How are things currently going for you in the wrestling business?
Well, I have been working back and forth for the WWE – just on Smackdown a a month or so ago and just did a WWE Special involving some Legends of Wrestling that will be coming up in the fall. Things are going well though. Obviously I am not as busy as I used to be, but I am still involved in many events that have those fans from back in the day
Any big events planned for the rest of 2012?
I do a lot of book signings. My book, Hacksaw the Jim Duggan Story, that came out in April signing so promoting that has been one of my bigger projects for sure. Other than that, whenever the WWE calls, I get involved with that and have been doing some independent shows as well. The small shows and it is great to get back to that traditional style of wrestling. The other week I was working with a kid at an event and punched him ten times and you could hear the fans counting with the punches “1, 2, 3, 4, 5..” which is great. It is always nice to go back to that traditional style
What drew you to start going to Minor League Baseball games?
Jonathan Gold out of NY approached me about doing them a year or so ago and he has been setting them up for the most part. I am a fan friendly guy and my character lends well to the atmosphere, whether its getting them to chant U-S-A or getting them pumped with a loud “HOOOOOOOOOOOO”. Getting the chance to meet the fans and interact and thank them is a big part of these events that I enjoy.
What do you enjoy the most about coming to baseball stadiums?
Interacting with the fans is really special. When you are at wrestling events, whether it was back then or even now, it is tough with security to interact with the fans when it comes to security and such. Coming to these events is very unique. It gives me the chance for those traditional fans to come out and be able to talk. Wrestling fans are some of the most loyal in the world, which makes it very enjoyable for me.
How many stadiums do you have on your list for visits this year?
Ive got a total of seven on the year. I have appeared in Lakewood, Hickory, Memphis and thus far and have one in Myrtle Beach later in the year.
Does all the travel between wrestling and minor league events take a toll?
At this stage in the game, I don’t work as much as I used to back with the WWF where I would go 54 days without a day off because of being on contract. I pretty much just work weekends, during the week every once in a while. It’s good because it gives my family a break from me and gives me a break to go on the road. I’ll tell you this much though, flying has lost its glammar. Lifetime mileage is probably over five million when it comes to flying. Back in the old days it was tough but it is definitely not as bad as it could be. Later this year I will be flying from Myrtle Beach to Long Island in one day, so that should be intersting. I will have the family with me though, which will make it a good time.
Anything you want to say to the Keys fans in preparation of your appearance on July 27th?
Let em know to be prepared…should be a great night combo of a pro wrestling and baseball. It is a great tie in with each other. Tell them they can bring an American flag and their 2 x 4’s! It should be a great night with a family friendly atmosphere and I am looking forward to it.
Make sure to get your tickets to meet Duggan by calling 877.8.GO.KEYS or by clicking HERE
After taking a look at where the pitching staff from the 2011 Championship team has gone since last year, it is time to focus on the infield.
Justin Dalles (C) - Dalles is currently one of the two catchers on the roster for the Keys this season along with Joe Oliveira. He started the year in Frederick, then went down to Low-A Delmarva only to return to Frederick a few weeks after that. So far this year, Dalles has a .249 average with two homers and nine RBI through 33 games. He spent 20 games with the Shorebirds, where he hit .329 with four homers and 12 RBI. Selected in the sixth round of the 2009 draft out of the University of South Carolina, Dalles was a part of the 2011 active playoff roster but did not register an at-bat.
Brian Ward (C) – Ward was the #1 catcher for the majority of the season last year for the Keys. Known more for his defensive skills, Ward hit .254 in the regular season last year with seven homers and 32 RBI. Brian did not play the first 50 games of the 2012 season due to a suspension, but has returned to the diamond with the Bowie Baysox, where he holds a .203 average with six RBI over 19 games. During the playoffs with Frederick in 2011, Ward hit .276 with a homer and three RBI.
Aaron Baker (1B) -Acquired from the Pirates last year in the trade that sent Derrick Lee to Pittsburgh, Baker is the top power-hitting prospect in the O’s organization. He started off the season slow in Frederick, but has been on fire as of late. Baker has earned player of the week honors for two straight weeks in the Carolina League. Currently hitting .265 with a league-leading 19 homers, Baker could be on his way to Double-A pretty soon. His 66 RBI’s add more to his case as well. Aaron spent time in Frederick (.386 avg, 2HR, 9RBI) and Bowie (.196 avg, 3 RBI) last season. During the Mills Cup run, Baker hit .226 with a homer and six RBI.
Mike Flacco (1B) – Flacco is also a member of the Keys team this year, but has spent some time in Double-A as well. Serving as both the first baseman and designated hitter, Flacco is hitting .232 this season with six homers and 23 RBI. Through 50 regular season games in 2011, Flacco had a .250 average with five homers and 22 RBI. He struggled during the playoffs last year, hitting just .074 with eight strikeouts.
Manny Machado (SS) – The Orioles #1 prospect spent the entire second half of the season with the Keys last year and currently plays short stop for the Baysox in Double-A. Manny was selected third overall in the 2010 draft and has played in the All-Star Futures Game the past two seasons. Last year with Frederick, he hit .245 with five homers and 26 RBI’s through 63 games. This year with Bowie, he is hitting .264 with seven homers and 48 RBI. As a 20-year old in the Eastern League, Machado is more than likely the future Baltimore short stop. Last year in the playoffs, Manny claimed the MVP Award for the championship series. He hit .344 in the postseason with a homer and nine RBI.
Michael Rooney (IF) -Currently a member of the Baysox, Rooney has also spent time this year with the Keys & Shorebirds. In 2012 with Frederick, Rooney hit just .136 in 34 games with six RBI. He has only played five games between Delmarva and Bowie, but is valuable because of his ability to play most of the infield positions. He only registered one at-bat last year in the playoffs. Rooney was drafted in the 30th round of the 2010 draft out of UNC Wilmington.
Jonathan Schoop (2B) - Schoop is currently playing for the Baysox alongside Manny Machado. Jonathan is undoubtedly the #2 infield prospect for the O’s and has started to heat up in Bowie. Schoop and Machado played as a duo last year for Frederick and have both since moved on to Double-A. Currently hitting .250 with eight homers and 30 RBI’s with the Baysox, Schoop is just 20 years old as well. This season, he was selected to the Eastern League All-Star team. Schoop was signed by the O’s as an undrafted free agent in 2008. Last year with Frederick, he hit .271 with five homers and 37 RBI’s. His playoff average was impressive as well, hitting .314 with a homer and four RBI en route to the Mills Cup title. Schoop and Machado represented the O’s last year in the Future’s Game.
Bobby Stevens (UT) – A fan favorite throughout his time with the Keys (2009-12), Stevens was picked up by the Braves after leaving the Orioles organization earlier this season. Bobby is currenly a member of the Carolina League though, playing for the Lynchburg Hillcats. As a member of the Keys this year, Bobby hit .276 with six homers and 16 RBI. Stevens saw some time in both Norfolk and Bowie this season before joining the Braves organization in Lynchburg. During the playoff run last year, Bobby hit .212 with four RBI. Stevens was selected in the 16th round of the 2008 draft. Bobby was very well-known for his community work with the Keys, helping kids with baseball camps, reading to kids with Keyote and volunteering for most anything that he could.
Tyler Townsend and Garabez Rosa were both inactive in the playoffs last year but still played with the team in 2011. Townsend has been bothered by hamstring injuries this season, but is on his way back to the diamond. Rosa currently plays short stop for the Keys.
Make sure to stay tuned for the final part of this championship special, where we take a look at the outfielders from last year’s Mills Cup team.
Last year, the Keys hoisted their fourth Mills Cup in franchise history. Big name prospects came through Frederick and helped the team claim the title over Kinston in four games. Struggling to find to the same success that was had in 2011 this season, let’s take a look at the 2011 Keys Championship Roster beginning with the pitching staff.
Ryan Berry – Currently a member of the 2012 team, Berry has seen time in Frederick in 2010 and 2011 as well. This season, he has appeared exclusively out of the bullpen. He has a 1-2 record and a 3.44 ERA with six saves this year after joining the Keys at the end of 2011 for their championship run. Berry was drafted in the 9th round in 2009 by the Orioles. Overall he is 3-4 with a 3.06 in 40 regular season games with the Keys. During the playoffs, Berry pitched 6.1 shutout innings.
Scott Copeland - Copeland was another late season addition to the Keys after spending time with the Low-A Shorebirds for most of the year last season. Scott is currently a member of the 2012 Keys, where he holds a 3-7 record and a 6.15 ERA. Last season, he was more consistent in his 33+ innings with the Keys, going 3-2 and having an ERA of 2.14 down the stretch for Frederick. During the playoffs, Copeland was 2-0 and held a 2.25 ERA.
Sean Gleason – After breaking the Keys single season save record in 2011, Sean went on to Bowie to start 2012. After being used sparingly out of the bullpen, the Baysox tried Gleason out as a starter. Overall, he compiled a 2-1 record but had a 5.97 ERA in Bowie. The Orioles recently lent Gleason to a Mexican League team (Tigres de Quintana Roo), where he has found some early success. He is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his first five games there. Sean spent time with the Keys from 2009-11, saving 32 games in 2011 – a Keys record. In last year’s postseason, Gleason notched three saves and had a 4.91 ERA.
Jason Gurka – Currently one of the most reliable relievers this season for the Keys, Gurka has pitched himself to a miniscule 2.18 ERA in 2012. After going 1-1 with a 3.18 last year, Jason has continued to find success at the High-A level. Selected in the 15th round out of Angelina College in 2008, Gurka may be seeing a promotion to Bowie if he keeps up his current pace. He only pitched two innings in last year’s playoffs, but gave up no runs.
Randy Henry – Sent to the Rangers as a part of the trade that brought Taylor Teagarden to Baltimore, Henry is still currently a member of the Carolina League.As a member of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans this season, Henry is 5-3 with an impressive 1.41 ERA. Last season with Frederick, he tallied an 0-3 record and sported a 3.60 ERA. He was selected to the Carolina League All-Star team this season as well.
Chris Petrini – Currently a member of the Double-A Baysox, Petrini holds a solid 5-1 record in 2012 and a 3.00 ERA. Chris began the season in Frederick, where he went 0-1 but had a 1.88 ERA over 14.1 innings. With last year’s team, Petrini was 2-2 with a 2.08 ERA over 47.2 innings to help the Keys pitching staff hold the league’s best ERA. Petrini pitched three innings in last year’s playoffs and held a 3.00 ERA.
Jacob Pettit – Currently in Double-A with the Baysox, Pettit is 6-2 with a 4.39 ERA. He was one of the most impressive stories of 2011. He came into the Keys after posting a 5-4 record and 4.42 ERA in Delmarva last season. As a member of the Keys, Jake mowed down Carolina League opponents en route to a 7-0 record and a 1.62 ERA. His success rolled over to the playoffs, where he was the clear ace, going 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA.
Rick Zagone -Zagone has floated around this season, but spent most of his time with the Keys. He currently plays with the Double-A Baysox, where he holds a 1-2 record and 5.00 ERA. As a member of the 2012 Keys to start the year, Rick went 3-1 with an impressive 2.91 ERA. He also spent some time in Triple-A with the Tides, where he went 1-0 with no earned runs surrendered over 11.1 innings. Last year in the playoffs, Zagone was 0-1 with an 8.53 ERA.
Will Startup -Although he was inactive for the postseason, Startup was a fan favorite in Frederick, well known for his pre-game intro video dance. This year, he is a member of the Independent League team, the Sugar Land Skeeters in Texas. He is currently inactive but holds a 3-1 record and a 1.29 ERA. Last year he was 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA as a Frederick Key.
Nick Haughian, Justin Moore, Kenny Moreland, Nathan Moreau and Ryohei Tanaka were also members of the championship pitching staff last season but are no longer with the Orioles organization. Ashur Tolliver and Ryan O’Shea are still with the O’s but have not played this season due to injury.
Make sure to stay tuned for the next part of the 2011 Champion Keys where we take a look at the infielders, including top prospects Manny Machado.
How did you end up with the Keys and what previous sports experience brought you here?
I joined the Keys before the 2006 season, after interning with the Baltimore Ravens. During my internship with the Ravens I met the former Concession Mananger for the Keys, Chris Inouye. He gave me the leg up on a Sponsorhips Sales position with the Keys and the rest is history. Prior to working with the Keys, I worked in as a Stadium Ops Intern with the Ravens and Guest Serviecs with the Denver Broncos.
What is your position with the Keys and what is your regular day in the office entail?
I am one of two Assistant General Managers with the Keys and I oversee the Sponsorship Sales Department, Baseball Operations and Stadium Operations. The beauty of working in minor league baseball is that I get to wear many hats, as opposed to working in one department. I spend most of my days meeting with current and potential sponsors and growing the support of our team in the community through partnerships. In addition, I assist in planning team travel and player transportation when promoted or reassigned. Everyday at the Grove is a unique day for me and that is what i love the most.
What duties do you have on game days and what do you enjoy the most about them?
On gamedays, I oversee the sponsorship slaes team, stadium operations manager, both clubhouse managers, guest services and the ushers. I also emcee alongside Brandon and Adam during the games. I love interacting with our fans on gamedays and I am usually seen everywhere in the ballpark. The fans are the reason we are still in Frederick, their loyalty to our team allows for our success year after year. Seeing the smiles on the kids enjoying our game experience makes all the hard work worth while.
What is your dream job to achieve in the sporting world and how long do you think it will take you to get there?
I would love to work in corporate sales for the Washington Capitals. I have been a life long Caps fan and continue to play hockey to this day. The vibe of the phone booth on gamedays is electrifying and I would love to be a part of building the Hockey Captial of the world.
If there was one thing you could say to the Keys fans about their support over the years, what would you say?
Thank you for your continued support, you provide the fuel for our staff to provide a superior gameday experience and to continue our improvement. Your feedback is very valuable and allows us to adapt our policies to make the gameday experience more enjoyable.