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GRASS ROOTS BASEBALL
Roger Williams
August 29, 1960
Major league tryout camps are a summer fixture. Here's a personal look at one of them
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August 29, 1960

Grass Roots Baseball

Major league tryout camps are a summer fixture. Here's a personal look at one of them

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There was an honest-to-goodness bonus boy at the camp—Bob McCauley, the No. 42 with the Sox uniform. McCauley, a husky 21-year-old, had been signed by Detroit in the summer of 1959 for "a little over $10,000." He went to spring training last year as a first baseman, was sent to Knoxville for a couple of days, then on to Erie of the New York-Pennsylvania League. He hit .169 in 118 games and was packed off to Holdrege (a Chicago White Sox farm) in the Nebraska State League. "I did just so-so there. I wanted to pitch some, but they always said no."

This spring McCauley was released. He still had the bonus money, but he was on his own again. He now plays around Providence whenever he can, hoping for another chance in organized ball. "I'll keep trying for one more year. After that I don't know. You can't keep going to camps. You can't become—what do they call it—an athletic bum. If I can't be a ballplayer, the hell with it. I'll do something else." Had Woodall or Dugan given him any encouragement? McCauley shook his head. "Hell, they got everybody in the state scouted already."

McCauley looked like a hitter, but he didn't hit. "He's strictly a fastball hitter," said his buddy, Al Bodington, a Providence College student, as he watched McCauley at bat. "Doesn't like curves or lefties. See that? Curves really jock him."

Both McCauley and Bodington made the camp all-star teams (I did not) that Woodall announced after the second day's workout. "Boys," said Woodall, "it's obvious we all can't be pros, but I hope you'll all keep trying. I've been in baseball since 1915. It's a wonderful game, and you'll get a lot of pleasure out of it. Now for you boys who didn't make it—this doesn't mean you're not as good or even better than those who made the team. But we just do our best in picking you. Thanks for coming out, I hope we've helped you, and be sure to come back again."

Woodall and Dugan went off to pore over their rating cards (their reports are sent back to the Boston farm office; the good players are earmarked, and scouts are told to keep an eye on them). Cars swung out onto Peerless Street, and the field was soon deserted. Behind the third-base stands a couple of 10-year-old kids were playing catch. One dropped a throw, and the other yelled, "You're a donkey. Next one who misses is an ape."

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