Former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey, who has interviewed three times to become the team's manager and been turned down in each instance, views this opening as his last chance to prove he can turn around the moribund ballclub that he once led as a player to a World Series championship.
"I think if I don't do something now with this organization, it's never happening," said Dempsey, in his fourth year as a MASN broadcaster after five seasons as an Orioles coach. "If the next guy comes in and he lasts two or three years, by then I'll be so far removed from being down on the field that it probably would take an act of God to actually make it happen."
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail is in the initial stages of his managerial search, and so far Dempsey, who interviewed when Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli and Sam Perlozzo were hired, has not been contacted.
As a matter of policy, MacPhail is not publicly discussing whom the Orioles will interview to replace Dave Trembley, who was fired last Thursday. Third base coach Juan Samuel is managing the Orioles on an interim basis.
If Dempsey is interviewed again, a club source said, it likely would be at the suggestion of principal owner Peter Angelos, who has been an ardent supporter in the past. Dempsey said he hasn't spoken to Angelos about potential interview No. 4.
"In years past, I have mentioned it to him when I came in for other interviews," Dempsey said. "But I have not talked to Peter about managing this club in a couple of years."
Some fans are intrigued by the prospect of hiring Dempsey, who played half his 24 seasons in the majors with the Orioles and was the 1983 World Series Most Valuable Player. He became one of the franchise's most popular players for his blue-collar work ethic and goofy antics, including his now famous rain-delay, tarp-sliding performances.
More than 6,400 people responded to a baltimoresun.com poll inquiring about who should be the Orioles' next manager, and Dempsey received 14 percent of the vote, the third-most of 13 choices. Only Davey Johnson (29 percent) and Bobby Valentine (18 percent) received greater support.
Dempsey has said he would stress hustle, hard work and accountability with the Orioles, a message that resonates with a disgruntled fan base.
"The easiest thing to do in the game is to hustle," said Dempsey, whose teams had winning records in three of the five seasons he managed in the minors in the 1990s. "If you can't do that, then you can come in last place with anybody. There have to be consequences, and if you don't want to do it the right way, do it somewhere else."
But Dempsey has never been a major league manager and hasn't managed at any level since he was with the New York Mets' Triple-A affiliate in 1998. There are questions as to whether he could make the transition from the broadcast booth to the field and be taken seriously, given his reputation as one of baseball's most endearing class clowns.
"I am who I am. I am not going to try to change to what people may think the proper personality should be," he said. "Whenever I played on the left side of that line, I took every single pitch and every single swing as seriously as any player who ever played the game. When I was on the other side of that line, I had fun. But the only way you could have fun and be a character is if you are winning, and we were always winning."
Dempsey said he thinks he can bring winning back to Baltimore, but if MacPhail ultimately doesn't agree, Dempsey said, he'll respect that decision.
"I am not going to begrudge anybody else in getting the job," he said. "I am not putting myself above them, not at all. There are a lot of good baseball people here, and I hope beyond hope that I am a fit this time. If I am not a fit, I can live with it."
Garner hasn't been contacted
Phil Garner, who has managed 15 seasons and more than 2,000 big league games, said he has not talked to anyone about interviewing with the Orioles. Asked whether he would have interest in the job, he said, "I would have to think about that.
"I am trying to feel it all out, I don't know what the time frame is," said Garner, 61. "I think I have been a casual observer [of the Orioles], and I haven't decided whether it is something I have interest in or whether they would have any interest in me."
Garner hasn't managed since being fired by the Houston Astros — whom he led to the 2005 World Series — in 2007. He interviewed for the Astros job again last winter and still lives in Houston. He said he is intrigued by several aspects of the Orioles position, including working with MacPhail, whom he once interviewed with for the Chicago Cubs' managerial position.
"Baltimore appears to be a good spot," Garner said. "It's a tough division, but that's competition."
Contacting other clubs
When Samuel was named interim manager Friday, MacPhail said he would consider contacting other organizations to ask permission to interview certain staff members, as long as those candidates were not currently managing.
Some who could fall into that category include Texas Rangers hitting coach Clint Hurdle, Colorado Rockies coaches Rich Dauer (third base) and Don Baylor (hitting) and New York Mets pro scout Bob Melvin.
According to industry sources, the Orioles have not contacted the Rangers, Rockies or Mets to ask permission to interview any coaches or staff members.