw because the Mets had done the same for them.

"We can understand Tom's position," Hemond said. "He has a past affiliation with the Mets, and if they had had an opening in 1989, they would have promoted him then. But Bill Robinson was the hitting coach."

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