Keith Lupton, general manager of the Bowie Baysox, is a busy man. He not only has his own team to oversee, but also has been host to a large number of Orioles sent down on injury rehabilitation assignments. The Sun's Jason LaCanfora spoke with Lupton about the benefits of running a minor-league team located minutes from Camden Yards.
Q: Is it a big attendance boost when a major-leaguer rehabs in Bowie?
A: It's a big benefit if we know about it in time, so we can get the word out to the media. We would hope that an attendance increase would be the case, but we average around 6,000 fans, so it's hard to tell. If we were averaging 2,000 and we saw the attendance double when an Oriole came down, it would be a positive for us. We enjoy the rehab assignments because it's a real treat for the people who come out to our games.
Q: So, is the big benefit just having your parent club close by?
A: That has been a tremendous advantage for us. Years ago, we put teams in Frederick and Hagerstown, and what we saw was everybody draw more attendance. It's great because you can watch a guy develop into a major-league player. You can follow a guy from A ball right up to the big leagues. The players like that as well.
Q: Do the Bowie players have an added incentive to play hard, since Baltimore is so close?
A: It's a big incentive when a guy like Scott Klingenbeck gets called up to the majors from Bowie. It gives the other guys a chance to see that they are just a 45-minute car ride away from the majors. Everyone should see the excitement when a minor-league player gets called up for the first time.
Q: Do the major-leaguers and minor-leaguers coexist peacefully?
A: I don't see any noticeable differances in the Baltimore players when they come down here. The Baysox players watch them to see what they can be doing to get there. For them, it's an opportunity to play on an equal basis with a major-leaguer. I mean, if Jeffrey Hammonds is in left, and you're playing center, you are equal with a major-leaguer in that game. It's a learning experience.
Q: Do any Orioles bring a major-league attitude down to Bowie?
A: We've never had a major-leaguer come down here and really big-league it. The minor-leaguers have more of a tendency to do that. Sometimes a guy gets a couple of major-league games under his belt, and then all of a sudden he is a big-leaguer. But, most of the guys handle success very well.
Q: Do you have any particularly memorable rehab experiences?
A: I remember in 1994 we played in Baltimore and Mike Mussina was rehabbing with us for a couple of games, and afterward he bought food for all the players and had it sent to them. That was a major upgrade from the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches the minor-leaguers are used to. That was a real touch of class on Mike's part.