Orlando FL: Following teams up and down the coasts of Florida or across the desert of Arizona, is one of the best experiences I have had in baseball. The simple 7 – 9 thousand seat stadiums ooze with the history of the players who have passed through, some on their way to greatness and others who were sent packing before they could find a good place to eat.
While the stars go at half speed, come to bat twice or pitch two innings, the non roster players are doing cart wheels to get noticed.
Watching scouts packed in tight behind home plate, with their radar guns all pointed at the pitcher, is a sight to see. Whenever a new pitcher comes in that is unfamiliar to them the guns all slowly rise in unison like the cannons of battleships on the morning of “D Day”.
Then every head tilts down to enter that information like synchronized Olympic swimmers. Each scout uses their own special chart that is different from the rest. No two are alike. They use very fine pencils, writing so small that the CIA couldn’t understand what they wrote.
For as much as they are all friends and share their thoughts about players, they will keep some things secret. After all, their teams are all competing for that big ring in October.
Getting to talk to scouts, reporters, broadcasters, GM’s, media people, security people and even the parking attendants after a long winters nap, is special. Laughs and interesting stories are shared in abundance as we all get ready for the days game.
The press lounges at these small and often old ballparks are akin to the out of the way places these baseball people have traveled to around the county looking for that diamond in the rough. For the big league players, it is a reminder of their hard struggles having to endure years of a not so comfortable life style to get to where they are now.
Places like Dunedin, Port Charlotte, Peoria, Surprise, or Papago, are names that every baseball person can pronounce easily. Names used to tell colorful stories . Scouts and news people, will gather around various tables in these lounges, that resemble soup kitchens and listen to one of the old timers spin a tale from the past and spoken with a poetic style that only a person who has seen and experienced years of baseball can do.
Times like these are “Gold” and make me know just how privileged we all are to be a part of this “Baseball Thing”
This is a piece of America, that will never need to be made great again.