Who’s your favorite baseball player? Maybe it’s a modern day slugger, like Aaron Judge or Mike Trout. Maybe you prefer your historic players, like Babe Ruth or Ted Williams.
Me? My favorite player is a switch-hitting utility infielder/outfielder who played in a grand total of 61 Major League games in his career.
Bobby Scales was a 14th round draft pick who had a hard time getting on the field in his first few seasons of Minor League ball, and considered quitting the sport until a coach convinced him otherwise.
Then, in 2009, at age 31, the Chicago Cubs called him up for what could have been his “cup of coffee” (a term for career Minor Leaguers who get to join a Major League team for just one appearance), making his debut eleven years after being drafted. And he made sure he got more than just a “cup of coffee.” He batted an astonishing .444 in his first six games, leading to sports writers asking, “Who is Bobby Scales, and what took him so long to get here!?”
Those eleven years of hustle and perseverance capped off a lifelong dream for Scales. After his first major league hit (off the reigning Cy Young winner, no less), he said, “Nobody can take it away from me. No matter what happens the rest of the way…I got it. I earned it. And I’m just fortunate to have it.”
While his numbers eventually settled down to league averages, and he was sent back to the minors in 2010 before finishing his career playing professionally in Japan, I excitedly cheered Scales on full-throatedly the entire way.
I even made a Facebook page for him that still has 800 followers over a decade later, with status updates like “Bobby Scales doesn’t sleep. He just takes 6-8 hour breaks between legging out triples and inside-the-park home runs.” And yes, I have his rookie card.
While Scales’ MLB career was brief, he did something that 99.99% of everyone who has played baseball can only dream of—play in the Major Leagues. And for longer than just a “cup of coffee.”
His journey didn’t end there. He’s since served as the Director of Player Development for the Anaheim Angels, and served as an assistant fielding coach for the Pirates. He’s a baseball lifer.
Bobby Scales could have left the sport he loves many times during his long Minor Leagues stint. But he followed his passions and reached the pinnacle of the sport. And as special as his first Major League hit was to him, it’s even more special that after all his hard work, he’s still dedicating his whole life to baseball.
It’s easy to be discouraged with setbacks and obstacles when trying to achieve a goal. But Bobby Scales’ journey proves that perseverance can be a very powerful tool to overcome anything that gets in your way