Call-up major surprise for newest Oriole

SIDELIGHT

June 11, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

BOSTON -- The newest member of the Orioles was putting on a major-league uniform for the first time when a voice shot from across the clubhouse.

"Dostal, as soon as I meet you, can I have your tickets?" Brady Anderson said in search of extra complimentary tickets for last night's series opener at Fenway Park.

With that, Bruce Dostal was officially one of the boys. After eight years in the minor leagues, Dostal was being hit up for tickets from a major-league ballplayer.

He had arrived, seemingly from out of nowhere.

Can anyone remember an Oriole more anonymous than Bruce Dostal?

Four of Triple-A Rochester's outfielders were on the 40-man major-league roster, but Dostal was not one of them. As a result, the Orioles placed reliever Tom Wegmann on waivers to make room for Dostal. Wegmann cleared waivers and remains on the roster.

"This came from out of left field," said Dostal, a left-handed hitter. "I didn't expect it at all."

Dostal, 29, was hitting .283 in 40 games for Rochester. He played on a regular basis only when Damon Buford and Mark Smith were called to the majors at different times. He walked 30 times, had 24 strikeouts and stole five bases in five attempts. His addition to the roster gives the Orioles their only left-handed bat off the bench.

Dostal was selected in the 17th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1987 draft. He spent four years in the Dodgers organization and was drafted off their Triple-A roster by the Philadelphia Phillies. He made it to Triple-A, was released April 19, 1993 and signed May 5 by the Orioles.

He hit .296 for Rochester last season, not enough to get a September look from the Orioles, but enough to keep him from retiring.

Dostal said he was earning $3,700 a month at Rochester, which explains why he works in the mortgage business during off-seasons and would stop by a friend's mortgage company before games in Rochester to learn what he could about the trade.

"I thought about giving it up last winter," Dostal said. "My wife and I sat down and talked about it and decided I've got the rest of my life to work. It's been seven years, why not eight? As long as I felt I could still play, I wasn't going to quit. I figured I had a somewhere, somehow. I just didn't think it would be with Baltimore.

"I'm glad I went with my gut feeling," he said.

Dostal's wife, Lu Ann, works as a beautician.

"A minor-league salary doesn't cut it," Dostal said.

Dostal is 6 feet, 195 pounds, bats and throws left and has above-average speed. He stole 38 bases for Philadelphia's Double-A affiliate in Reading in 1991. A native of Montville, N.J., and a resident of West Orange, N.J., Dostal has been a leadoff hitter most of his minor-league career.

"He's a hard-nosed player with good knowledge of the game," Orioles assistant general manager Frank Robinson said. "He'll RTC work a pitcher for a base on balls. He knows the strike zone, and he runs the bases well."

He grew up rooting for the New York Yankees of Thurman Munson and Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles and Roy White.

"I've been a die-hard Yankees fan my whole life," Dostal said. "Now, I'm a die-hard Orioles fan."

And, at last, a major-leaguer.

"It would have been real easy to take a 9-to-5 job and say, 'Seven years of pro ball was great, but I'm just not going to make it,' " Dostal said. "Whether I'm here for three weeks, two or three days, or just a day, it makes the eight years worth it."

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