Perdue lands in Kirk's coop Chicken magnate eyes Shore team

November 17, 1993|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer

Chicken magnate Frank Perdue has joined an investment group that owns two minor-league baseball teams in Maryland and hopes to locate a third in the poultry producer's back yard on the Eastern Shore.

Peter Kirk, chairman of Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership, said yesterday that Perdue would not be involved in the daily operations of baseball teams that the group owns in Frederick and Bowie. He wouldn't disclose the amount of money that Perdue has invested.

Kirk did describe Perdue as "a longtime baseball enthusiast," and said he's keenly interested in returning a minor-league franchise to the Eastern Shore. Perdue's company has its headquarters in Salisbury, which once had a minor-league club.

"He's a lifelong Eastern Shore resident and he remembers the old Eastern Shore leagues with very fond memories. If it's feasible, we'd like to be a part of bringing professional baseball back," Kirk said.

Perdue did not return a phone call to his office.

Kirk and his partners have been focused on expanding their baseball holdings for several years. Both their current teams -- the Single-A Frederick Keys and the Double-A Bowie Baysox -- are affiliated with the Orioles, and the group's often-stated goal is to add a Triple-A franchise that would be based in Maryland and tied to the Orioles.

The group could reach the goal in a couple of ways, each involving the addition of a third minor-league club on the Eastern Shore. Kirk said his group might try to buy a franchise in the Single-A South Atlantic League and move it to the Eastern Shore. Another possibility would involve landing a Triple-A franchise for Bowie, then shifting the Double-A team to Frederick and a Single-A club to the Eastern Shore.

Kirk said he hopes to have a team somewhere on the Eastern Shore for the 1995 season, and he said Perdue's backing might help it happen. "He'll be playing a role. Obviously, he has the community contacts," Kirk said.

The investors haven't decided on an exact location for a proposed franchise, but Kirk said: "We'd want a central location because it would have to be a regional Eastern Shore team."

Perdue's name has been linked to another sports venture recently. Last week, he acknowledged looking into a bid for an NFL expansion franchise in Baltimore, but that effort apparently ended when Gov. William Donald Schaefer decided to endorse a bid led by businessman Alfred Lerner.

Kirk said Perdue's football interest never entered into their discussions, saying: "That was totally separate from our arrangement."

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