Boog Powell is coming back, not to pinch-hit for the Orioles at the age of 50 but to operate a barbecue stand at the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
"Boog's Corner," it'll be called. A portable stand almost directly behind the right-field bleachers, on Eutaw Plaza between the warehouse and the stadium, it will offer some of Powell's favorites, including pit beef,pork chop sandwiches, barbecued beans, cole slaw and, yes, Miller Lite beer.
The big man himself will be on the scene to supervise. Powell and his wife Jan, longtime Florida residents, have rented a town house here for the season, and he vows to be at almost every home game.
"I've been on the road for 13 years with Miller, so this is a chance to stay in one place for a while," said Powell, who makes appearances and does promotions work for the brewery. "I'm not going to make as many appearances as I have in the past. It'll be like coming home."
Only when the Orioles are on the road will Powell make occasional out-of-town appearances, for Miller and ARA, the concessionaire at the new park. He'll travel to Pennsylvania and the far reaches of Maryland.
An Oriole for 14 of his 17 years in the majors, Powell rented a house on Medford Road near Memorial Stadium during 10 of his seasons in Baltimore. He had been interested in barbecuing since he was a boy, and his Medford Road neighbors often picked up the scent of his finely developed skills long after games had ended.
As Powell recalls it: "They'd holler, 'Hey, Boog, we have to get up in the morning.' I'd say, 'If I had to get up, I wouldn't be out here.' That's how I kept my weight up during the season, eating barbecue."
His weight always was a matter of intense interest, partly because the large first baseman liked to keep it a secret from everyone, including the club. It was listed for years as 250, but many believed it often approached 300. It is a secret no longer.
"Two-ninety and holding," said Powell, who was the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1970 and retired in 1977 with 339 home runs.
Six years ago, a recipe book under his name, "Mesquite Cookery," waspublished by McGraw Hill. Powell got the rights to have it republished by a company in Tennessee. It will, of course, be on sale at "Boog's Corner."
"It has tips for beginners, from how to start the fire to more complicated things," Powell said.
He will not do the actual cooking for "Boog's Corner," leaving that to ARA. The concessionaire will cook the meat and then slice and re-warm it at the stand.
"Boog probably won't serve the food," said Jay Boyle, ARA's general manager at the new park. "He's so personable, he'll spend most of thetime talking to fans and signing autographs. He'll supervise the stand and greet guests."
"Official greeter at Eutaw Plaza," Powell said.
For years, he owned and operated a marina in Key West but recently sold it. He drolly describes himself as a "professional consultant on anything, anywhere" who makes appearances for Westinghouse, National Rental Car and Hardee's in addition to Miller Lite.
"I'm just for hire," he said. "At golf tournaments, special events, you name it."