Monthly Archives: July 2014

David Scrivines: How I became a Scout with the Red Sox

David Scrivines

by David Scrivines

The question I am most commonly asked when I’m at a baseball game is:  How did I become a scout?  Good question!  I’ve had a lifelong interest in baseball, starting with my youth playing days in Milford.  As I moved through high school and saw less time on the field and more time in the dugout, it gave me an opportunity to look at the game and start asking myself questions about the game.  My questions were always simple, but I was always fascinated with wondering how to project future success of players.  How do you know which high school players will become successful college players?  How will college playing success project to minor league baseball?  How will minor league success translate to playing in the big leagues?

 

I always enjoyed being at the ballpark.  I remember spending many a day at Yale Field when the then-Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, the New Haven Ravens played in West Haven.  I spent the summer working the games as a game-day worker; sometimes selling hats and t-shirts in the stadium and other days selling programs.  I saw minor leaguers Nomar Garciaparra, Vladimir Guerrero, Todd Helton, and many others come through the park en route to successful big league careers.  I read about these players in Baseball America, but always wondered if they were as good in-person as the magazine was telling me they were.  Some of these players had tools that most people could easily recognize — Todd Helton’s power, Vladimir Guerrero’s arm in right field, or Garciaparra’s range at short stop.

 

At some point in college, I told myself that I was going to start putting my observations on paper.  I spent one summer (1996) going to games in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.  At the time, the NECBL was primarily based in Connecticut, with teams located in Middletown, Waterbury, Groton, Danbury and other locations within an hour drive.  By the end of that summer, I had created a binder full of scouting reports on all the players in the league.  Once all of the reports were typed up on my word processor, I sent the packets to all 30 MLB clubs.  Like many others, I started as an associate scout (bird-dog) with the Colorado Rockies.  I covered high school and college games, assisted with tryout camps, and reported to a full-time scout in the northeast.

 

I started to think about some of the things that I learned as a youth player and how it impacted the way I looked at the game.  One of my youth league coaches told me “a walk is as good as a hit”.  Nobody believed him; it was almost as if a walk didn’t really earn your way to first base.  As OBP and analytics started becoming more widely used, the advice that my youth coach gave me became more and more important.  Another lesson I learned early as a pitcher; the best pitch is a first-pitch strike.  This philosophy carries with me to this day when evaluating pitchers.  

 

After spending eight seasons as an associate scout with Colorado and another three with the MLB Scouting Bureau, I had the opportunity to join the hometown Red Sox as a part-time scout.  The Red Sox wanted to start scouting the independent leagues and one of the full-time scouts suggested to the team that they hire me.  This is my sixth season working for the club covering the “indy leagues” and primarily the Atlantic League and Can Am League.  My assignments also include the Frontier League, American Association, NCAA regional tournaments, along with high school and college games, and various high school and college summer leagues and showcases.  

 

I had the opportunity to attend all three World Series games last year.  It was quite a thrill!  One of my best decisions was to join SABR about 10 years ago though.  It’s a fun group to be in and includes people with varying backgrounds and interests.  It’s been interesting to see the growth of SABR on a national level, along with the enthusiasm of a lot of people in our local Connecticut chapter.  I like hearing people’s various opinions on baseball happenings, as well as some of the open mindedness that comes with the chapter in regards to its views on baseball.  The best part of baseball is that it’s a game meant to be watched, discussed, and enjoyed.  Every day that I’m at the ballpark is a good day.  I get to wear a hat with a “B” on it and watch the game that I’ve enjoyed watching for 30-plus years.

 

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Larry Levine: You never forget your first Pennant

LarryLevine2

 

By Larry Levine

“You were born and raised in the Bronx and you’re a Red Sox fan? What’s up with that?” This question was posed to me every semester during the decade in which I taught the History of Baseball course which I developed at Quinnipiac University. It was a welcome question because it provided the opportunity to reinforce one of the basic thrusts of the course which is that you can’t fully appreciate the present without some understanding of what preceded it, or as Faulkner famously said, “The past is never dead, it’s not even past”.

I would carefully explain that once upon a time there were three Major league teams in New York. Those of a somewhat superior upbringing and stronger intellect tended to favor either the Brooklyn Dodgers or the New York Giants (as I did). The benighted remainder followed the American League entry. Alas, I continued, both the Dodgers and Giants left for California following the 1957 season. As it happened, I too, went off to graduate school at precisely the same time. Given the yet to be developed state of communication technology, it was impossible to follow the fortunes of my team and so when I returned to this area, I was without a serious rooting interest. All was not lost, however, when it became apparent that there was a team which mirrored the Giants closely and whose fans shared my animus toward that remaining New York team. The Red Sox made me feel at home. As the leprechaun in Finian’s Rainbow proclaimed, “When I’m not near the girl I love, I love the girl I’m near.”

I hereby confess that the Baseball course served a subversive purpose. Today’s college students are bright, creative, and energetic but their principal flaw is their absolute disdain for the study of history. They abhor it. For many, history began when they first became aware of a world outside themselves which for this year’s incoming freshmen is about the year 2000. Anything prior to that is essentially irrelevant. By attaching the development of Baseball to the major events and issues in American history, the hope was that a greater appreciation for the latter might blossom. I’m vain enough to think that it worked.

In fact, it’s a natural fit. One doesn’t have to entirely agree with philosopher Jacque Barzun’s thought that “whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball” to understand that the national pastime has been part of the fabric of our society since the mid-19th century and perhaps earlier. From its beginnings, the game has evolved in ways which have mirrored the trends in the wider culture. For example, the virulent racism and the rise of the Jim Crow era following the end of the Reconstruction period resulted in the ultimate exclusion of African Americans from the then existing professional leagues. Adrian Anson was an enabler in this process, not a serious cause. The development of the professional leagues, themselves, was a reflection of the social changes in the last quarter of the 19th century which involved the commercialization and industrial growth characteristic of the gilded age. Labor-management strife, dormant at the moment, also had its long history dated from the same period with the insertion of the reserve clause into standard player contracts. The creation of unions, the lawsuits, the role of the Congress, and changes in the very nature of the game which derived from this event is worthy of a course all to itself.

Baseball has had a serious role in the assimilation of the children of immigrants. The Irish, the Italians, and the Jews, particularly, have used the sport to forge an “American” identity. Discussing the travails of the John McGraws, the Joe DiMaggios, and the Hank Greenbergs, puts a face on the whole issue of ethnic strife in our history. The parallel with the current infusion of Latino players is too obvious to ignore. The place of baseball during the great depression and World War ll allows for some insights into the politics and economics of those critical periods, etc., etc. What is not forsaken in all of this are the events of the game itself. The great players and their exploits are not ignored.

The course for me has been a labor of love. All things must end, however, and with my complete retirement from the academic world, so too has my teaching of the course. How fortunate are future students, however, to be exposed to the capable hands of Brother Ryczek of our chapter who has taken over its instruction. My devotion to the game will, of course, continue as I have become interested in writing some book reviews and lecturing on the history of Jews in the sport. I will also continue to search for a baseball thrill to surpass Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard round the world”. The 2004 AL post-season came close but I was only 14 in 1951 and that was my first pennant. You never forget your first.

SEPT. 17: SAVE THE DATE, BASE BALL FANS.

The Panelists Rev

John Thorn David Arcidiacono

William Ryczek  Joe Williams Gary O’Maxfield

In a Panel Discussion at The Mark Twain House.

“Base Ball in Mark Twain’s Time”

John Thorn, Official Historian of MLB, is author of the seminal The Hidden Game of Baseball and many other titles.

David Arcidiacono is the author of Major League Baseball in Gilded Age Connecticut and Middletown’s Season in the Sun: The Story of Connecticut’s First Professional Baseball Team.

Joe Williams writes for seamheads.com and is a contributing researcher on SABR’s 19th Century Baseball Committee.

Bill Ryczek is the author of Blackguards and Red Stockings: A History of Baseball’s National Association, 1871 to 1875 and 6 other books.

Gary O’Maxfield is the Commissioner of The Friends of Vintage Base Ball and has researched Connecticut’s rich Baseball history for many years.

Admission: Free

Time: 7 p.m.

The Mark Twain House & Museum

351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford CT 06105

Contact Karl Cicitto, kcicitto@cox.net, 860-668-0160. This event is a co-production of the Smoky Joe Wood Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research and The Mark Twain House and Museum.

It’s the 2014 Smoky Joe Wood Raffle

$2 per ticket or $10 for 6 tickets.
Drawing date: Aug. 15
Winners Pick Up: Aug. 17, 9 am in Wallingford. Or arrange otherwise.
Contact:
Karl Cicitto kcicitto@cox.net, 860-668-0160 Alan Cohen adc0317@comcast.net, 860-232-1441

PRIZES
From the Guy Who Covers Sports:

A short stack of baseball books donated by our friend Courant Sports Editor Jeff Otterbein. Flyin’ Hawaiian (2014) by Shane Victorino, How to Speak BB (2014) by Charlton & Cook, Rage (2014) by Bill Denehy & Golenbock (Advanced Reading Copy w Press Release), Field of Our Fathers, An Illustrated History of Fenway (2011) by Richard Johnson, Crazyball (2014) by Wilner & Rappoport and a non-BB bonus book: Great Moments of the U.S. Open (USGA, 2013) forward by Nicklaus. 2 HC large format, 1 small HC, 3 SC Trade size.

Walgreens: Game Day Basket of Coke, Sunscreen, Sun Glasses, Chips, peanuts and crackerjacks.

Hartford Distributing: A Case of PERE JACQUES by Goose Island Brewing of Chicago. 24 bottles. Belgian Style Ale. Warm molasses color, dark fruit aroma, rich caramel flavor, rich soft body. Beer Advocate: 88.

Hartford Distributing: A Case of SOFIE (Goose Island). Six 4-packs. 80% Belgian Style Ale, 20% Belgian Style Ale aged in wine barrels with citrus peel. Champagne color, white pepper aroma, citrus & vanilla flavor, sparkling body. Beer Advocate: 92.

Hartford Distributing: A Case OF MATILDA (Goose Island). Six 4-packs. Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Golden sunrise color, baking spice aroma, fruity, biscuity malt flavor, dry. Beer Advocate: 90.

Travelers Championship: 4 Day Passes to the 2015 Tournament in Cromwell. Good for any day next year.

Boston Red Sox: Four (4) Grandstand seats to 2014 game of choosing after August 18. Yankee games excluded.

Hooker Brewing: A certificate for a group of 8 to an open house, tour and tasting event. Included are (4) pint glasses.

Dick’s Sporting Goods: A $50 gift certificate.

Baseball Hall of Fame: Four admission passes.

New York Mets: 4 field level seats at Citi Field in Flushing to a game of choice in September, Mon-Thur. games only.

New Britain Rock Cats: 4 Reserved Seats to a 2015 game in April or May.

Bob’s Stores Family Apparel & Footwear: A gift bag of 6 MLB logo T Shirts; 3 NYY & 3 Boston.

Golfers’ Warehouse:     A pair of Titlelist baseball caps, each emblazoned on the side with an MLB team logo, one NYY and one Boston. Plus a $25 gift certificate.

Bridgeport Bluefish: 4 tickets to a 2014 or 2015 game.

The Sports Authority:    A gift  card.  Value TBD.

Boston Bruins Hockey Club: A 2013-14 team autographed hockey stick.

Proceeds will be used to offset costs of the Sept. 17 Panel Discussion at the Mark Twain House. Funds remaining will be placed in the Chapter Treasury.

Odds of winning depend upon the final number of tickets purchased so by all means support the Chapter and buy a lot of tickets!