Pam Shriver just the secret weapon the Orioles need

John Steadman

August 04, 1993|By John Steadman

That the Baltimore Orioles have Pam Shriver and other interested parties paying their way into a vast ownership participation presents an enormous problem of identification, but not with Shriver. Her well-known face is easy to recognize in any crowd.

The Orioles, with Shriver, have an individual ready to exert a positive influence. She's a vibrant personality, endowed with charm, refinement, an engaging presence and superb athletic ability. The same can't be said about some of her fellow investors.

Depending on the list you consult, the Orioles may actually have more owners than players. Peter G. Angelos and William O. DeWitt Jr., the main men, formed an alliance that paid $173 million for the Orioles. It's an attention-getting transaction of mind-boggling proportions.

With so many in the investment picture it's a situation that may have to be remedied by asking each and every one of them to wear numbers on their backs. You can't tell an owner without a scorecard. Having Shriver in the deal is an excellent move. She's a modern Lady Baltimore. Pam also swings a tennis racket with effective authority and this is where she might be able to impart valuable input, if Angelos and DeWitt flash the green light.

Imagine an Oriole, say Cal Ripken, falling into a slump and being able to go right to the top for help. Shriver would have an exceptional empathy for him since she has been there herself -- experiencing a slump or two in her tennis career. She could talk to Cal about balance, proper positioning of his feet, moving into the pitch, making the proper transfer of weight and follow-through.

For years, going back well over a century, or since shortly after Doubleday created the game, cynics have looked at poor hitting teams and screamed, "go get a tennis racket." There's no time like the present for that to happen. Seeing an Oriole headed for home plate, with racket in hand, would be the best original stunt since team owner Bill Veeck utilized Eddie Gaedel, the 43-inch midget, as a pinch hitter for the St. Louis Browns.

Once and for all, it would satisfy the wailing from the stands to "try using a tennis racket." Certainly, if Shriver is putting up money to become a part of the Orioles' ownership, her talents and those of others should be immediately used. Angelos and DeWitt should ask each associate how he or she might be able to help the club.

Some of the Orioles may want to become writers and take up an easier calling in life. They'd enjoy a session with Tom Clancy, the internationally known author. Clancy, too, is buying into the team. He is a masterful storyteller with seven straight best-sellers to his credit -- which, in a literary way, is more remarkable than Ripken's consecutive-game streak.

Clancy could certainly instruct the Orioles on how to read the label on their bats so they would be in position to hold the grain "up" in an effort to cut down on the number of broken bats. After that, they would be on their own. In return, they could show him the proper way to slide, which foot to use to touch the bag when rounding the bases and other fine points of play.

However, if the Orioles had one of Shriver's Yonex tennis rackets it would give them an enormous advantage in hitting. The racket would easily adapt to being used for pulling the ball, taking the pitch to the opposite field or hitting ground balls with difficult-to-handle backspin. The possibilities are unlimited.

In addition to Shriver and Clancy, there's the erudite Jim McKay, once a standout reporter with The Evening Sun, who became a world-wide sports commentator for ABC. He has won more awards for his ability than all the Orioles combined. He also is an Orioles mogul. McKay, the epitome of a gentleman, could hold classes in the locker room to assist the players with their enunciation, pronunciation and appearance when they are being interviewed on television.

The players, in turn, could show McKay how to chew tobacco, spit, curse and bone a bat. A fair exchange. But the most significant advantage from a team standpoint is to have Shriver, a professional athlete, who makes her living swinging a tennis racket, in the board room of the Orioles and also down on the field working as a batting instructor.

The results might give the Orioles the advantage they need to regain the divisional lead.

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