Maryland Baseball plans to restructure, sell clubs

Baysox, Keys, Shorebirds are put on the market

Minor-league notebook

February 18, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership has decided to restructure its operations, a move that has placed the Bowie Baysox, Frederick Keys and Delmarva Shorebirds on the market.

The five owners, Maryland Baseball chief executive Peter Kirk, chicken magnate Frank Perdue, Hugh Schindel, Pete Simmons and John Daskalakis, are selling to devote more time to the new Aberdeen franchise in the Atlantic League, to expand the company's consulting interests and to concentrate on other enterprises throughout baseball.

"This will free me personally to work with this partnership with Cal [Ripken]," said Kirk, referring to the $26 million Aberdeen complex scheduled to start this summer. "And we can get into more of the advisory and facilities management business."

Maryland Baseball manages the Jupiter, Fla., spring-training facility and food service operations at the Patriot Center at George Mason University and for the Myrtle Beach, S.C., minor-league team. In addition, the corporation has been hired by Major League Baseball for consulting work on the next exhibition game in Cuba.

Kirk has notified the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (minors) of his intentions and stressed that his company will remain headquartered in Bowie. No staff changes are expected at the three clubs to be sold and Maryland Baseball will continue to be involved in their day-to-day operations.

"We're exploring our options and hopefully, something happens quickly," said Kirk. "Ideally, there will be one buyer for all three teams. Two of the three people we're dealing with would like to buy all three."

Kirk added that the Aberdeen franchise is not for sale "because it is owned in partnership with Cal. This is the most exciting project I've ever been involved in, a one of a kind.

"And we're still working with the renovations to come at Frederick. But we are going forward. There may be some other teams we want to invest in and some communities we can help to get baseball. We're going to be a service company."

Evans is Aberdeen manager

Former major-league slugger Darrell Evans was announced as the manager of the Aberdeen club, which opens play at Thomas Run Park at Harford Community College on April 28.

This will be the fourth season of minor-league managing for Evans, including 1998 with the Single-A Wilmington Blue Rocks in the Carolina League. Last summer, he guided the Huntsville (Ala.) Stars in the Double-A Southern League.

"We've got a lot of work to do here," Evans said yesterday at a luncheon in Aberdeen. "We'll have players here with an opportunity to get back to the majors, so we'll have a team that plays hard. We'll have some that are one day away from not playing anymore, who want to be in the league."

Evans hit 414 home runs in a 21-year career in the majors. Included among his accomplishments are the oldest player (38) to win a home run title (40 with Detroit in 1985) and one of only two players to hit 40 home runs -- Mark McGwire is the other -- in both leagues. He was on base for Atlanta when Hank Aaron hit his historic 715th homer in 1974.

After retiring, he served as a hitting instructor for a number of clubs, both in the majors and minors.

No coaches have been named, although Evans said he wants "a pitching coach who has major-league experience."

Aberdeen in home stretch

Kirk said "of about 75 things" that can impede development of a new franchise, "Aberdeen is down to three."

He cited final approval of a $7 million grant from the state, bids to contractors and sub-contractors who will build within the budget for stadium construction and support from the local business community.

"It is also critically important that our operation here shows how role models ought to be. I guarantee that off the field, they'll be quality people and a credit to Harford County," he said.

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