Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #59 Bobby Scales

In the early summer of 1999 Bobby Scales must have thought he had it made. He was the co-captain of the Michigan baseball team. His Wolverines had won another conference championship, they made it into the coveted NCAA tournament and Bobby was the MVP of the Big Ten tournament. To top it all off,  Scales was selected in 14th round of the MLB draft by the San Diego Padres. No one could argue, he was on his way.

When he reported to his first professional team in Idaho Falls, Bobby Scales must have thought the only thing he needed to do was what he had always play hard, get hits, and he would be in the majors in a few years. Except it didn't happen that way...

At first he moved through the Padres minor league system rapidly. By 2002 he had already made it to AAA; then he stopped getting promoted. He left the Padres for a shot to make that final step with the Phillies and the next season with the Red Sox. Both years, he stayed in AAA. He signed with the Cubs thinking this HAD to be his shot... And still he stayed in AAA. In total Bobby Scales spent 11 years and 3,303 minor-league at-bats before getting that call.

On May 5th, 2009 at Chicago's famed Wrigley Field, a 31 year old rookie named Bobby Scales was the starting second baseman for the Cubs. In the fifth inning he stroked an opposite-field single off reigning CyYoung winner Tim Lincecum. After the game he said "It was worth the wait... No matter what happens the rest of the way, they can't take it from me. I got it. I earned it. And I'm just fortunate to have it."

For the rest of 2009 must have been a blur as went back & forth from Iowa to Chicago. He played in 51 major league games for the Cubs collecting 30 hits, including 3 home runs. He spent 2010 down in AAA Iowa before getting a September call, seeing another 10 big league games.

In the spring of 2011, he was back to Iowa after losing out to Darwin Barney in spring training. Still playing hard. Still collecting those hits. Still looking for a real chance. Still hoping the game will love him as much as he loved it.

Last summer I got a chance to meet and laugh with Bobby Scales. A week later he got a call from Japan's Nippon-Ham Fighters, and he was gone. You can't blame the guy, he had earned the right to cash bigger paychecks and a deserved a little love.
“I’ve been in this game for a minute or two... It’s a big-boy business. If you can’t handle it, go do something else. That’s just what it is. If people pass you up, clearly they were doing better than you, or it just wasn’t a good fit, or something. You’ve got two choices- either sit in Triple-A and sulk, or roll up your sleeves and work harder and play better. I chose the latter."

“At the end of the day, all I can control is how I play and how I go about my business every day, and hopefully it’s good enough for somebody. Fortunately for me, it was good enough for the folks in Japan, and I’m ready to go over there and play.”


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