Ross Grimsley considers it an amusing coincidence that he's managing the Amarillo Dillas in the independent Texas-Louisiana League.
Near the end of his pitching career, when he was trying to catch on again with the Orioles and was working out in Baltimore, he told a Cleveland writer who asked what he was doing that he was raising armadillos in Cockeysville.
"I wasn't, of course, but the papers picked it up and it went all over the country," Grimsley recalled with a chuckle. "Now here I am, managing the Amarillo Dillas."
The left-hander, who won 124 games in an 11-year career that ended in 1982, is not the only ex-Oriole managing in the 2-year-old league. Wayne Krenchicki, 40, an Orioles infielder from 1979 to 1981, is directing the Tyler Wildcatters after four years of managing in the Milwaukee Brewers' system.
"Ross' team is trashing everybody," Krenchicki said, noting that Amarillo has a substantial North Division lead with the start of the playoffs barely a week away.
Grimsley, 45, was a pitching coach in the Seattle Mariners' organization before the Dillas hired him last season. While his wife, Byrd, occasionally flies from Baltimore -- their home for 15 years -- for a visit, Grimsley is living in a half-trailer off the Dillas' clubhouse.
Dillas general manager Cliff Dochterman calls Grimsley him the "Pied Piper of Amarillo." The Dillas lead the league in attendance with a 3,500 average.
"Ross is the biggest hero," Dochterman said. "He devotes so much time to clinics and youth games, and being friendly and signing autographs. This is what major-league baseball needs, people like Ross. He's a tremendous instructor. He's not overbearing, and the players respond to him."
When he was with the Orioles from 1974 to 1977 and again in 1982, Grimsley kept a jug of Beagle Oil in his locker. It's a liniment that he believed cooled his arm, and some of his pitchers use it now.
"When the story hit the papers that I was using Beagle Oil, I got letters telling me how awful I was, thinking it came from dogs," he said. " 'How can you kill those poor beagles and rub their oil on your arm?' "
Krenchicki, whose Wildcatters are last in the four-team North, has fond memories of his Orioles seasons. Good teams. Large crowds. "Wild" Bill Hagy leading the cheers.
"Winning and a great pitching staff, that's what I remember," Krenchicki said.
Next: A blazing fastball and pranks in the bullpen and clubhouse were his hallmarks.