Upbeat Dauer has positive interview

Still an Oriole at heart, he eschews the negative


October 16, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Rich Dauer played on two World Series teams for the Orioles and was one of the most sure-handed second basemen in baseball, but walking to the B&O warehouse to interview for the team's managerial post yesterday was something entirely different.

"It was probably the most nervous I've ever been," Dauer said. "When you have an opportunity like this to fulfill your dreams, it's very nerve-racking at first. And then when the competition started, it was very fulfilling."

Dauer, 51, seemed like a long shot to get the job when the Orioles opened their search by interviewing Hall of Fame slugger Eddie Murray and bench coach Sam Perlozzo.

But Dauer thrust himself right into the mix yesterday by laying down his positive, if untested, managerial philosophy.

When it was over, Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan summed up the Murray, Perlozzo and Dauer interviews by saying, "They've all been good."

Today, the Orioles will interview Rick Dempsey. Other candidates will follow, but as of last night, there were no other interviews scheduled, so Dauer tried to leave a lasting impression.

"I'm pure-positive," he said. "Everything I teach, anything I do, or everything I ever say, I'm going to come out with a positive approach.

"I have worked with the younger players. I have seen that if you're going to get anything out of them, you've got to be positive with what you do or what you say. Not only do they respect you much more for it, but they're also willing to put in a little bit more effort to make them a little bit better player."

Dauer hit .257 over his 10-year career with the Orioles. In 1978, he set American League records for consecutive errorless games at second base (86) and consecutive errorless chances (425).

He had been a first-round draft pick out of Southern California in 1974, and he quickly learned about the Oriole Way.

"I walked into Double-A," Dauer said, "and [Cal] Ripken Sr. grabbed me by the throat and he threw me up against the wall, and he said, `I don't care where you went to school. I don't care what round you got drafted in. I don't care who you are, and I don't care if you hit .300. But if you play and you give me 110 percent, then we're going to get along fine.' "

Dauer said he hasn't forgotten that lesson, and he has applied it to his coaching career. His only managing experience came in 1987 with the independent league San Bernardino Spirit. He was the third base coach for the Kansas City Royals from 1997 to 2002, and spent last season as the Milwaukee bench coach.

Since his playing career ended, his only season spent with the Orioles was 1992, when he worked as a roving minor league instructor, but his loyalties haven't faded.

"I want to manage," he said. "But I dream, and every time I see myself jumping on that pile, I'm always wearing an Oriole uniform."

The Orioles have suffered through six straight losing seasons, and Dauer knows it's time for change. When the Brewers came to Camden Yards for a three-game weekend series in June, the Orioles drew three crowds that averaged 30,828.

"The fans aren't here," Dauer said. "If you get a new manager, you get a new stadium, or you win, fans come out. You need to put a [better] product on the field, and 20 or 30 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles had a team of 25 guys.

"The superstars were fading, and the soon-to-be stars, Eddie and [Cal] Ripken, weren't stars yet, and we put out a team that had 25 guys pulling together for 27 outs."

As for in-game strategy, Dauer said one model would be Earl Weaver, but not necessarily the Earl Weaver that Baltimore remembers.

"Everybody kept saying that Earl Weaver was a wait-for-the-three-run-homer type guy," Dauer said. "I'm not sure, but I do believe I bunted Eddie Murray right to the Hall of Fame because I don't remember hitting a lot of three-run homers.

"I'm a firm believer that if you're going to spend all your time in spring training working your tail off to get in position, as a manager, you better give that team every opportunity to win every single game and not sit back.

"I'm a firm believer of putting the guys in scoring position because they only get there so many times in the course of the game. And I would play to score early but score fast."

NOTES: According to major league sources, one candidate the Orioles considered earlier in the search process was Tom Kelly, who guided the Minnesota Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991. Kelly was on a long list of original candidates, which has since been trimmed.

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