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Kirk may try women's pro league Start-up with four teams to play in area parks eyed for summer of '98; Notebook

The concept of a women's professional baseball league has been tried several times, without much success.

Now, Peter Kirk and Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership, Inc., are planning to launch another attempt.

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Kirk's group -- which owns the minor-league Bowie Baysox, Frederick Keys and Delmarva Shorebirds -- hopes to start a four-team women's league in the summer of '98, using its three ballparks and another in the area as playing sites.

"We're going to take a run at putting this together," Kirk said. "Ever since we saw the Silver Bullets [a touring team of women's professional players] the idea has been intriguing. Those women played some pretty respectable baseball."

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Poor logistics and administrative problems contributed to previous failed efforts in Florida and the Midwest. But Kirk reasons that his group's control of three ballparks and good relationships with other minor-league teams in the area -- Hagerstown, Wilmington, Del., and Prince William, Va. -- should prevent a reoccurrence.

Schedules would be coordinated so that women's games would be played when the minor-league teams are on the road.

"We're putting together all the research and details," he said. "We're also talking to potential sponsors so that we can guarantee more than one year to the women who sign up."

But Kirk said he is not sure there is sufficient interest, and that he welcomes input.

"How far it can go is the big question," he said. "The only way to find out is to have a league where women can play against women. I have no idea if this is something people want to see."

Clyburn on power run

Outfielder Danny Clyburn was leading the Double-A Eastern League with 17 home runs early last July when he went out with a hamstring injury.

Now, he is a legitimate challenger for the power titles in the Triple-A International League.

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Clyburn drove in eight runs -- the most by a Rochester player in 50 years -- and hit his sixth and seventh home runs Sunday. He was the IL's Player of the Week after batting .393 with five homers and 14 RBIs in a seven-game span.

"He's playing on a different level than the rest of us," said teammate P. J. Forbes.

Said Clyburn: "I've started out well, but I feel like I haven't done anything. I can do more."

Last but not least

Baseball America listed the Orioles' farm system last among the 28 teams for quality, but the record belies that rating.

The four Orioles affiliates entered the week with a 51-37 record (.580 percentage), and two, Rochester (15-8) and Frederick (15-7), were leading their divisions.

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Only Delmarva (10-14) was on the losing side. The Shorebirds simply have not been hitting. They had a .213 team average and no player over .300.

The biggest surprise probably is Frederick.

"They go out there believing they can beat you," said Orioles director of player development Syd Thrift.

Falkenborg's first

Last year's second-round Orioles draft choice, Delmarva's Brian Falkenborg, waited a long time for his first pro victory.

It came in his 13th appearance when he allowed four hits and no walks and struck out 11 in seven innings against the Savannah Sand Gnats in a Single-A South Atlantic League game Friday.

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The Shorebirds went on to win, 1-0, as two relievers added four strikeouts for a franchise-record 15 in a game.

Falkenborg was hurt by poor run support last year, particularly with Rookie-level Gulf Coast, when he was 0-3 despite 36 strikeouts in 28 innings and a 2.57 ERA.

Around the horn

Through Tuesday, the Red Wings had won six straight games and 12 of 14 to take command of the IL's Eastern Division. Their pitchers led the league with 192 strikeouts and Jimmy Haynes was the individual leader with 35. Rochester's Nerio Rodriguez had a no-hitter in the eighth inning against Norfolk before Sean Gilbert bunted for a single. Bowie left 61 men on base in six games and went 2-4 in a span of six one-run decisions. Baysox pinch-hitters were 8-for-16 through Tuesday after managing only one hit last season.

Pub Date: 5/01/97



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