A massive reorganization of how minor league baseball operates is behind the MLB proposal, and the consolidation of teams and leagues would leave the Keys likely slated to be on the outside looking in.
Frederick City, Maryland, Mayor Michael O’Connor has joined a task force with mayors from over 120 other U.S. cities and towns hoping to stop cuts, which could see towns that have supported minor league baseball for decades suddenly without a home nine to cheer for. That task force is now also hosting a petition meant to reiterate how important baseball is to those communities.
“It is a big deal economically,” said Richard Griffin, the director of economic development in the City of Frederick. “We believe that there’s more than $15 million worth of economic impact from the Keys in our community annually.”
The Keys have 25 full-time and 250 part-time employees, and the team saw more than 270,000 fans enter the gates at Harry Grove Stadium last year, tops in the Carolina League. So, it’s not about a lack of community support. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“The data will speak for itself,” Griffin said. “Whether or not this petition works, we feel strongly that Frederick is going to continue to be a minor league baseball community. We want our affiliation with the Orioles to remain, and we strongly want to be able to retain the employees and part-time staff that work in the ballpark as well.”
“We’ve had great players come through Frederick,” added Griffin, who pointed out a city employee has a son playing in the Orioles system now. “Just being able to connect our community with that Major League Baseball presence has been enormous. People have enormous pride around that.”
And, Griffin said, the team in turn does a great job of ingratiating itself in the community.
“The Keys are a committed community partner,” Griffin said. “They do an enormous amount of outreach and community work here. In fact, in 2019, they were recognized as the Carolina League Service Award recipient for … their community service. So, it’s personal. We really value the Keys in our community and want to keep them here.”