We’re seven days away from opening the 2013 season at Harry Grove Stadium, four days from the first Keys player and coach arrivals and less than a day from KeysFest and single-game tickets going on sale.
Here are five things you should know heading into the weekend.
The Keys’ annual fanfest event takes place tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Harry Grove Stadium. The event is free and will also include the fourth annual Tots2Tweens.com Egg Hunt. There will be free food samples, free games and activities for kids, including a baseball card station and the chance to play catch in right field. Tours will also be available at no cost, along with other activities to get you primed for Keys baseball in 2013.
Check out the final 10 players on our list of potential Keys for the 2013 season here. That group includes:
Tim Berry – He’s ranked the 11th-best prospect in the Orioles system by Baseball America and the 12th-best O’s farmhand by MLB.com. A slender southpaw, look for him in Frederick’s rotation this season.
Jesse Beal – This right-hander missed all of 2011 after having shoulder surgery, but began his comeback in the bullpen with Delmarva in 2012. In 2013, he could be an important piece of the ‘pen in Frederick.
Jason Esposito – He struggled in Delmarva last season, but hit .340 with 22 doubles, nine homers and 59 RBIs in 66 games in college the year prior. Steve Melewski of MASN wrote that the Shorebirds’ third baseman might be moving across the diamond to first this season.
Connor Narron – His father Jerry managed the Keys in the team’s first season and 25 years later, Connor might wear a Keys uniform. A player with the ability to play multiple positions, Narron’s more likely to be promoted to Frederick than start the season here.
Read about those four and the rest of the final 10 here.
3. More roster cuts from spring training
At one point, the Orioles had about 200 minor league players in camp this spring. As a result, the paring down of that bunch to fit regular season rosters has been in full effect over the last week or so. Since March 22, The O’s have released 21 players, according to this Steve Melewski tweet, which came before word of two more releases today.
Among those that have been released are several former Keys and several players that could have landed in Frederick this season, including:
Jeremy Nowak – He led the Keys in batting average and hits last year and was a Carolina League All-Star. Odds are he’ll be picked up by another team.
Joe Oliveira – A Key in 2011 and 2012, Frederick’s catcher hit .209 in 72 games last season.
Buddy Sosnoskie – He has the best name on our list of potential Keys for 2013, but, sadly, it looks as if it name won’t be crammed on the back of a Keys jersey this season. Despite being released, the independent league outfielder was very gracious with his tweets following the bad news.
Other cuts include independent SS Chris Wade, former Keys first baseman Tyler Townsend (retired), former Keys reliever Matt Bywater and independent pitchers Kyle Mertins and Mike Recchia.
4. Keys 25th season gear
2013 marks Frederick’s 25th season of baseball since the Keys inception in 1989. With that silver anniversary comes lots of commemorative swag. A sneak peak of throwback jerseys to be worn on Thursday home games and a 25th season pin is below:
5. A few links
*It looks as if 2000 Key Brian Roberts will move from the top of the O’s lineup to the bottom to start the season, according to Roch Kubatko’s story.
*ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian has love for 2011 Key Manny Machado.
*Watch 2012 Key Johnny Ruettiger lay out and make a nice grab against the Phillies.
Shake your Keys.
In 2010, Keys outfielder Ronnie Welty finished among Carolina League leaders in home runs, RBIs, hits, extra-base hits, slugging percentage, runs and total bases. His 32 doubles, 86 runs and 142 hits that year all rank in the top six in Keys single-season records.
Sunday, word came down that Welty, who spent the majority of 2012 in double-A Bowie, had been traded to the Phillies for minor league pitcher Julio Rodriguez. To give Welty a proper send-off, let’s briefly revisit his 2010 season.
In 130 games, Welty hit .282, homered 18 times, drove in 82 runs, stole 11 bases and struck out a whopping 159 times. He led the Keys in hits, runs, doubles, triples (3), extra-base hits (53), homers, RBIs, total bases (234), strikeouts, slugging (.814) and OPS (.814). The Keys’ everyday right fielder finished fifth in the Carolina League in hits, extra-base hits, total bases, slugging percentage and games played (130), fourth in homers, third in RBI and second in runs. He also dubiously led the league in strikeouts.
From June 24 to July 9, Welty put together a 14-game hit streak, during which he batted .410, racked up 25 hits and drove in 12 runs. He also had a streak of 15 consecutive away games in which he reached base, hitting .385 over that span. Welty was named a mid-season and postseason Carolina League All-Star.
Welty played 13 games in Frederick last season and hit .415 with three home runs and 17 RBIs. For his Keys career, Welty hit .294 with 21 home runs, 99 RBIs, 98 runs scored and 169 strikeouts in 143 games.
Rodriguez, who has been optioned to Bowie, went 7-7 with a 4.29 ERA last season for double-A Reading
*Welty’s not the only former Key whose baseball career will not be continuing with the Orioles organization. Among the minor league cuts made at spring training this season are 2012 Key Matt Bywater and independent players Kyle Mertins and Mike Recchia, all three of whom have been or were to be featured in our countdown of potential Keys for 2013.
*MASN’s Steve Melewski sat down with O’s Director of Player Development Brian Graham. There are some interesting bits of information in here, including how the Orioles will handle their minor league pitchers.
*KeysFest is Saturday. Buy your single-game tickets when the gates open at 11 a.m. More info here.
* The Grove’s looking frosty this morning:
*11 days until the season starts. Opening Day is almost here.
Shake Your Keys.
Orioles minor league players start their spring training games this afternoon at 1 p.m. against Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Our man in Florida sent us a picture of the schedule, Sundays, however, did not make the photo.
So until we get a new one, here’s the minor league schedule, Monday-Saturday:
*Believe it or not, the Keys’ opening day is just 23 days away. And Keyote is getting restless.
*For those of you who like numbers, equations, advanced statistics and things of that nature, it’s worth taking a look at this milb.com article on Minor League park factors and run environments written by Ashley Marshall. Essentially, the article takes a look at how conducive each Minor League park and league is to offense.
Based on Marshall’s findings, Harry Grove Stadium is the most neutral ballpark in the fairly low-scoring Carolina League. Since 2008, the Carolina League has averaged 4.5 runs per game, which ranks 15th among 21 leagues. Using the equation listed in the story — ((Runs scored at home + runs allowed at home)/(Home games)) / ((Runs scored on the road + runs allowed on the road)/(Road games)) — Harry Grove Stadium’s park factor based on runs scored is 1.002. A neutral park factor is 1.000, representing “an equal number of runs/homers/hits at home as on the road,” according to the story. Factors over 1.000 favor hitters and factors under 1.000 favor pitchers.
While the Grove is neutral when it comes to runs scored, its home run factor is the highest in the Carolina League at 1.689. Winston-Salem is second at 1.189. While the Grove is favorable to dingers, its overall hit rate is just .967. Read the full article here.
*The Orioles held an intrasquad game at spring training yesterday and filled out the lineups with some minor leaguers. Here’s Roch Kubatko’s notes from the game.
*In case you missed it, we released our 2013 promotional schedule yesterday. A taste: Cowboy Monkeys, Peter Bondra, Tim Kurkjian bobblehead, Man on Fire, 50-cent hot dog night. View the schedule on the Keys’ website.
*KeysFest is March 30 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Single game tickets go on sale at Keys Fest, which is just 17 days from now. All the info on the fan event, which will host the Tots2Tweens egg hunt and national anthem auditions, is here.
Shake your Keys.
In a perfect world, every Frederick Key that makes it to the major leagues would make it as an Oriole. Homegrown talent, from Harry Grove Stadium to Camden Yards.
But, an imperfect game by nature, baseball does not work that way.
A former Key now outside the organization, Joe Mahoney is making his case for an everyday job with the Marlins.
Mahoney, a Key for parts of three seasons, was claimed off waivers by Miami in November, and the former sixth-round pick of the O’s is already justifying that move. In five spring training games, Mahoney is 5-for-14 — that’s a .357 batting average — with two homers, a double and 5 RBIs.
Mahoney did most of his damage Saturday against the Mets, going deep twice and driving in four runs. Here’s video of his second home run, a three-run dinger:
Mahoney spent parts of three seasons with the Keys, playing 72 of his 82 games with Frederick in 2010. He hit nine home runs with the Keys that season, batted .299 and drove in 49 runs. Add his numbers with Double-A Bowie that season to those with the Keys and Mahoney slugged 18 homers, batted .307 and drove in 82 runs in 124 games.
That’s the type of power the Marlins hope Mahoney can rediscover after hitting just 21 home runs over the last two seasons with double-A Bowie and triple-A Norfolk. With Miami’s few options at first base, Mahoney could win himself a big-league job if he shows enough pop.
In fact, here’s a Miami Herald story saying just that. From the story by Manny Navarro:
Now 26, Mahoney feels like he’s starting to mature as a hitter. He said he learned a lot from former Orioles teammates Derrek Lee, Nick Johnson and Chris Davis in his three previous springs with Baltimore and has learned quite a bit now working with new Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez.
“I’ve always kind of had it,” Mahoney said of the power. “But now is when I’m really starting to learn pitch selection and letting it translate into games. I’m trying to be an all-around player, be a good hitter who hits for average, drive runners in.”
A 2007 draft pick, Mahoney was called up to the Orioles briefly in 2012, going 0-for-4 in two games. Whether he gets a chance to improve on his major-league numbers to start this season will likely depend on how he finishes spring training following his hot start.
A sign that Mahoney’s opportunity is real — the fantasy baseball community is talking about him.
*2010 and 2011 Key Jonathan Schoop has one hit in the World Baseball Classic — a line-drive home run that almost ended the life of a woman knitting in the left-field stands. He recorded it yesterday against Australia. Watch:
*That bomb helped eliminate Australia and former Key Allan de San Miguel from the WBC in a 4-1 Netherlands victory.
*Read about all of the former Keys in the WBC in yesterday’s blog post.
*Some notes from Roch Kubatko on O’s minor laegue camp.
*A nice gesture to the troops by the BayBears.
*Looks like we’re going to get snowquestered tonight and tomorrow.
*Just one month before opening night at the Grove.
Shake your Keys.
For those who check this space regularly, you probably noticed I didn’t end last week with the usual Five for Friday post. So, let’s do it now, leading off with what was posted Friday, the day the 2013 World Baseball Classic began.
1. Bumbry’s British baseball experience
Steve Bumbry, a Key in 2011 and 2012, spent the end of last September in Germany playing with Great Britain the World Baseball Classic qualifying round. I talked to Bumbry and his mother, who was born in Wales, about a week and a half ago about their experiences overseas. An excerpt from the story is below:
Steve Bumbry had never even been to Europe before.
But there he was last September in Regensburg, Germany, he and a few others on the steps of the Bavarian town’s historic cathedral, belting out Britain’s national anthem “God Save the Queen.”
“Oh, God. Yeah, that happened,” said Bumbry, recalling his rookie initiation with Great Britain’s World Baseball Classic team the night before the Brits’ first WBC qualifier. “We were in the Cathedral square, and we’re (singing) on the steps of this cathedral and people are sitting outside cafes eating, drinking and whatever.”
A Frederick Key in 2011 and 2012, Bumbry batted third and played right field for Great Britain in its three qualifying games at Regensburg’s Armin-Wolf Stadium. The Brits blew out the Czech Republic in their second game, but fell to Canada and Germany and were eliminated from the tournament.
While Bumbry’s on-field performance – he tallied just one hit in nine at-bats – wasn’t very memorable, he said his entire experience overseas, from playing baseball on that stage to connecting with a part of his heritage, was unforgettable.
If you want to keep reading, the full story is here.
2. Former Keys in the WBC
(Correction: An earlier version of this post stated there were six former Keys in the WBC. My apologies to Richard Salazar and Danny Figueroa.)
By my count and that of a few more veteran Keys employees, there are right former Frederick Keys playing in the World Baseball Classic this month, representing the Netherlands, Australia, Spain, Italy, Canada and the United States. They are:
Jonathan Schoop, 2B (NED) – The Orioles’ top positional prospect is a native of Curacao and batted second while playing second base for the Dutch (1-1) in their first two games. Schoop played 83 games for the Keys in 2010 and 2011 and is hitless with one walk in WBC play. He hit .271 with 37 RBIs in 77 games with the Keys in 2011.
Allan de San Miguel, C (AUS) – This 2012 Key is a native of Bentley, Australia. He caught the Aussies’ (0-2) second game against Korea (a 6-0 loss), batted ninth and went 0-for-3. As a Key, San Miguel hit .260 with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 30 games.
*Schoop and San Miguel’s countries square off at 11:30 this morning.
Paco Figueroa, 2B (ESP) – Now in the Philadelphia organization, Figueroa played 90 games in Frederick in 2006, hitting .284 and stealing 20 bases (though he was caught stealing 13 times). Figueroa’s twin brother, Danny, played center field for the Keys in 2008. Spain’s first game is Friday against Puerto Rico.
Danny Figueroa, OF (ESP) – The other Figueroa brother patrolled center field for the Keys in 2008, stealing 33 bases in 104 games while batting .239. Selected by the Orioles in the 2005 MLB draft, he was released in 2011 after two seasons in double-A Bowie.
Richard Salazar, P (ESP) – A member of the Keys for parts of four seasons, Salazar has been playing independent baseball since 2008. He pitched in 100 games with the Keys over the 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons, finishing with a 7-6 record and a 4.09 ERA. He threw 171.2 innings and struck out 141 batters in his Keys career.
John Mariotti, P (ITA) – No longer in affiliated baseball, Mariotti played for the Keys briefly in 2008 and for all of the 2010 season. In 2010, his last season in the Orioles’ organization, he finished with a 3-6 record, three saves and a 4.08 ERA in 21 games. He played for independent team Les Capitales de Quebec the last two seasons. Italy’s first game is Thursday against Mexico.
*For those of you who read French, here’s an article from Les Capitales announcing Mariotti making the Italian roster.
Adam Loewen, OF (CAN) – A left-handed pitcher drafted by the Orioles with the fourth overall pick of the 2002 MLB draft, Loewen spent all of 2005 with the Keys. He started 27 games and made one relief appearance that year, finishing 10-8 with a 4.12 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 142 innings. The following March, Loewen started Canada’s 8-6 victory over the U.S. in the first World Baseball Classic. A stress fracture in his left elbow ended his pitching career in 2008 after reaching the majors the prior two seasons and Loewen made the transition to the outfield. He made his major league debut as an outfielder in 2011 with Toronto. Canada’s first game is Friday against Italy.
David Hernandez, P (USA) – Originally on the Mexican roster before he was ruled a generation too far removed from a native-born ancestor to play for Mexico, the 2007 Frederick Key was added to the American roster to replace Cleveland Indians reliever Chris Perez. Now a key cog in the back-end of Arizona’s bullpen, Hernandez started 27 games and made one relief appearance for the Keys, going 7-11 with a 4.95 ERA while striking out 168 batters in 145.1 innings pitched. The U.S. plays its first game Friday against Mexico.
3. Shaking past 1,000 views
Are you tired of Harlem Shake videos? Good, I didn’t think so.
In honor of passing 1,000 views on YouTube, here is our Harlem Shake video once again. Harlem Shake your Keys.
Last week’s Keys newsletter is here.
5. On the links
*2012 Key and baseball’s top-pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was scheduled to pitch Sunday, but was held back because of groin spasms, according to Britt Ghiroli.
*2000 Key Brian Roberts is on fire. Another big spring training game Sunday for the O’s second baseman.
*Steve Melewski has 10 questions for O’s fans, three of which directly involve former Keys.
*Also, here are Melewski’s top 10 current O’s. How many do you think are former Keys?
*Just like at Harry Grove Stadium, no smoking at Camden Yards.
*31 days until opening night at the Grove.
Shake your Keys.
After being rained out of his scheduled appearance yesterday, Dylan Bundy is slated to pitch for the O’s this afternoon against the Yankees. The 2012 Key is slated to pitch after starter Jake Arrieta (another former Key), according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko. First pitch for the O’s split-squad contest was scheduled for 1:05 p.m.
*Follow Bundy and the O’s live with MLB.com Gameday here.
**Update: Through one inning, Bundy has allowed a walk to Dan Johnson and struck out Juan Rivera. Bundy came in the game to start the bottom of the third inning. He also got Robinson Cano to groundout and Zoilo Almonte to fly out.
**Another update: Bundy gave up a single to start the fourth, but then retired three in a row – two on grounders, the other on a fly ball. Last batter Bundy retired was Yankees speedster Brett Gardner.
**Final update: Bundy has been pulled after two innings. His final line: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO
*Yesterday’s post “The Bundy Effect,” which took a look at Carolina League attendance during his starts, was mentioned in today’s bird droppings at O’s blog camdenchat.com. In case you missed it yesterday, here’s the link to the post.
*The final day of the Keys Job Fair is tonight from 6-8 p.m. at Harry Grove Stadium. Stop by and apply and interview for a gameday position with the Keys. More info on that here.
*MASN’s Steve Melewski takes on the critics of the oft-injured Brian Roberts, shortstop extraordinaire for the 2000 Frederick Keys. Read his story here.
*Another O’s blog, Camden Depot, looks at 2011 Key Manny Machado’s rookie season in Baltimore. Check it out here.
Shake your Keys.
The ace of Frederick’s 2012 staff was slated to pitch for the Orioles this afternoon against the Pirates at their park in Bradenton, Fla., but rain prevented him from taking the mound. Had the game been played, based on the attendance spikes Bundy caused during his starts in the Carolina League, one would have expected a larger than usual crowd, even on a soggy Tuesday afternoon.
The top-rated pitching prospect in baseball, Bundy, one of four Orioles pitchers set to take the mound against Pittsburgh this afternoon, went 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA with the Keys last season, striking out 66 batters in 57 innings.
Average paid attendance for Bundy’s five starts at Harry Grove Stadium was 7,148. His first start in Fredrick, Thursday, May 26, drew 9,833 people to the Grove, the Keys’ season high. Nearly a month later, on Saturday, June 23, 9,477 came to see the Orioles’ 2011 first-round draft pick. On superhero night (Saturday, July 14), 7,583 came to the ballpark, the first 1,000 receiving a Bundy t-shirt, including this Bundy fanatic:
Bundy’s lowest attended home start was his last on Thursday, Aug. 8, when 4,113 came to the Grove. That was his only home start in which attendance dipped below the Keys’ Carolina-League-leading average of 4,724 per contest.
In the five road starts Bundy made in the Carolina League in which attendance was reported (Wilmington and Lynchburg failed to do so in his first starts away from home), teams averaged 5,028 spectators per game.
On July 4 in Potomac, 7,442 fans packed the P-Nats’ park to watch the hard-throwing righty. On July 20 (a Friday), 5,843 fans bought tickets in Winston-Salem. Bundy pitched at Potomac, Winston-Salem, Lynchburg and Wilmington last season.
Of the five games with reported attendance, only once did Bundy fail to exceed a team’s average attendance for the 2012 season — Thusday, June 28 at Winston-Salem. Still, 3,857 fans came to that contest, less than 600 fewer than the Dash’s average of 4,428, which ranked second in the league.
Bundy’s effect on Carolina League crowds was obvious — he made them larger. His effect in the South Atlantic League during his eight starts with Delmarva and in the Eastern league in his three starts with Bowie is less clear, though he likely caused an uptick in weekday attendance at those stops.
Bundy averaged 2,116 fans in all of his starts with Delmarva, all but two of which were weekday games, which typically don’t draw as well as weekend contests (Friday, Saturday or Sunday games). Five of Bundy’s 10 starts in which paid attendance was reported in the Carolina League came on weekends.
In the SAL, Bundy only exceeded attendance averages twice, both times on the road — at Asheville on opening day and at Hagerstown on Sunday, May 20.
His biggest crowd in Delmarva was 3,056 on Monday, May 14, which is still shy of the Shorebirds average of 3,303 last season. Delmarva’s location on the Eastern Shore may have also kept some Orioles fans away. Portions of that group likely came to Frederick to see the O’s prospect.
In the two starts Bundy made with Bowie in which attendance was reported, he drew crowds of 4,847 on a Monday in Richmond and 2,747 on a Tuesday in Bowie. Both those numbers are shy of the average figures for those clubs.
Regardless, Bundy’s season in the Carolina League brought fans in big numbers to its minor league ballparks.
Attendance during Bundy’s 2012 starts at Harry Grove Stadium:
5/26 – 9833, 6/14 – 4736, 6/23 – 9477, 7/14 – 7583, 8/8 – 4113
Road attendance in Bundy’s 2012 Carolina League starts:
6/2 @WIL – NA, 6/8 @LYN – NA, 6/28 @WS – 3857, 7/4 @POT – 7442, 7/20 @WS – 5843, 7/26 @WIL – 5289, 8/1 @LYN – 2710
Carolina League 2012 average attendance:
|Wilmington Blue Rocks||4,235|
|Myrtle Beach Pelicans||3,273|
|Salem Red Sox||2,628|
*A Frederick Keys Bundy bobblehead comes free with an ticket plan at Harry Grove Stadium. Ticket plans are on sale now. Machado bobbles are available, too, if you prefer Manny over Dylan. One bobblehead per ticket plan seat.
* Read Bundy Man’s account of his day at the Grove here.
*All the minor league Harlem Shake videos you could ever ask for. Notice that the Keys video is first.
*A man named Hamburger has been suspended 50 games. Where’s the beef?
*The Keys Job Fair is tonight and tomorrow. Come by the stadium from 6-8 p.m., apply and interview for a gameday position with the Keys.
Shake your Keys.
At long last, here it is:
Keyote, Frank Key and the Frederick Keys front office do the Harlem Shake.
Meanwhile, down in spring training:
— Like I menitoned in yesterday’s post about the Orioles’ intrasquad games, Eduardo Rodriguez, who’s in part one of our countdown of potential 2013 Frederick Keys, is slated to pitch during today’s intrasquad game.
*I’ll update on Rodriguez’s outing as information becomes available.
-MASN’s Roch Kubatko’s notes from the intrasquad game list Rodriguez’s outing as striking out Manny Machado, walking Nate McLouth and hitting Steve Pearce.
-2012 Key Kevin Gausman retired all four batters he faced, showing good velocity, Kubatko writes in his intrasquad game story.
Harlem Shake your Keys.
A two-sport star at Oklahoma, Ryan Minor had two obvious career options during the summer of 1996 — move to Philadelphia and try to make it in the NBA or join the Orioles’ minor league system and pursue the majors.
Eventually, Minor settled on baseball and had a brief major league career. But in ’96, the 2013 Frederick Keys manager actually gave both pro sports a try.
Minor, named the Keys manager in January, was a basketball star at Oklahoma. He started for three years as a Sooner and averaged 14 minutes per game coming off the bench as a freshman. Listed as a 6-7, 220-pound forward, Minor was named an All-American as a junior after he averaged 23 points and eight rebounds. Led by their big man, the ’95 Sooners went 23-9, 15-0 at home and earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, though they were upset in the first round by Manhattan College.
Had Minor, a forward with a soft touch from 3-point land, left for the NBA after his junior year, speculation suggested he’d have been a lottery pick. But Minor chose stay in Norman for his senior year.
Obscured by the basketball hype surrounding Minor was his ability on the baseball field. A member of the OU team that won the 1994 College World Series, the Mets selected Minor in the seventh round of the 1995 MLB draft. Again, he chose to stay in school.
In 1996, Minor became the first player in Oklahoma history to score 1,800 points, grab 700 rebounds and total 150 steals in his career. His draft stock, however, fell and he was taken in the second round by the 76ers. The Orioles, who also drafted Minor as a shortstop out of high school, also drafted him that summer, in the 33rd round.
Minor played 25 games with the O’s rookie league team in Bluefield, W. Va., — missing workouts with Philadelphia to do so — and hit .253. Then, he decided to give basketball a try. He signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with the Sixers, played in seven preseason games and was cut.
He averaged 2.4 points in less than eight minutes per game and shot just 18.5 percent from the field in his brief, preseason NBA career.
News of Minor’s release led to speculation that he might return to Oklahoma to play in the Continental Basketball Association, which is exactly what happened. Saying he was “focused completely on basketball,” Minor spent the end of ’96 with the Oklahoma City Cavalry (rocking a fantastic 90s practice jersey) but didn’t stick.
In February of ’97, he re-signed with Baltimore.
*In 45 days, Minor will begin his Keys managerial career (barring rain, of course). He also played for the Keys for two games, both on the road, in 2000.
*You may have read the former Key and current Oriole Manny Machado missed workouts yesterday at spring training. No worries, folks, it was apparently just acid reflux. Thank goodness.
*No. 10 in our countdown of the Keys’ Top 10 Promotions for 2013 will be on the blog this afternoon. Make sure to click over to that.
*For all you longtime O’s (and Keys) fans, you’ll enjoy this column from MASN’s Steve Melewski. Check it out: What defines a great Orioles fan?
Shake your Keys.
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.