On June 8, 1991, the Frederick Keys played the Durham Bulls in front of a crowd of 7,912.
Among those in the stands at Harry Grove Stadium — and the reason they were so packed that day — was serving U.S. President George H. W. Bush.
On the 22nd Presidents Day since the 41st President’s inaugural visit to the ballpark in Frederick, let’s look back at his two trips to the Grove.
It’s no secret that the Bush family are avid baseball fans. Bush’s son and former President George W. used to own the Rangers. George H.W., an Astros fan, has been spotted at major league games in recent years. Back in 1947, he played in the first College World Series as a first baseman at Yale. Though the Bulldogs would fall in the best-of-three series to California, he fondly recounted playing in the championship in this 2007 Sports Illustrated article.
President Bush trekked from Camp David, the presidential retreat located in northern Frederick County, to the Grove twice during his presidency — for the Durham game in ’91 and again on August 8, 1992. (Camp David’s only about a 26-mile drive from the Keys’ stadium.) For his second Keys outing, Bush brought along the First Lady and several of his grandchildren.
Bush sat in the suite level at Harry Grove Stadium for both games. Obviously, security at the ballpark increased during his visits, with Secret Service agents manning doors and scattered elsewhere throughout the stadium.
The President’s security detail was particularly cautious with one Orioles Scout who came to the park with his radar gun in 1991. Jim Gilbert’s story, as told by The Baltimore Sun’s Pat O’Malley, is here. An excerpt from O’Malley’s July 28, 1991 column:
Gilbert, who resides in Hagerstown, was scheduled to work in Frederick that night and rate a pitcher. He shows up at a backdoor to the clubhouse only to be met by some huge, hulking guy who wanted to know what he wanted.
The guy happened to be a Secret Service agent, but Gil, unaware of the president’s visit, had no idea why he was guarding the door.
An argument ensued, and when the Secret Service man wanted to look in Gil’s black bag, all hell broke loose.
Gilbert told the guy that he had a radar gun (to clock the velocity on a pitcher’s fastball). With that, the agent shouted out, “A radar gun? What kind of gun did you say, a radar gun?”
Within seconds, Gilbert was surrounded by about 10 agents who wanted to see his radar gun. According to Gil, the agents didn’t have a clue what it was for.
As they started tugging at his bag, Gil grabbed the radar gun and ran across the room shouting “Wherever the gun goes, I go!”
Despite the Keys’ close proximity to Camp David, President Bush remains the only Commander-in-Chief to stop by the Grove for a ballgame.
Regarding non-presidential matters:
*Baltimore’s spring training minor league mini-camp opened today with 29 farmhands slated to participate. That list includes several former Keys and several more who will likely don Frederick orange and black this season.
*The Keys Job Fair will be held next Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb. 26-27) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. each night in the Mattress Warehouse Club at Harry Grove Stadium. More info about the job fair is here.
*2012 Key Kevin Gausman found a high-calorie surprise in his locker at O’s spring training this weekend. Baltimore’s pitching prospect had a well-publicized habit of eating powdered mini-donuts before taking the mound in college, which Orioles center fielder Adam Jones parlayed into this clubhouse prank.
Shake your Keys.
Buried beneath yesterday’s bosom-filled blog broadcast was a link to the second installment of The Frederick 40 Countdown, a series that takes look at 40 prospects who have the potential to wear a Keys uniform this season.
If you missed it, I understand, given the distracting photo directly above it.
The good news is part two of our countdown is the first of this week’s Five for Friday, a quintuplet of Keys-related information to carry you through the weekend.
1. Frederick 40 Countdown: Part II – Nowak back for more hacks in 2013?
Among this week’s five potential Keys is Frederick’s 2012 leader in batting average and doubles, Jeremy Nowak (pictured above). Among the highlights of Nowak’s baseball career is his one season at Mount Olive College in North Carolina. Nowak was a one-year D-II monster, hitting .446, racking up 99 hits — including 17 homers — and driving in 81 runs for the Trojans. He started the season with a 35-game hitting streak and left his mark on the Mount Olive record book.
As for the rest of the bunch in part two:
Matt Bywater – A lefty who led the NCAA in complete games in 2010. Also had a strong mustache on picture day last season.
Devin Jones – One of two Mississippi State athletes with his name during his time in Starkville. The potential 2013 Key played baseball, the other football. The baseball Jones was probably the better Bulldog as far as on-field performance goes.
Joe Oliveira – Named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch list three years while at the University of the Pacific.
By the way, part one of the countdown is here.
2. Some Keys-related reading
*MASN’s Steve Melewski has been all over the former-Keys beat in the last week. Three links to his stories are below, two on Kevin Gausman — O’s first-round pick last year and major pitching prospect — and one on Bobby Bundy — also a pitcher. Gausman had a brief stint with the Keys late in the season. He also came to the O’s Caravan event in Frederick in January. Here are the two Melewski stories on Gausman:
Bundy, the brother of top-pitching prospect and 2012 Key Dylan Bundy, spent a large chunk of 2011 dominating hitters with the Keys. He’s coming off elbow surgery after a disappointing 2012. Here’s Melewski’s story:
3. Meet Frank Key all over again
4. Newsletter time
The newest Keys newsletter has been published. It is here.
5. Former Frederick Friday Contest
Head over to the Keys Facebook page this afternoon for another edition of our weekly Former Frederick Friday Contest. We post the picture, you guess who it is, if you’re the first to name that Key, your name will be entered into a drawing to win skybox tickets at Harry Grove Stadium this season. We’ll post a brief feature on the this week’s former Key on the blog on Monday.
As always, shake your Keys.
Pictured above is former Key Randy Berlin, about to receive a wet one from Morganna the Kissing Bandit.
Morganna Roberts, described in a 2003 Sports Illustrated article as a woman with “measurements like a first-place hockey record, 60-24-39,” is from Louisville, Ky., and by all accounts now — or lackthereof — lives a normal life. But for three decades, the busty Kentuckian became famous for running onto fields, courts and rinks to smooch lucky athletes.
Her first on-field caper came in 1971 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, when she went for a jaunt across the infield to plant a kiss on all-time hits leader Pete Rose. She became a traveling sideshow at major league parks across the country, soon expanding her repertoire to include NBA and NHL arenas and minor league venues. In doing so, she compiled an impressive list of smooch-ees that includes George Brett (1979 All-Star game at the Kingdome in Seattle) Cal Ripken, Jr. (1988 at Camden Yards) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1989 before a Lakers-Rockets game).
So, 20 years after Morganna made her debut with Pete Rose, Sr., she came to Frederick to add Pete Rose, Jr. to her list. She got him, and Berlin’s kiss was just a bonus cherry on top of that romantic evening at the Grove.
The Kissing Bandit, who worked as an exotic dancer when she wasn’t storming fields and rushing athletes lips-first, hung up her kissing lipstick in 2000, according to this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article.
Here’s a Morganna highlight video, which opens with her Baltimore encounter with The Iron Man. A signed Morganna photo dug out of the Keys archives is below. Happy Valentines Day.
In non-kissing news:
*Part two of our Frederick 40 Countdown is up on FrederickKeys.com. This week’s five include the 2012 Keys’ leader in batting average and doubles and two highly-touted pitching prospects. Check it out by clicking here or on the link above.
*We’re going to start counting down the top 10 promotions of the upcoming season shortly. Stay tuned for that. What would you like to see at the Grove?
Shake your Keys.
While big-league spring training is just getting under away and minor-league camp is right around the corner, three Orioles prospects just finished a championship-series run on the other side of the world.
Former Keys Allan de San Miguel and Brenden Webb and 2012 Delmarva Shorebird Michael Ohlman played in last weekend’s Australian Baseball League Championship Series as members of the Perth Heat. The Heat lost in the ABL’s world series two games to none, falling to the Canberra Calvary 6-4 on Friday and 7-6 on Saturday.
Ohlman, who will likely don a Keys uniform this season, had the best campaign down under of the three Baltimore farmhands who had hoped to lead Perth to its third-straight ABLCS crown. In 43 regular season games, Ohlman, 22, hit .317 with six home runs and 27 RBI. In the postseason, he hit .467.
Ohlman’s name was in the news for all the wrong reasons just under a year ago. He injured his shoulder in a car accident during spring training and soon after received a 50-game suspension for violating the minor league drug policy. But Ohlman rebounded nicely after those setbacks, hitting .304 in 51 games with Delmarva, doubling 16 times, homering twice and driving in 28 runs while serving as the Shorebirds catcher. He and San Miguel split time at first base and behind the plate with Perth.
Webb, A 6-3, left-handed outfielder with good speed, played in Frederick at the end of 2012. He hit .270 in 23 games with the Keys after hitting .251 in Delmarva before being called up. Webb also stole a career-high 19 bases in 2012 and had a personal-best on-base percentage over .400 despite striking out 138 times in 124 games.
Webb joined Perth in early January and hit .190 with five home runs in 18 games during the regular season. He struggled in the playoffs as well, hitting just .091. The 27th-best prospect in the Orioles’ system according to Baseball America, Webb will likely start 2013 with the Keys.
San Miguel, a native of Bentley, Australia, has played for the Heat in the last three ABL seasons and played 30 games for Frederick in 2012. The right-handed Aussie hit .294 during the ABL regular season, slugging five homers and driving in 30 runs, and hit .286 in the playoffs. Barring a setback, odds are San Miguel has already played his final game as a Key.
Steve Bumbry, a Key in ’11 and ’12, started the ABL season with Perth but left the team in early December.
In other news:
*Webb and Ohlman will report early to spring training for a minor league mini-camp on Monday (Feb. 18). Minor league pitchers and catchers don’t report until March 2 and position players don’t report until March 7. A full list of the 29 O’s farmhands heading to Sarasota for the mini-camp can be found here on Orioles beat writer Britt Ghiroli’s blog.
*The Keys annual job fair will be held Feb. 26-27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The team will be interviewing for its gameday positions at the event, which will be held in the Mattress Warehouse Club on the suite level in Harry Grove Stadium. The full release on the job fair is here on the Keys’ website.
*We’re 51 days away from opening night at the Grove. Single-game tickets will go on sale March 30 at KeysFest (click to see release). Ticket plans, however, are on sale right now. All the info regarding Keys ticket plans, which range from a 10-ticket flex-pack that can be used when and however the buyer chooses to a full-season package, is at this link on FrederickKeys.com.
Shake your Keys.
Let it waft into your nostrils. The smell of freshly cut grass, broken-in leather, dirt, pine tar and sunflower seed spittle.
As of today, baseball begins in 2013.
Pitchers and catchers reported to big-league camp today in sunny, warm Florida and Arizona. It’s a sunny, crisp 46 degrees in Frederick.
In less than 53 days, the Keys open their season at Harry Grove Stadium against Salem. (A countdown to the 2013 Keys baseball season is here.) So, let’s get caught up on some off-season happenings with the Keys.
*The Orioles announced Frederick’s coaching staff for 2013 last month. Orlando Gomez, the Keys’ all-time winningest manager, will not be returning for his fourth season. He’s headed down to Florida to lead the O’s rookie-ball Gulf Coast League team. Stepping into his shoes in Frederick is Ryan Minor, former Oriole and Delmarva Shorebirds manager. Minor managed low-A Delmarva in 2010, ’11 and ’12. He’ll be joined by pitching coach Kennie Steenstra, who held the same position in Frederick in 2009, and hitting coach Torre Tyson, who’s new to the O’s system.
*The full release on the Keys’ 2013 staff can be found on the Keys’ website.
*The Frederick News-Post’s Greg Swatek talked to Minor, who famously replaced Cal Ripken in the lineup when he ended his consecutive games streak, after he was announced as Keys manager. Read his story on the FNP’s website.
*The Orioles Caravan came to Frederick in January. Swatek was there for that event, too. Read his story from the event here. He also gave his take on the bigger-than-expected turnout on a rainy winter day on his FNP blog. An excerpt from that post:
It wasn’t a horrible day by January weather standards. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t without misery (rainy, cold, getting dark). Yet there were hundreds of people in line, waiting to get inside the recreation center almost an hour before the doors opened for an Orioles’ Caravan/FanFest event in Frederick.
Read the whole thing on his blog.
*Our 40-man countdown of prospective Keys for the 2013 season has begun. I’ve penned short bios of the first five, which are in no particular order. Check out The Frederick 40 Countdown: Part I. Seven more installments to come, typically on Thursday afternoons.
*In case you haven’t heard, 2013 will be the Keys 25th anniversary season. In honor of the silver anniversary, we’ll be posting Keys history-related items in this space all season long.
*2012 Keys Brenden Webb and Allan de San Miguel and potential 2013 Key Michael Ohlman just played in the Australian Baseball League Championship Series. But we’ll get into that and a few other things later this week.
Shake your Keys.
Welcome to the Keys 2nd annual Former Frederick Friday contest. Throughout the offseason on specific Friday’s, a picture of a former Key is posted. The first person to guess it right will get their name in the running for a Keys Luxury Suite during a game in 2013. We are currently in our 13th week of the contest. The latest former key to be selected was right handed pitcher, Dalton Maine.
It took a while on Facebook for Maine to be guessed, which isn’t surprising, considering this bushy-browed right hander only saw time in Frederick for 19 games out of his total 93 in his minor league career. His baseball career began in the independent league, with the Mason City Bats in 1994. His 1-6 record and 4.93 ERA wasn’t anything superior, but none the less, the Orioles picked him up as an undrafted free agent in ’95 and he didn’t disappoint in his first season in the system.
After a one game stint with this Bluefield O’s, the University of Richmond alumni found himself with the GCL Orioles. In 18 games, he showed that he may have been worth the pickup after all. In 18 games, he was 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA. That was enough for him to skip low ‘A’ and head to Frederick to finish out his 1995 season. He didn’t do too badly with the Keys either, pitching 22 innings, compiling a 3.68 ERA and 1-1 record.
In 1996, he found himself in the California League with the Orioles minor league team at the time, the High Desert Mavericks. After posting a 1.50 ERA over 12 innings, he was moved to the Bakersfield Blaze, a Co-Op team at the time. He pitched 47.1 innings with Bakersfield before being moved to Bowie, where he posted a 5.06 ERA in 21+ innings to finish off the ’96 campaign.
His minor league career ended after just 11 games in ’97 between the GCL Orioles and the Baysox.