Bobby Scales On Making It To The Majors

Bobby Scales, a 31-year-old infielder, played 11 long seasons in the minor leagues. Then, one day the phone rang and he got called up to the Chicago Cubs. In the next six games, he proceeded to wow everyone. Scales shares his story.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Here's a feel good movie idea: baseball hopeful toils through 11 long seasons in the minors, endures endless bus rides, bad food, rinky dink motel rooms. He keeps hoping for a break in the Majors, but the seasons come and go. And then, one day the phone rings. He's called up to the Chicago Cubs and in less than two weeks he proceeds to wow everyone. It's the true story that 31 year old infielder Bobby Scales is living right now. And Bobby Scales joins us from the club house at Wrigley Field. Bobby, congratulations, this is turning out to be quite a season for you.

Mr. BOBBY SCALES (Second Baseman, Chicago Cubs): Thank you very much Melissa. And thank you for having me.

BLOCK: You bet. Your start has been described as blistering, and let's get a sense of just how good you have been. You are batting over .400, last night you drove in four runs with two doubles. That must feel great.

Mr. SCALES: Well, it's good, you know, anytime you come into any new situation, you're trying to do your best and put your best foot forward. But there's a fine line between doing that and trying too hard. And I've been able to navigate that thus far.

BLOCK: Navigating that line that you're talking about, is that a tricky thing, to keep that balance?

Mr. SCALES: I don't think there's any question. Even when you're a younger player and you jump levels when you go from Class A ball to Class AA ball and AA, AAA, you know, you go into a new situation with new teammates and a different environment than you're used to performing in, and I think it's human nature to try too hard and try to, you know, press and just try to impress people so bad that you end up doing the opposite and not playing well.

BLOCK: Well, you had a big moment on Tuesday during the Cubs game. It was the seventh inning, and let's take a listen.

Unidentified Man: Cubs lead this one three-two. Bobby Scales getting a pitch, it appears, against his original organization. And a high, deep drive. Bobby Scales with his first career homer. But he just went around the bases about as quickly as any player in Big League history after a homerun.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Man: How about that?

BLOCK: Bobby Scales, I get chills just listening to that. What is it like for you?

Mr. SCALES: It was amazing. When you're a kid, you're eight years old in the backyard and you're playing with your buddies in the neighborhood and you're playing wiffle ball and, you know, you hit homerun in the winning World Series games. You hit homeruns to win the game and all that kind of stuff. And, you know, it kind of felt like that. It was a nice feeling. And honestly, at the time, I was just trying to find a way to get on base. I led off that inning, and it was a tight ballgame. It was three-two at that point. And fortunately for me, I was able to give us one more run and went on the win that night. And it felt good to do something that really helped the team win.

BLOCK: And you looked so nonchalant. I mean, you did not slow down and savor that moment of your first homerun in the Majors.

Mr. SCALES: Well, honestly, that's kind of just the way I do things. Even in the Minor Leagues, when I hit home runs, you know, I don't dead sprint around the bases, but I, you know, I hit it. It went over the fence. Just make sure you touch all the bases and, you know, get off the field and get on with it.

BLOCK: Do you have the ball?

Mr. SCALES: I do. I do. A young man gave me the ball. He caught the ball in the stands, and he didn't - he just wanted a T-shirt and an autographed baseball, and he was very complimentary. And I think he understood that it meant a lot more to me than it would to him, so he didn't - you know, he wasn't trying to ask me for the whole clubhouse in return for the baseball. So it was nice.

BLOCK: Let's talk about those 11 seasons you've had in the minors, all over the country: 3,300 at bats. You're a substitute in the offseason. What kept you going through all those seasons?

Mr. SCALES: Number one, to support my family. And I think they were so supportive because I really believed that I could play. You talk to different guys and you watch different guys go to the big leagues, and some of them have success. And I'm thinking, I can play with this guy. So let me keep playing. Let me keep plugging along here and maybe I'll get my opportunity. And that's basically it.

BLOCK: Even if you do your job well, as you have been, clearly, you could still lose your roster spot. You could be sent back to the Minors if somebody else comes back.

Mr. SCALES: Mm-hmm. That's very true. That's one of those things - I think the biggest lesson I've learned in all of this: You can take care of things you can control. That's it. I can't control who's coming back, who's coming back when or what else happens. But what I can control is my work ethic. You know, I can look in the mirror at night and say, you know, did you do everything today that you were supposed to do? Did you do your job? And without a doubt, every day, I can look in the mirror and say, yeah, I did that.

BLOCK: Well, Bobby Scales, it's been really great to talk to you. Thanks so much.

Mr. SCALES: Thank you for having me.

BLOCK: Bobby Scales, a 31-year-old rookie infielder for the Chicago Cubs who's come up to the Majors after 11 seasons in the Minor Leagues.

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