Memorial Stadium will live through another baseball season, after all.
The Bowie Baysox made it official yesterday. The Orioles' Double-A affiliate will play its 70-game Eastern League home schedule at Memorial Stadium. It is believed this is the first time major- and minor-league teams have played in the same city.
"The new Bowie stadium will not be ready this year, so we were left without a field," said Peter Kirk, president of the group that also owns the Frederick Keys, one of the Orioles' Single-A teams.
"Fortunately, the Orioles came to the rescue," said Kirk, who needed permission to play in the big-league team's former park. "The more we looked at possibilities and discussed things with representatives of the city, the Orioles and the community, the more feasible it became."
The Bowie team was scheduled to play this year in a new stadium near the intersection of Routes 301 and 50, but zoning problems have held up construction. The new facility cannot be completed before next season.
"Three or four other minor-league teams have run into similar problems," said Doug Melvin, assistant general manager and director of player personnel for the Orioles. "Two teams are going to play in Nashville this year -- the White Sox's Triple-A club and Minnesota's Double-A team.
"From a player development standpoint, we were in favor of Memorial Stadium because of field conditions," said Melvin. "The other alternatives weren't suitable for what they needed."
The Orioles and Baysox are working on several joint marketing and promoting ventures, including the sale of each other's tickets.
"That's one of the things we've discussed, but we haven't finalized it yet," said Keith Lupton, general manager of the Double-A team. "There will be an opportunity to do a lot of things between the two clubs."
Lupton is excited about the possibility of playing in Memorial Stadium, but says he's unsure what to expect.
"I really have no idea how we'll do," he said. "But, in talking to people, a lot of folks say they'll be glad to go back to the old park."
Three players who played in Memorial Stadium as major-leaguers will direct the Baysox next season.
Don Buford, a catalyst on the 1969-71 American League championship teams, will be the manager. The pitching coach ** will be John O'Donoghue, who played briefly for the Orioles in 1968. His son, who goes by the same name, is a left-handed pitching prospect who has a chance to be the Orioles' No. 5 starter this year. Joe Durham, an outfielder for the Orioles in the 1950s, will rotate as a coach between Frederick and Baltimore.
"We intend to promote the team in both [Baltimore and Bowie] markets," said Lupton. "We'll do all of our normal minor-league promotions, like bringing in the Chicken and Max Patkin [who bills himself as the 'Clown Prince of Baseball'].
"There will be some things that people here don't normally see," said Lupton. "And hopefully the Orioles will be selling out every game again and people who want to see some baseball, or see some of the future big-leaguers, will come to see us."
Baysox home schedule
16-17-18 ...... London
19-20-21-22 ... Binghamton
26-27-28 ...... Reading
29-30 ......... Canton-Akron
1-2 ........ Canton-Akron
3-4-5 ...... Harrisburg
14-15-16 ... New Britain
25-26 ...... Albany
4-5-6 ........ London
7-8-9 ........ Binghamton
14-15-16-17 .. Reading
18-19-20 ..... Canton-Akron
21-22-23 ..... Harrisburg
1-2-3-4 ......... New Britain
14-15-16-17-18 .. Albany
27-28-29-30 ..... London
31 ..... ........ Binghamton
1-2 .......... Binghamton
6-7-8 ........ Reading
9-10-11 ...... Canton-Akron
12-13-14-15 .. Harrisburg
23-24-25 ..... New Britain
3-4-5 .... Albany
Game times: Mon.-Fri., 7:05 p.m.; Saturdays, 7:35 p.m.; Sundays, 2:05 p.m.