Hagerstown Suns owner Peter Kirk said he is confident the city will acquire another minor-league baseball franchise when the Class AA Eastern League team suspends operations after the 1992 season.
And he apparently believes the Baltimore Orioles will continue their affiliation with the city, although at the lower Class A level.
Kirk is seeking a franchise in the Class A South Atlantic League, which expanded to 14 teams last year and encountered scheduling problems with that number. So, the league is hoping to expand to 16 members and create two eight-team divisions split by geography.
He is hoping Hagerstown will be one of those teams.
"I know the Orioles want to be in the South Atlantic League," Kirk said yesterday. "In all our meetings with them, they have always been interested in that. They have encouraged us to pursue what we are pursuing. The Orioles have indicated to us that they will address the lineup for their system in the future at midseason. And they are happy with teams that are close to home."
The South Atlantic League is considered one step below the Class A Carolina League, which the Frederick Keys play in.
Kirk has been trying to obtain a Class AAA franchise for the Annapolis-Bowie area but said a Class AA team there might be a possibility now.
"That is something to think about," he said. "Charlotte built a park while it was Double-A and was first in line for Triple-A. It happened in Buffalo and Nashville, too."
"Our preference is to continue what we started, put a whole farm system together in the state of Maryland," he said.