Boston Red Sox Scout, Terry Sullivan’s Speech
First of all, let me first thank those who opened doors for me in the scouting world, namely Phil Rizzo, Harvey Kuehnn, Jr. and most significantly, Stan Zilienski who was my advocate and teacher.
To the officers of the Pitch and Hit Club, most directly President Ken Miller, Treasurer Terry Ayers, and President John Dittrich, all of whom I have watched for years work on projects outside of their own personal lives in order to make the Pitch and Hit Club serve idealistic objectives.
And to all the Pitch and Hit Board Members, particularly the tireless Pete Caliendo, Jack Gallo, Jim Hall, and Al Budding, all of whom have been honorable gentleman while trying to create opportunities for kids.
Pitch and Hit has been with us since 1942 and has survived as an organization i an ever-changing Chicago-area baseball scene simply because it’s mission has always remained unselfish. It attempts to use baseball as a teachable moment for kids from all backgrounds.
While so many other groups have faded away, Pitch and Hit has survived, certainly because of the individuals it has drawn to its purposes. Gentlemen and Scouts like Charlie Humm, Nick Kamzic, Bill Prince and Walter Milles and today the likes of Ayers and Caliendo, Miller, and Gallo feel strongly enough abut it’s value that they push on — and it hasn’t been easy — my gratitude to all of your for this moment, this evening.
I want to affirm for you the kind of fraternity that is the scouting department of the Boston Red Sox. In support of me this evening, at my table, are Crosschecker Fred Peterson who has traveled from Lincoln, Nebraska; Assistant Scouting Director Steve Sanders, who has flown in from Boston; Scout Quincy Boyd, in from Charlotte, South Carolina; and Scout John Pyle from Lexington, Kentucky — proof not only of their deference to me but also proof of the Red Sox respect for the efforts of the Pitch and Hit Club.
And of course, my highest gratitude and appreciation to the hero in my life, my wife Marie who always understands. My sons, Jim and Pat and my lovely daughter, Julie. They are the enables who made me eligible for this award. Without my wife Marie and her sacrifices, I would have never come to know the Pitch and Hit Club, nor the Boston Red Sox.
The two most frequently asked questions of scouts are: “Who are you here to see?” and “Do you get a commission when you draft a player or if he moves up in the organization?”
Rarely will a scout tell you who it is he is here to see. Most people would think it is because this is top secret company information. The truth of the matter is that all scouts are chasing the same names. There are no secrets.
The reason for the evasive answer to the straightforward question of who we are looking at it that scouts dread the thought that some kid will think that this today is the biggest day of his life and that they will succumb to the tension and fear that if they aren’t perfect they will never have another chance and go on living with the regret of having failed. A scout’s silence is his obligation to protect against youngsters who might go living with false regret.
Do scouts get bonuses or commissions if players make it? No, never, none. The bonus is knowing that you are the gatekeeper for some kid’s dream come true and that somewhere along the long road there is going to be a kid whose life you are going to change forever. It’s an elusive and rare day, but when a scout calls to tell a family that their son has been drafted and the screams of elation and tears of joy can be heard in the background, that — and only that — is a scout’s bonus.
So, now you need never ask again. And you will know why scouts lurk around, alone in the background at ball games or huddle together behind home plate feeling secure amongst themselves.
Good scouts say little until the phone call. They are willing to remain anonymous, willing to be lonely on the road, willing to spend far too much time away from family and willing to withstand the pressure from those above them to get players right every time.
All of this is okay, all of this is tolerable because when your guy comes out of the dugout at Fenway or Wrigley or the Cell, you get your bonus. Nobody will know that it was you who made the call … except for the unselfish types at the Pitch and Hit Club and the heroes in your own home.
Speech delivered by Boston Red Sox scout Terry Sullivan of La Grange, IL at the 67th annual Pitch and Hit Club Dinner. January 27, 2013, Lombard, IL