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TENNIS / WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT AT MANHATTAN BEACH : Love for Shriver Is Owning Piece of Orioles

August 10, 1993|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The new minority owner of the Baltimore Orioles promises not to fire the manager, phone the dugout or let her dog run loose in the outfield.

None of this is a problem. The only thing the new minority owner of the Baltimore Orioles said she will find difficult is being a silent minority owner.

"I am going to find it absolutely impossible," Pam Shriver said Monday.

Normally, Shriver is only silent when asleep, so this new investment opportunity may require a short adjustment period.

"While I'm still playing tennis, everybody's safe," joked Shriver, 31, who was part of a group of investors that paid $173 million to buy the Orioles.

Thus occurred one of those historic sports moments--the first women's tennis player to own a major league baseball team, or at least part of it.

Shriver plans to ease slowly into her modified front-office role. She is undecided on revenue sharing, but Shriver can see the merit of a salary cap for players.

"In women's tennis, guaranteed contracts are pretty foreign," she said. "Our sport is incentive-based to the end. I think if someone bats .320, he should make more than if he bats .300."

Shriver said she owns less than 1% of the team, which means she put in a sum somewhat smaller than $1.7 million. This was a sound business decision, she said.

"I mean I wasn't going to bet the house on the Oriole franchise or give up the college education of my child," she said.

Shriver has neither a child nor any say in the way the Orioles are run. What she does have is a deep and abiding love of the Orioles--maybe not $1.7-million worth, but certainly longstanding affection.

Wearing an Oriole cap at the Manhattan Country Club, where she is playing doubles with Ros Fairbank-Nideffer in the Virginia Slims of Los Angeles, Shriver pointed out that the Orioles were undefeated under her ownership.

She said she is only too happy to take credit for the winning streak, but pointed out that she probably has to share it with the other 21 owners in the new group.

"We're going to be a new TV series--'Twentysomething,' " Shriver said.

As a child growing up in Lutherville, Md., her earliest sports memories were of the Orioles. She was 4 when Baltimore won the World Series in 1966, sweeping the Dodgers, and can't remember specifics, only summers of Oriole baseball.

Her favorite players were Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Jim Palmer, but she said she also closely identified with Boog Powell.

Boog?

"Well, he's big and slow, too," she said.

Shriver never played baseball. Her softball career was abbreviated, but it began in 1978 at Hilton Head, S.C., in an annual game between players on the women's tennis circuit. Even at 15, Shriver's position was clear.

"Well, where do they put big, slow, people?" she said. "Yes, first base."

Boog probably was pleased.

*

In a first-round match with 15 service breaks, Lisa Raymond, the Florida All-American and two-time NCAA singles champion, lost to Kimberly Po, 6-7 (7-5), 6-4, 6-1.

Raymond, who turns 20 today, turned pro just before Wimbledon after a sophomore year in which she didn't lose a match.

Po, 21, left school after her sophomore year at UCLA when she made her only NCAA tournament appearance and lost in the first round.

The Kraft Tour is an adjustment for new pros, Po said.

"You're not always going to play well," Po said. "You can't let it get you down. It's kind of a weird mental game."

Tennis Notes

Ros Nideffer rallied for a 6-7 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4 victory over ninth-seeded Katerina Maleeva in a first-round match. Nideffer, 32, is ranked 68th in the world. She was ranked as high as 15th in the world in 1990 when she was known as Ros Fairbank. Maleeva, 24 of Bulgaria, is ranked 20th.

Greg Hills of Manhattan Beach got a phone call over the weekend from Greg Fowler, the pro at Manhattan Beach Country Club where Hills is a member. Would he like to hit with Gabriela Sabatini? "I said sure," said Hills, who hit with Sabatini for a couple of hours. "It was a thrill," said Hills, a real estate investor and a former tennis player at Duke. "She just didn't miss." . . . Sabatini plays Kathy Rinaldi at 7 p.m., followed by Tracy Austin against Gigi Fernandez.

Hall of Fame basketball player Ann Meyers will be honored a reception at 5:30 p.m. to benefit the Women's Sports Foundation. Tickets to the reception and the evening tennis matches are $35. Information: (310) 546-7753.

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