It is not a coincidence that the Bowie Baysox and Trenton Thunder, the two teams with unfinished stadiums, trail the Double-A Eastern League in home attendance by a wide margin.
Both teams are scrambling from site to site while awaiting completion of new parks . . . and suffering with turnstile averages under 1,000 per game.
Baysox owner Peter Kirk says he is not dismayed, even though all his team's home games have been played at Frederick, where 15 of his players performed last season while members of the Single-A Keys.
He sees the numbers as an affirmation that minor-league baseball is a hometown phenomenon.
"The Baysox are doing about what we expected," Kirk said. "This is just another indication that in the minor leagues the majority of the people come out for the fun and the social side of it. The thing that motivates them most is not the baseball or the players, but the hometown experience of being with friends and the relatively small expense of bringing the family."
Kirk says that only a hard-core group of baseball purists attend to watch prospects on their way up.
While the Keys are thriving at Grove Stadium (their attendance is ahead of last year's record pace), Bowie is, for the most part, drawing only those purists.
And Trenton? At Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, the Thunder attracted fewer than 1,000 fans total for two home games.
"When you're in a different community, it's just a nonevent," Kirk said. "We're just muddling our way through this period."
One exception for the Baysox may come this weekend, when they play three games against the Reading Phillies in Wilmington, Del., which is promoting the Orioles vs. Phillies angle. Advance sales have been brisk.
Bowie returns to Frederick May 6-8 against the Albany-Colonie Yankees and probably May 9 for the first game of a series with the Harrisburg Senators.
The next three games, against Harrisburg, will be at Navy's Bishop Field, where no admission can be charged. Any subsequent home games before Prince George's County Stadium is ready will be at the University of Maryland.
Turning the Tides
Infielder Kevin Baez and reliever Tom Wegmann exacted revenge on their former teammates last week.
Traded by the New York Mets for David Segui, the Rochester Red Wings duo played the lead roles in a 5-1 victory over the Norfolk Tides, the Mets' Triple-A club.
Baez had a three-run homer and Wegmann supplied 3 2/3 innings of no-hit relief.
"I was pumped up, no question," Wegmann said. "If you face your old team, I guess you reach back for a little extra incentive."
Hair today, gone tomorrow
The Red Wings will hold "Anthony Telford Appreciation Night" Friday at Silver Stadium. Any fan wearing a mustache (Telford's trademark now), real or otherwise, will be admitted at a reduced rate.
Telford, who now pitches for Richmond after signing last winter with the Braves' system as a six-year minor-league free agent, is being honored as the Red Wings' winningest pitcher of the 1990s.
He was 31-23 in portions of four seasons.
This and that
Rochester's Kevin McGehee pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief Sunday in his first outing. He is expected to join the rotation soon after recovering from a strained elbow. . . . Manny Alexander, back with the Red Wings from extended spring, will play second base when he is fully ready. . . . Rochester pitchers took a one-hit bid into the eighth four times in the first 14 games. Through Sunday, the rotation was 7-4 with a 2.18 ERA. . . . Sherman Obando is out of the Red Wings' lineup temporarily after slamming a window shut on his right hand. . . . Former Oriole Juan Bell is playing for Double-A Harrisburg, a Montreal Expos affiliate. . . . The Baysox hit a club-record nine doubles in Sunday's 10-6 win at New Britain. Outfielder Alex Ochoa had three. . . . Bowie has 11 pitchers with the addition of Dave Paveloff from extended spring. He joins Joe Borowski among those who weren't on the Opening Day roster. Borowski has made 14 Double-A appearances over two seasons without giving up a run in 26 2/3 innings. . . . Jimmy Haynes (Bowie) and Garrett Stephenson (Frederick) lead their leagues in strikeouts. Haynes has 28 in 21 innings, Stephenson 34 in 21 2/3 . Haynes and teammate Scott Klingenbeck have pitched 40 innings with 46 strikeouts and only four walks. . . . Keys first baseman/designated hitter Billy Owens was named Carolina League Batter of the Week after getting 14 hits, including four homers, in seven games. He has eight homers. . . . Pitcher Jay Powell, the No. 1 draftee of 1993, was added to the Frederick roster after recovering from elbow problems. . . . Single-A Albany Polecats shortstop Angel Pagan stole home twice within two weeks.