I’ve wanted to go to Italy ever since I read John Grisham’s Playing for Pizza. Visiting (and eating in) the actual cities behind the names of famous dishes sounds delightful.
Scott spent the summer of 2006 in Italy coaching the Godo Knights baseball team. Players ages 18 – 36 with a great disparity of experience and ability played in the 40 game short season.
“It was awesome. One of these days, I’d love to go back and take my family. They gave me a house, a car, and 20 free meals at a restaurant. Whatever the chef decided to make that day was what you ate. Your only choice was between salad or ice cream.”
His team was located between Bologna and Ravenna. They played one game on Friday and doubleheaders on Saturday. In between the doubleheaders, the locals would feed the teams and the fans. Three hours in between games for pasta and desert. I could definitely play baseball in Italy, even if I’d be the oldest player on the team.
Scott went because the team needed an English speaking coach. He described how conversations between coaches and the players took forever, having to find the right one or two people who could translate was like talking in circles.
Since he had Sundays and Mondays off, Scott was able to see the sights.
“I even got the chance to run with the bulls.”
Scott grew up in LA cheering for the Dodgers and cheers the Cardinals as well. He played in the College World Series as part of the 2003 MSU team under Coach Guttin and is now in his 7th season as the head coach of Drury.
“We start recruiting players their junior year of high school and understand the impact that we can have on them as they grow into young men. Of course they’ll make mistakes at that age. But we hope to minimize those mistakes and help them mature as thoughtful young men.”
Drury is a small, private college with high academic standards. It’s one of the final schools on Kaylea’s collegiate list. The combination of student size and stringent academics creates a smaller player pool.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way. These are great young men and great athletes.”
We started throwing the ball in the indoor training facility that will be relatively quiet over the next month. The college students have finals this week and don’t get back to scheduled practices until January 10. There is a high school camp this upcoming weekend; I volunteered a glove, not knowing how I could conceivably contribute.
A catcher at heart, Scott’s comfortable at a variety of positions. He’ll throw hundreds upon hundreds of batting practice pitches, but he never took the mound collegiately. Thankfully, I got the chance to see his pitching repertoire.
He gave me a few pointers about pitch recognition and how their facility is designed to give hitters every advantage possible, discerning between fastballs and off-speed pitches in the critical first third of a pitch.
Springfield is a fantastic baseball town. Between the Cardinals, MSU, and Drury, I have been so fortunate to meet amazing people like Scott who are making this world a better place through the greatest of games.