Founded in 1989
|Minor league affiliations|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Baltimore Orioles (1982–present)|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (5)||
|Division titles (7)||
|Nickname||Frederick Keys (1989–present)|
|Ballpark||Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium (1990–present)|
McCurdy Field (1989) |
Hagerstown Municipal Stadium (1981–1988)
Rocky Mount Municipal Stadium (1980)
|Maryland Baseball Holding, LLC|
|General Manager||Dave Zidelis|
The Frederick Keys minor league baseball team is the "Class A-Advanced" affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The Keys are based in Frederick, Maryland. The franchise is named for Star Spangled Banner poet Francis Scott Key, a native of Frederick County. A new team mascot "Frank Key", short for Francis Scott Key, joined the current mascot, a coyote named Keyote, at the beginning of the 2011 baseball season. The team is currently owned by Maryland Baseball Holding LLC, after being purchased in 2006 from Comcast Spectacor. Home games are played at Harry Grove Stadium.
Early professional baseball in Frederick
Frederick was one of the founding members of the Blue Ridge League, which existed from 1915 to 1930. The team, which went by the names of Hustlers, Champs and Warriors, won league championships in 1915 and 1921. Games were played at the Frederick Fairgrounds until 1924 when McCurdy Field was built. With the collapse of the Blue Ridge League in 1931, it would be several decades before professional baseball returned to Frederick.
Frederick players from this era who were major leaguers:
- Clyde Barnhart: 1915, 1916, 1917
- Tom Connolly: 1915
- Bill Lamar: 1915
- Leo Meyer: 1916
- Tom Crooke: 1917
- Clarence Blethen: 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923
- Ray Gardner: 1920, 1922, 1923, 1925
- Ray Hartranft: 1920
- Duke Sedgwick: 1922
- Jim Keesey: 1923
- Norm McNeil: 1923
- Bobby Schang: 1923
- Chick Fullis: 1924, 1925, 1926
- Karl Kolseth: 1924
- Bill Hohman: 1924
- Rollie Hemsley: 1925, 1926, 1927
- Larry Boerner:1926
- Jimmie DeShong:1928
- Joe Vosmik: 1929
- Milt Galatzer: 1930
- Bill Perrin: 1930
The team was founded in 1989 when the Baltimore Orioles decided to move their Class A affiliate from Hagerstown, Maryland. The city of Frederick convinced the owners of the then-Hagerstown Suns to move the team to Frederick and promised a 4,000-seat stadium to be built for the 1990 season. For the 1989 season, the Keys played at McCurdy Field, a Babe Ruth League stadium, while waiting for the construction of the new stadium to be completed. The Keys opened by losing both ends of a doubleheader (including a seven-inning perfect game by Dennis Burlingame) against the Durham Bulls. Their first win came on April 11, 1989, with a 3–1 victory over the Kinston Indians in the Keys' first-ever home game.
Only two players in Keys history have been transferred directly from Frederick to the Baltimore Orioles (excluding rehab related transfers). On September 3, 1996, Eugene Kingsale's contract was purchased by the Orioles. On June 11, 2005, Jeff Fiorentino's contract was purchased by the Orioles in order to replace the injured Luis Matos.
The Keys have played in the Carolina League Championship Series, the Mills Cup Series, five times. Four series were against the Kinston Indians, while the series in 2007 was against the Salem Avalanche. They won their first series in 1990, defeating the Indians three games to two. They won their second cup in the 2005 season, defeating Kinston three games to two at historic Grainger Stadium in the best of five series. They were swept by the Indians in 2006, 3 games to 0. They won the 2007 series against the Salem Avalanche three games to one. They defeated Kinston in the 2011 series three games to one.
- 1990: Defeated Kinston 3-2 to win championship.
- 1993: Lost to Wilmington 2-0 in semifinals.
- 1997: Lost to Lynchburg 2-0 in semifinals.
- 2000: Lost to Lynchburg 2-0 in semifinals.
- 2001: Lost to Wilmington 2-0 in semifinals.
- 2005: Defeated Lynchburg 2-0 in semifinals; defeated Kinston 3-2 to win championship.
- 2006: Defeated Wilmington 2-1 in semifinals; lost to Kinston 3-0 in finals.
- 2007: Defeated Wilmington 2-0 in semifinals; defeated Salem 3-1 to win championship.
- 2010: Lost to Potomac 3-1 in semifinals.
- 2011: Defeated Potomac 3-2 in semifinals; defeated Kinston 3-1 to win championship.
Notable former Keys
Several Keys alumni have gone on to play in the major leagues. In their inaugural season, the opening day roster featured several future major leaguers: David Segui, Francisco de la Rosa, Luis Mercedes, Jack Voigt, and Pete Rose, Jr.
Other Keys alumni include:
- Andy Van Slyke: 1995
- Arthur Rhodes: 1989, 1990
- Joe Borowski: 1989, 1990
- Sidney Ponson: 1996
- Brian Roberts: 2000
- Larry Bigbie: 2000
- Tim Raines, Jr.: 2000
- Eli Whiteside: 2002
- Nick Markakis: 2005
- Adam Loewen: 2005
- Nolan Reimold: 2006
- Matt Wieters: 2008
- Brad Bergesen: 2009
- Manny Machado: 2011
- Dylan Bundy: 2012
- Nicky Delmonico: 2012
Frederick Keys roster
- "Blue Ridge League". Boys of the Blue Ridge, 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-06.
- Duggan, Paul (1989-01-12). "The Boys of Summers Past; Cherished Memories Resurface as Baseball Returns to Frederick" (PDF). The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
- "Perfect Game only Half of Keys' Troubles" (PDF). The Washington Post. 1989-04-10. pp. C7. Retrieved 2007-01-08.
- Eichelberger, Curtis (1989-04-12). "Keys Find 1st Victory in Home Opener, 3-1" (PDF). The Washington Post. pp. D4. Retrieved 2007-01-08.
- Goff, Steve (1989-04-07). "Keys, Cannons Ready to Play" (PDF). The Washington Post. pp. D7. Retrieved 2007-01-07.