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Savannah's Carey returns to where it all started

June 05, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

Paul Carey has always had the heart of an adventurer.

He knew it, it just took some time to accept it.

That time came last year when he was out battling with the Bears and running with the Bulls of the world. Right then, Carey realized he'd much rather be fighting to stay ahead of Tigers, Indians, Marlins and Devil Rays and developing Sand Gnats.

On Wednesday, Carey was back where it all started for him - Municipal Stadium. Back in 1991, Carey came to town to start his playing career as a member of the Hagerstown Suns. Now, seven years later, he returns to the old ballpark at age 30 while beginning his managing career against the Suns with the Savannah Sand Gnats.

"I love this," said Carey, still wearing his No. 33, just in different colors and for a different organization. "I was out of baseball for a year and did a lot thinking and soul searching. I knew I wanted to get back into baseball in some capacity."

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In 1997, Carey was in the world of high finance, trying to get ahead of the animals of the stock market. It made him long for the days of the not-so-distant past, when he was trying to get ahead in professional baseball.

"I enjoyed it when I was in the financial world," Carey said. "It reminded me of baseball because of all the competition and because it is so cutthroat. I missed baseball's kind of competition, the players, the camaraderie and the teamwork."

Carey, 30, got his chance to manage, thanks to the strong ties to members of the Texas Rangers organization. A number of Rangers executives - like general manager Doug Melvin and player development director Reid Nichols - and manager Johnny Oates were working with the Baltimore Orioles when Carey was working to reach the majors.

"I had a good relationship with them and they showed confidence in me," said Carey. "They sent me down to early camp and they had me manage a team during spring training."

Carey has guided Savannah to a 28-33 record, good for second place in the South Atlantic League's Southern Division. He admits he was anxious to come back to Hagerstown for this four-game series which ends Saturday.

"I have a lot of good memories here," he said, looking around the stadium. "The field looks nice ... the fences are in and the offices have been revamped. I can't wait to get out and go around town. That should bring back more memories."

Carey was a fan favorite when he played for the Double-A Suns after graduating from Stanford. He played here in 1991 and part of 1992.

"I miss playing, but I'm happy where I am," he said. "I try to keep in mind what it's like being a player. It's tough having to strap on that uniform for 142 games in 148 days while dealing with meal money and being away from home for the first time. It's a tough sport. There are no guarantees ... I try to tell the kids that."

Carey knows how tough it is first-hand. He spent five years in the Orioles' organization just to play 18 major league games. He batted .213 with one double and three RBIs.

"I know I lived a dream. It wasn't a long one, but it was a dream," Carey said. "I busted my butt and I played in the bigs, even though it was just for one day. I'll always remember the one day at Fenway Park when I went 3-for-4 and hit my first double to win the game. I want to help one of these guys to get up there and experience that."

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