October 2011

MLB Scout School: Graduation

“I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us, we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”
-Barack Obama, Tucson memorial Speech

Ten years of post high school education, with the late nights, tests, and papers, and I start drinking coffee at MLSB scout school…

What an amazing and challenging 2 weeks it has been. I learned how to find, evaluate, and sign ML prospects. I also made great friends (that includes you Jim Barnick!). I will never forget Mr. Walton saying…”But do you like him” over and over again, as he explained to us whether we should consider a player as a prospect. Then he would finish, “Well, if you like him, tell me why.”

Each day, I have been wearing a purple bracelet in honor of Christina-Taylor Green. And as I sat in class, I would hold that purple band in my hands, with my fingers gently going back and forth over its indented word – Hope. “Hope” – the word describing what Christina-Taylor dreamt of at just 9 years old – a better world. A world where dreams come true; where people care for one another; and a place where she could one day become the first female to play ML baseball.

Finished with my breakfast, sitting with my elbows on my knees, with my gaze to the floor, I was lost in thought. Thinking over all that I have learned and experienced in the past days, left me with one summarizing thought. Looking up at Tyler, I shared, “I feel a lot older than when I first got here.”

I am so grateful for the opportunity to go to scout school. Another dream come true for me. I was asked what do I want to do next; what am I looking for? And the truth is that I think of Christina-Taylor and the other girls who have dreams of baseball glory and I just want to do whatever I can to make the world better for them. A place where we know and see that baseball is a game for all.

Thank you to all who have read this blog – for your belief in me and your belief in us. Because we are all in a community of baseball dreamers.

MLB Scout School: Day 12

“At scout school. Watching Bryce Harper. Sweet! I’m think he might be a prospect :)
-My tweet, at today’s Arizona Fall League game.

The left fielder threw home during In & Out and I immediately thought, I like that arm. Fluid, on target, and with carry. I note it’s a plus arm. As I match up jersey number to roster name I realize that LF is Bryce Harper. I chuckle to myself – at least I know scout school is working – prospect identified.

Today, we watched an Arizona Fall League game. Our assignment was to write a pro report on 2 position players, the starting pitcher, and a pitcher of our choice. A pro report identifies prospects at the AAA, AA, and A level and then defines the player’s prospect status and projected time of arrival as a Major League player. A pro report requires less descriptive detail than an amateur report but I think it demands more conviction.

My scout school epiphany happened today as I sat behind the radar gun. All program, I had been having trouble differentiating between a slider and a curveball and its descriptive movement. But today, I was able to instantaneously see the pitch movement, match it with a radar reading, and then have an instructor describe the movement with proper scout phraseology. And it all made sense to me.

Today was my favorite day at scout school. Now, I realize I keep writing that “that day” was my favorite day. Well…each day just keeps getting better than the last. But unfortunately, the last day is upon us.

And my Overall Evaluation (OEA) grade of MLSB scout development program: 8… “Premium.”

MLB Scout School: Day 11

“Loves to play.”

-A phraseology from the MLSB Development Handbook that can used to describe a player’s intangible tools.

Wednesday began as a hump day for me. A bit worn down from my lack of sleep, I was moving at a snail pace. As we waited around at the field for rosters, I decided I just wanted to sit down. So I sat on the pavement, on top of my clipboard, put my head down, and started softly singing Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars to myself.

“You all right,” asked Ross. Crouched down at my ear level, I replied embarrassed, “did you hear me singing?” Ross Smith is a fellow scout school participant who had just been released at Spring Training by the Cardinals. He asked me again if something was wrong. I told him I was tired. With all of the wisdom of a 23-year old, he insisted, “Get up. And fake it.”

There is a portion of a scouting report that asks for an evaluation on the player’s poise, instincts, and aggressiveness. These categories are where we get to list the intangibles. A recent ESPN reporter, described my physical presence as, “almost lethargic.” The reporter continued, “but in a baseball context she comes alive.”  I’m grateful Ross reminded me of my own intangible qualities.

Today, became one of my favorite days at the ball park. The pitchers threw strikes, the players I observed had talent, and I was growing more comfortable in my evaluation role as a scout. I love scout school. But with just two days left, the end is near.

Senior Vice President of MLB’s Baseball Operations, Kim Ng, was at the field for a one day visit. As we briefly caught up, she asked me if I was enjoying myself. With the biggest smile I could give her, I answered, “I don’t want to go home.”

MLB Scout School: Day 9

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
-Anaïs Nin, Diary, 1969

I was laying in the pool chair, under the night sky, with the hood of my sweatshirt pulled down over my eyes. I had just gotten done with my individual meeting with my instructor and I was disappointed in myself. I felt that I should have done better with my scouting reports.

I have fought for just about every baseball opportunity I’ve ever had. I was 13, when my baseball coach told me he didn’t want me on his team because I was a girl. But I didn’t quit. I was in high school when my coach said I couldn’t try out for the team. Then at a camp, I pitched against them; after that they let me tryout and play. I was 16, when one of my baseball heroes laughed when I said my goal was to coach college baseball. He said no man would listen to a woman on a ball field.

After being an assistant college baseball coach for 3 years, I went on and coached men’s pro baseball and even there, I was told that people expected me to quit. Two years later, I was talking to a MLB manager in the lobby at the Baseball Winter Meetings, telling him that I wanted to throw BP to his team. His response: “why the hell should I let you do that?” And then a few sentences later he asked me if I wanted to go up to his hotel room.

Six months ago, I asked the Major League Scouting Bureau a question pertaining to my academic work. Frank Marcos, the Director of the MLSB, emailed me back and asked if I would be interested in coming to Scout school. Of course, I said yes. The Cleveland Indians then agreed to sponsor me.

The most special part of scout school for me is that I was accepted from the very beginning. I didn’t have to fight my way in. I was invited. I was welcomed. And as I laid in my pool chair, feeling a little sorry for myself, I also thought of Mr. Marcos. Because from the beginning, he believed in me. And I am so grateful for that.

I want to be the scout school participant that Mr. Marcos thought I could be. And I know I’ll never quit trying.

MLB Scout School: Day 7

“Your authentic self is the soul made visible.”
-Sarah Ban Breathnach

“You mean were not just here to get married,” I jokingly said to Tyler. She laughed, and replied, “I’ve heard that one before.” Tyler and I are the only women at the scout development program. But both of us are use to being the only females in a room filled with baseball guys. For me, the chance to hang out with another baseball woman has been awesome.

Tyler Tumminia grew up in baseball and is now a successful baseball executive. She is the V.P. of marketing and operations for the Goldklang group (NJ). She hosts a webisode called Be Your Own Fan TV (byoftv.com). Her father, John Tumminia, has been a scout for more than 30-years. Tyler spearheaded the creation of the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame.

Both Tyler and I have had our scout abilities and motivations questioned because of our gender. And so I wanted to ask her more about her experiences. Before coming to scout school, I had run into Tyler at various baseball events. When describing her to others, I would say that she is, “beautiful; dresses like a model; really smart; and way cooler than me.” Now that I have spent a week with her at scout school I would add: funny, sensitive, hard worker, and trustworthy. Below is my interview with her:

Why did you want to come to scout school?
I wanted to attend Scout School in order to hone and develop my scouting skills, which I believe will assist me in whatever role(s) I may occupy within the sport in the future.  Enhancing my ability to evaluate players will add to my already well developed business skill set and help me become a well rounded candidate in the future. Everyone, new to the game or a veteran, can benefit from this program to further develop their ability to evaluate players.

Your dad is a well known, established scout. Tell me about him and what its like being his daughter?
I’m always under the gun!  I’m always being evaluated (she says with a laugh)  My father used baseball as an analogy for every life experience. For example, he would reference my academics like Ty – I think you sit 94-96.  You can dial it up to 98-99 when the competition calls for it, though. He is a tough evaluator off/on the field, but my relationship is unique for a father and daughter, we can talk baseball and there was always time for a catch even to this day.  When we have a catch, that’s when we can talk about anything under the sun.

What has been the most challenging aspect of scout school?
The schedule is a grind here.  We start at 9:00AM with a day ending around 10:00pm- everyday for two weeks straight!  The challenge is to maintain balance physically and mentally.  They push you with information overload, expectations to capture an accurate snapshot of multiple prospects in your verbal evaluations and report writing, assignments at night and then you press play the next day and do it all over again.

If you could give one piece of advise to a girl who one day dreams of working in professional baseball what would that be?
Be your authentic self.  It may seem simple- but as you mature and grow into success- it becomes a challenge.  I encourage everyone male or female to be their authentic self and I promise you will find success in all aspects of life.

What are your dreams?
To be content with whatever life throws at me.

MLB Scout School: Day 6

“A scout must have honesty, integrity, and loyalty.”
-MLSB Development Handbook

Today, we had the honor of meeting and listening to Don Pries. Eighty-four year old, Mr. Pries founded the Scout Development program 26 years ago. Beyond the amazing things that he has contributed to the baseball world, there is another reason I like him – He just looks happy. He radiates a sense of peace with his smile, kind eyes, and the encouraging words he shares.

Mr. Pries addressed us with a brief but inspiring talk. The beginning and end of his speech will always stay with me.

Thin and white haired, with a small bend in his upper back, Mr. Pries slowly but steadily walks up to the podium. He looks out at us. And in a confident and booming voice, he begins:

Do you have goals? 

Do you have dreams?

Do you have goals and dreams that haven’t come true?

If it happens to you – then get another goal – get another dream.

Soaking in every word, we listen with rapt attention. Mr. Pries continues on about the joy of scouting, the benefits of the school, and the friends he has made along the way. Then he stops; looks out at us one more time. And with a smile, he concludes:

God bless you all.

And may all of your dreams come true.

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