Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Milton substitute teacher heads to big leagues

Courtesy Appen Newspapers

May 13, 2009

After 1,013 games, 3,303 at-bats, 942 hits and stops in Fort Wayne, Lake Elsinore, Portland, Mobile, Scranton, Pawtucket and Des Moines, Bobby Scales is finally in the big leagues.

Scales, 31, was called up to the Major Leagues May 4 to take Carlos Zambrano's spot on the Cubs' 25-man roster after the pitcher was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Scales gives the Cubs a backup infielder; they don't need another starter until May 7, when Randy Wells is expected to be called up from Triple-A Iowa.

Scales' time with the big league team may be limited, and he's going to make the most of it."I'm happy he's here for a couple reasons," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "The biggest is because this man has endured for a long, long time in the Minor Leagues. He's getting an opportunity here after 10, 11 years. It's a really, really nice story."

Scales was batting .303 at Iowa with three homers and 10 RBIs in 21 games. He can play second, short, third, wherever the Cubs need him.

"Now I don't have to be looking for a pitcher to pinch-run," Piniella said.

Scales was in Chicago April 30 just in case the Cubs decided to put Aramis Ramirez on the disabled list. Ramirez was determined good to go, and Scales went back to Iowa. He didn't tell his parents about the trip — he called it a "pump fake" — but word got around quickly about this call up.

"This is everything you hope for when you get a chance to play professional baseball," Scales said. "Some of us late bloomers have to wait longer than others, but I made it and that's half the battle."

He's gone through the scenario of his first big league call up several times."As you get a little older, you try not to think about it because you don't want to go there mentally and be disappointed," he said. "You think about it from time to time but you bury it in the back of your mind. Fortunately, today's here for me today, and I'm happy to be here."

Being a Minor League lifer means Scales can't rely solely on his baseball career for his income. In the offseason, he's a substitute teacher near his home in Milton. Right now, he can enjoy big league meal money.

"He's the kind of guy you root for," Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said. "He's paid his dues, he's rode the buses, he's made all the 4 o'clock wake-up calls in the [Pacific Coast League] and grinded it out and never said never. He's a great example to all the kids out there. When you get an opportunity, make somebody rip your jersey off before you quit."

Why did he stay with it this long? "A lot of different things," Scales said. "From the baseball side of it, just a belief I could play. It may sound hokey, but I knew in the depths of my soul that I could play this game. I felt I could help a big league team win games in whatever capacity that a manager saw fit to use me. I knew that. That's part of it and the support I got from my family. My wife, my mom and dad have been unbelievable."There's a lot of people doing a lot worse than Minor League baseball players. It's tough sometimes to make ends meet. It's harder on your family because you're gone a lot, and there's not money to fly home on off-days. I just had the belief I could play here."

From Appen newspapers =>Editors note: This story is reprinted with permission of

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