Injuries may have derailed Butch Baccala’s major league dreams as a player, but his influence as a scout, where he served as an Area Supervisor, Regional Crosschecker and National Crosschecker, is still felt at the game’s highest level today.
Now the VP of Scouting for Program 15 and the New Balance Future Stars Series, that ability to properly and fairly evaluate a player is as important as ever, and is a role Baccala takes very seriously. But the baseball lifer doesn’t view it as giving back to the next generation of players, instead focusing on the position he’s in to help make those dreams he once had come true.
“I look at it as being an extreme honor to be an evaluator that can influence schools or people so that it may lead to a scholarship or an opportunity for a player,” he said.
“You always want to help kids who had dreams, because when I was a player, I had huge major-league dreams and you’d like to be able to do that for another kid. A lot of times, we’re a dream maker, and a lot of times, we’re a dream breaker.”
Baccala, who is in both his high school and college’s respective hall of fames as a player and was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, has made a lot of those dreams come true with the Atlanta Braves as a Regional Crosschecker, then the Cincinnati Reds as a National Crosschecker, and lastly the Seattle Mariners where he started as an Area Supervisor and then circled back later in his career as a National Crosschecker.
He also runs the California Academy of Baseball, which is a partner of Program 15, for whom his responsibilities are to make sure that every player that comes to one of the Program 15 combines or events is properly scouted and evaluated to best of their abilities.
“I’ve always looked at it, even when I was an area scout or regional crosschecker or national crosschecker, as just going to a bigger playground,” he said.
“On those bigger playgrounds, you see better players. You’re just trying to give a fair evaluation. These evaluations go out to different schools and different coaches, so you’re just trying to help a get be noticed by a school that maybe he wants to go to and maybe open the door to an opportunity.”
After Baccala worked together with P15 and NBFSS CEO Jeremy Booth in the scouting department with the Mariners, the two were searching for an opportunity to work together again.
“When we were both with Seattle, I had a tremendous amount of respect for Jeremy,” Baccala said.
“In the draft rooms, Jeremy would always speak his piece and he was accountable for the region he worked in. Plus, when he would go around the country scouting players, he was a stand-up guy and he gave a fair evaluation. For a guy in my position, as the national crosschecker, you knew when he gave you an opinion that you could really count on it.
“That evolved, as we grew together in Seattle, (and I knew) that we were going to work together some day. Last September, I think it was, he calls me and says, ‘Are you ready to come to work for me?’ I was ready to do whatever he wanted me to do and was happy to be a part of a team that he was involved with.”
Booth was more than happy to bring him aboard.
“Butch and I met when I was doing Southern Texas and Louisiana for Milwaukee and he was doing the west coast for Seattle,” he recalled.
“When the Mariners called to bring me over to do the Midwest, Butch was someone I had already spent some time getting to know. The thing about Butch is his passion; the man genuinely cares about the game, players, and the people he works with. When I moved over to take the West and spend more time with our affiliates, my first question was to make sure Butch was moving up. He has always had my back and I have his, and I respect his evaluation skills to the point where I don't question him. When we parted ways in Seattle, I knew we would work together again and the first chance I had to make that a reality I took it.”