Kirk group keeps fields as well as teams

Groundskeeper Cook hired to help minor-league teams here, consult for others

Minor-league notebook

January 23, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership is branching out into stadium management and maintenance.

The owners of the Bowie Baysox, Frederick Keys and Delmarva Shorebirds have hired Murray Cook, former major-league groundskeeper and recently manager of the Disney Sports Complex in Florida, to oversee their Ballpark Services division, which will be available to service facilities throughout the country.

Chief executive officer Peter Kirk said Cook will concentrate first on "running our facilities, but he has also been contacted by St. Louis and Montreal to run their new [spring training] complex in Jupiter, Fla."

Cook also has been contacted by the Houston Astros about their new ballpark and by Salem, Va., which is renovating its Single-A facility.

"This is a great concept," Kirk said. "Teams can sign a contract and Murray can bring people in when he needs them to work on certain projects.

"It will save teams money because they won't have to have permanent help and create better performance. We can take a lot off these teams' shoulders."

Cook has vast experience in the field. He also operated the West Palm Beach training complex in Florida and instructed the Russians on how to build a pitching mound during a tour of the Soviet Union 10 years ago.

According to Kirk, the Pittsburgh Pirates also are looking for consultants in this area and are talking with Cook and Orioles groundskeeper Paul Zwaska.

"We hope to spread this out to wherever," Kirk said. "Major league, minor league. This can be a big thing."

Miller: No time to fail

At the annual winter banquets of the Baysox and Keys this week, Orioles manager Ray Miller reiterated his belief in a strong minor-league system.

Miller said that prospects today have to be ready when they get to the top because their every move is being scrutinized.

"You can't bring kids in anymore and give them a chance to fail," he said. "They have to be an impact player or they get buried. One thing is sure: You have to develop your own pitching because there isn't any out there unless the price is too high.

"The right direction to go is to have three out of four members of your roster be people who played at Bowie."

Et cetera

Bowie's Prince George's Stadium will feature a renovation of the Chesapeake Room on the upper level of the first base side to handle gatherings of 50 to 75 persons. The Baysox also are adding a nine-hole miniature golf course on the third base side. First baseman Calvin Pickering was honored as Bowie's Most Valuable Player. Second baseman/shortstop Jerry Hairston won the award at Frederick despite playing only half a season there. Arundel High second baseman John McCurdy was given a scholar-athlete award at Bowie.

Pub Date: 1/23/99

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