From the first
time a youngster steps on the field he is told about the do’s and
don’ts of baseball etiquette. Some understand the philosophy as a means
to more accomplishments for team and individual play alike, while
others just go along with the flow for reasons not pertinent to success
of the game. The legendary Joe DiMaggio once summed his reasons for
playing hard every day by saying “Someone may be watching me play for
the first time”.
Such is the case for baseball recruiters and professional scouts when
attending games to assess a player's ability in playing at the next
level. Everyone knows a player has to have talent but what about those
intangibles which magnify one's athletic ability. Baseball is a game of
intangibles—the every-inning mind games between pitchers and batters,
the vagaries of hot and cold streaks, the curses that have plagued
teams throughout baseball’s history. Just like any coach in America
would tell you, a player has to have some athletic ability if they’re
going to help a program, however most would like to know a little more
about the individual player aside from baseball.
Recruiters (be it youth league drafts, colleges, pro ball etc.) have
strong beliefs in a players’ personal character traits, such as the way
one carries himself, a great work ethic, honesty, dependability, an
unselfish team player, strong leadership abilities and a player who is
driven and motivated. Not to be overlooked is a player who truly
desires to work hard in the classroom and enjoys himself out on the
field as it’s the “high energy” player who runs everywhere and seems
intent on helping teammates by interacting and causing a cohesive
Physically, recruiters like to see players taking extra bases, running
out every hit like it’s their last and sprinting on and off the field.
It sounds like simple stuff, but only a small percentage of players
actually do this. Scouts also like to see a player be the first one out
of the dugout to pick up a teammate that has done something wrong.
There is nothing like watching a player who takes a good positive
approach to the game.
Things not to be seen are arguing with a coach, walking everywhere, and
throwing equipment. A scout dislikes the notion of players who carry a
bad at-bat to the field and compounds mistakes. Baseball is a game
where we have to deal with failure, as a good hitter only succeeds
three out of every ten times at bat. By the way, learning to cope with
failure is a purpose for sending pro players through the minor league
farm system before reaching the Major Leagues.
On the flip side, one of the most disappointing things to see is a
player whose team lost but he’s happy with his individual performance.
It’s easy to find a great player but it’s hard to find an elite player
as the elite player not only excels for himself but has the unique
ability to make his teammates around him better.
Treat every day on a baseball field like it will be your last
opportunity to take pleasure in the game. Enjoy your opportunity to be
part of a team and the challenge of winning. Take the time to thank
your parents and coaches for the opportunities they provide. That’s
what baseball is all about – opportunity. Take advantage of it and
enjoy it because the end comes along sooner than you think. There comes
a day when we all have to hang up the spikes… do your best to make that
day far, far away and be passionate about making yourself and your team
better! More importantly, the recruiter is looking for solid
student-athletes who will represent their program in a positive
first-class manner. As one professional scout told me “makeup of the
individual is first”.