Final Inning

A Baseball Scout Back in the Day

By Dave Goins

For me, nothing that summer was like the thrum of American Legion baseball. It was 1982. Fresh from college and pursuing a freelance sports journalism career on a diet of ramen noodles, store-bought pizza, and cheap beer, I spent a lot of my time at Caldwell’s Simplot Stadium, covering home games of the Silver Streaks Legion team for the Idaho Press-Tribune.

Beyond the stadium’s business-billboard fences, the summer scene was defined by railroad tracks and the Caldwell Night Rodeo. Sometimes during those lazy evening innings, trains would traverse the tracks, slipping through the season’s high desert heat, bound for somewhere in America. Baseball is America. So that was perfect. That was my backdrop for watching baseball in Caldwell.

At Simplot Stadium I first met William Bryan “Pat” O’Connor, the lightly redheaded, pot-bellied, and immensely popular guru of the local baseball scene. Everyone called him Pat. A Caldwell native and seemingly omnipresent fixture at sporting events, Pat was a professional baseball scout in those days, and onetime general manager of the Chicago Cubs’ Caldwell-based minor league affiliate. He also owned a local sporting goods store.

He had graduated from The College of Idaho some five decades earlier, and he asked what my major had been in college. I told him English.

“An English major!” he exclaimed, in mock excitement. He said when he was in college, an English major had become romantically involved with his girlfriend and had replaced Pat in her affections. From then on, he called me “the English major.” I took it as his way of being friendly.

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