- - Monday, April 9, 2018

Bowie Baysox manager Gary Kendall spends his winters on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, then stays in Annapolis during most of the baseball season to be closer to Prince George’s Stadium.

But there are times he is able to get home during the season to Princess Anne, where he lives with his wife.

And as he makes the drive of about 120 miles, he is able to talk baseball with Orioles director of player development Brian Graham and others with organizational pull.

“Sometimes I call Brian, or sometimes Buck (Showalter) will call,” Kendall said of the Orioles manager. “I fill that time up talking on the phone with baseball people. I enjoy that drive; it gives you a little bit of peace.”

Kendall, 54, a Baltimore native, is now in his eighth season as the manager of the Baysox, the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate. He led the Baysox to their first and only league title in 2015.

It is one of the longest tenures of a manager in Eastern League history, matching the eight years that Tony Franklin spent with the Trenton Thunder through the 2014 season. The Baysox opened this season at home Thursday against the Harrisburg (PA) Senators, a farm team of the Nationals.

But this is a season of uncertainty for the Orioles and perhaps Kendall, a coach and scout for the Birds for 19 years.

General manager Dan Duquette and Showalter are in the final years of their contracts.

“That is a decision that is above my pay grade,” Kendall said. “They have both been great to me; I am very fortunate to be put in this position. They are very supportive of what we do down here. They really care.”

There are five new managers in the majors this season who had no prior managerial experience at the big league level: Dave Martinez (Nationals), Gabe Kapler (Phillies), Mickey Callaway (Mets), Alex Cora (Red Sox) and Aaron Boone (Yankees). Those teams are all in the Northeast corridor, as are the Orioles.

“I know how political it is. You have to be in the right place at the right time,” said Kendall, who would also enjoy being a big league coach. “If this is it for me I have been very happy and very pleased” with Bowie.

Kendall is seen as a player’s manager.

“Players love him. He is a guy who you know what you are getting every day,” said Bowie pitching coach Kennie Steenstra, in his seventh season with Kendall at various levels.

“He is very energetic. He wants to win; plain and simple,” said Bowie outfielder Cedric Mullins, who also played for the Baysox last season.

Bowie pitcher Keegan Akin, one of the top prospects in the Orioles system, has advanced to the Baysox after playing last year for Single-A advanced Frederick of the Carolina League.

“I am excited to play for him. I have heard a lot of great things,” Akin said.

Kendall is motivated by helping players advance.

Among those Kendall helped develop: Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, who played at Bowie in 2012, and injured Baltimore closer Zach Britton, a one-time Baysox starter.

They, too, are in the last years of their contracts.

But Kendall knows how fortunate he is, working for the team he used to watch as a kid.

Kendall graduated from Sparrows Point High in Baltimore in 1981 and grew up in a working-class family. Summer vacations included flounder fishing and renting an eight-bedroom house with relatives near the water.

“When I was growing up my dad was a steelworker and we used to vacation in Chincoteague (Island). I had never been to Ocean City until I was in college,” Kendall said.

Kendall met his wife, Merlita, when he was the manager of the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds in Salisbury, Maryland in 2005.

Now he has come to enjoy the Eastern Shore, a different lifestyle than his city roots.

“It is rural and laid back. You don’t have Little Italy,” he said. “But it’s close enough you can scoot over” to Baltimore on a whim.

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