Mark Simon sat down with our new VP of Baseball, Bobby Scales, to learn about his background, why he came to SIS, and his favorite MLB moments!
Where did you grow up – tell us about your family?
Bobby Scales: My dad, Bobby Sr., has been in some form of sales his entire adult life. Once we moved to Atlanta, he and my Uncle Harvey got into insurance and he did that for 30 plus years. My mom Edith worked for 10 years at Highland Park High School in Detroit then for Georgia Power in Supplier Diversity for 28 years. I’m an only child and I grew up in Roswell, Ga. Graduated from Milton High School class of 1995.
(Milton High Big Leaguers are: Kyle Farnsworth ‘94, Me ‘95, Dexter Fowler ‘04, Dylan Cease ‘14).
Where do you live now and tell us about your current family?
BS: I live just north of Atlanta, GA and I have an eight year old son named Bobby III, we call him Trey.
Why are you coming to SIS?
BS: I’m at SIS because my “why” has always been to have an impact on the sports world. Baseball to this point has been my vehicle and my area of expertise. In coming to SIS, I believe that I will impact baseball in a different way than the previous 23 years of my career.
What skills do you bring?
BS: My ability to communicate with people, listen, and help drive solutions to issues is my strong suit. I was always the “glue guy” in most teams I played on. Building a cohesive unit and moving the team or individual to the next dot is something that I take a tremendous amount of pride in. SIS is no different. There is a long history of success in the data-driven solutions industry. My job is to help SIS Baseball stay on that path!
Why do you like baseball as much as you do?
BS: The game is beautiful in that there are individual battles combined with team choreography on virtually every play. The tactical battles between the managers, the battle between the pitcher and hitter both physically and mentally, the choreography of a ball that goes in the gap and the teamwork and decision making that goes into a great relay to a base. It can be beautiful or it can be a debacle. The possibility of these things happening on virtually every play is the beauty of baseball to me.
You had 5,000 pro at-bats, but only a little over 100 in MLB. What kept you going in your pro career?
BS: The honest belief that there were players that were getting major league opportunities that I knew in my soul weren’t as good as me. Especially in the middle and end of my career, looking at games on television and having just played a series against a given guy or a given pitcher.
“That guy had nothing for me last week and now he’s got the ball in the show….c’mon man!!!”
I said that so many times in my career, I had to get there.
You played every position but catcher and pitcher – did you have a favorite?
BS: Second base. My favorite thing was turning a double play because back then they could come get you at second. When a guy came in hard, wiped you out and you still turned it… there’s nothing better.
You’re at SIS – so with our being a company that was built on defensive stats – you’re obligated to tell us about your best defensive play. What was it?
BS: Houston, 2009 Miguel Tejada was making a bid for his 2,000th hit and he hit a one-hopper off the pitcher’s mound, back up the middle. I was shaded that way and I caught the ball about two steps off the back of the infield, then made the “Jeter” jump throw to Derrek Lee at 1st to get Tejada out.
What was your ‘Welcome to the Big Leagues’ moment?
BS: Getting absolutely wiped out on a double play turn by Lance Berkman…..hell yeah I turned it though!
You hit 3 major league HRs. What do you remember about them?
BS: Well, I only hit three, so I remember everything about all of them!
No. 1: Wrigley Field at night, a pinch-hit homer against San Diego in the 7th. Edwin Moreno’s first pitch was a heater up over the plate. I knew I touched it, but because it was windy at Wrigley and I hadn’t played there a ton, I didn’t know for sure. It went in the seats and I was flying around the bases and didn’t break stride.
When I got in the dugout Alan Trammell gave me the throat slash-sign meaning I was done. So, I walked in the clubhouse to change out of my spikes and the MLB doping was there and asked to drug test me!
I thought the guy was kidding, but he was dead serious.
By the time I got out they had already got the ball. A 20-year-old Northwestern student caught it and wanted to meet me. They brought him to the clubhouse and we spoke briefly. I think he ended up with a Derrek Lee jersey and bat for my ball!
No. 2: Wrigley at night, batting right-handed, pinch-hit off Randy Wolf. Battled him for eight pitches, he hung a changeup and I hit it in the seats in left field.
Fun fact: Bobby was 7-for-17 with 5 runs scored and 2 home runs as a pinch-hitter for his career
No. 3 Matt Maloney in Cincinnati. Batting right-handed. It was a fastball in on a 1-1 count and very possibly the longest homer I hit in my life.
Which teammates served as the best example for you in terms of being a good teammate and a good leader?
BS: Derrek Lee, Ryan Dempster, Alfonso Soriano. They all lead in different ways, but if you’re looking at examples of true professionalism, those guys are at the top of the heap.
You’ve spent a considerable amount of time in player development. What do you enjoy most about that?
BS: The best thing about PD is the day-in and day-out quest to help an individual get to the next dot in their career. Whether it was a player, a coach, or a young intern in the office, doing whatever needed to help people advance their careers is something that I really enjoyed. Regardless of what people think, this game is about relationships. Building those relationships is essential to anything we are trying to do!
What are the challenges a player has to deal with mentally when he goes into a slump?
BS: The biggest mental hurdle, when it isn’t going well, is truly remembering that you can hit. When you are in a deep one there are times where you think you are the worst player on the planet and it’s a constant struggle not to go down every rabbit hole you can think of just to get a hit.
For me the worst was all of the people telling you “it’s going to be okay.” Literally everyone in your life is trying to make you feel better and, at the moment, the last thing you need is more voices. Obviously, everyone is different but I used to tell people “If I’m in a bad one…do not call because I’m not answering, let me be mad…I’ll be okay.”
What sorts of things does baseball need to do moving forward to grow the sport?
BS: Let go of the past and do what’s best for today’s baseball!
Baseball holds on to the past as much as any sport I know.
“Honor the past, live in the present and have an eye for what’s next.”
That isn’t the exact quote and I don’t know who to attribute it to but I think it’s very applicable. We have such a reverence for the way things were that it’s held us back from growth. From the written rules, unwritten rules, format/length of the season, marketing of players, hiring practices, etc.
There are a ton of things that are in need of evolution.
Favorite player growing up? Barry Larkin….not close.
Favorite little-known player growing up? Tony Womack because as I started to get older I felt like I could model my game after him and be successful doing it.
Favorite teams? Detroit Pistons/ Liverpool Football Club/ Mercedes Benz F1
Favorite moment rooting for your team? Jan. 1, 1998, Michigan against Washington State in the Rose Bowl. I was a junior at Michigan and it was everything it was supposed to be. We beat WSU, won the Rose Bowl, and the National Championship.