Andy MacPhail's love of baseball bloomed in Baltimore, and now he is apparently heading back.
The Orioles have agreed in principle with former Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins executive MacPhail - whose father once was Baltimore's general manager - to be the club's next chief operating officer, a baseball official confirmed yesterday.
"I am just not really at liberty to discuss the situation at present," MacPhail said.
The Orioles also would not confirm MacPhail's hiring, which was first reported by ESPN's Buster Olney yesterday morning, and limited questioning at yesterday's news conference to "on-field issues" involving the firing of manager Sam Perlozzo.
The source, however, told The Sun that club owner Peter Angelos and MacPhail met this weekend in suburban Chicago and agreed to a deal. The source said there were "no pressing issues" that should prevent the hiring, but some contractual language still needed to be resolved.
An official announcement probably will not be made for several more days. Angelos could not be reached for comment.
According to the source, Angelos and MacPhail were seen talking together as recently as the owners' meetings in May, which MacPhail attended on behalf of Selig. Also, MacPhail and Angelos worked together closely during the 2002 and 2006 labor negotiations.
The position of chief operating officer was vacated last month when Joe Foss resigned to accept a position with a Baltimore-based developer of retirement communities. Whereas Foss' background was business and finance, MacPhail, whose surname is one of the most storied in the sport's history, is considered a consummate baseball man.
He would likely be more hands-on in the day-to-day decisions of club personnel, but would be expected to keep executive vice president Mike Flanagan and vice president Jim Duquette - at least initially. Both of their contracts expire in 2008.
Whomever the Orioles hire to succeed Perlozzo, who was fired yesterday morning and replaced temporarily by bullpen coach Dave Trembley, likely would be approved - if not hand-picked - by MacPhail. And that manager's contract surely would expire after Flanagan's and Duquette's.
Two high-profile candidates who have been mentioned as possibilities - Joe Girardi and Dusty Baker - have worked under MacPhail with the Cubs, Girardi as a player and Baker as a manager.
Former Oriole Davey Johnson, who led the Orioles' last winning team in 1997, also is considered a candidate.
MacPhail, who began his baseball career as a Single-A business manager in the Cubs organization, won World Series championships in 1987 and 1991 as executive vice president-general manager of the Minnesota Twins. He left Minnesota and joined the Cubs in 1994, and remained there until stepping down at the end of last season during another disappointing year at Wrigley Field.
MacPhail moved to Baltimore in 1958 when he was 5 and stayed for eight years while his father, Hall of Fame executive Lee MacPhail, ran the Orioles from 1958 to 1965.
His dad is credited with building the Orioles' first title team in 1966 - Johnson, among others, was signed to an Orioles contract while Lee MacPhail ran the club - though Lee MacPhail left for the New York Yankees before the 1966 season.
Andy MacPhail grew up idolizing Orioles such as Jim Gentile and Gus Triandos. While in Chicago, he had a picture of Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson in his office, and he owns a dog named Brooks after the Orioles' third baseman.
MacPhail has been mentioned as a potential successor to Selig when the current commissioner steps down in 2009.
MacPhail's grandfather, Larry, is also in the Hall of Fame. A road in Bel Air is named for the MacPhail family.
College: Graduated from Dickinson College in 1976
Baseball experience: Minnesota Twins general manager, 1985-1994; Chicago Cubs president, 1994-2006, and Cubs GM, July 2000-July 2002. The Sporting News Major League Executive of the Year in 1991.
Lineage: Son of American League president, Orioles and New York Yankees general manager Lee MacPhail. Grandson of Larry MacPhail, Yankees, Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers executive. Both are in Hall of Fame.