The Best Things to Happen to a Scrappy Ballplayer


Life as a scrappy ballplayer has its disadvantages.  Lower salaries, a lack of respect in the weight room and sleeping six to a room on road trips.  That’s not to say it doesn’t have its perks.  After all, you can do no wrong in the eyes of the home town fans.

Aspiring ballplayers can imagine themselves in your shoes.  Frankly, you wear the same size.  Men respect your courage and would love to share a beer with you.  And then, maybe make you rake some leaves.  Women can imagine snuggling up to you while watching a Hugh Grant movie.  Big spoon or little spoon, that’s what you say.  You’re so versatile.

Yeah, being scrappy isn’t so bad.  While it’s hard for analysts to quantify what you bring to the team, there are certain events that stand out as pinnacle moments across your gritty career as an underprivileged professional baseball player.

You may only see the field as late-inning defensive substitution or as a pinch hitter to lay down a critical sacrifice bunt, so getting that uniform dirty is essential.  Fall down in the batter’s box, dive for a ball way out of your reach.  Whatever you have to do.  Dirt is tangible proof that you were in the action.

The ultimate is when your uniform rips or tears.  Polyester is regarded as one of the most durable and reliable pieces of fabric on the planet, but even it can’t handle your heart and determination.

Regular player equivalent: hitting a grand slam


You just got the call to the Big Leagues and the home team’s fan base knows very little about your journey.  What they do know is that you’re 5′ 7″ and have a first name that ends in “y”.  Because the equipment manager has prepared his arsenal for roided-out orangutans, you strut out to home plate in a uniform that is a size too big and a jersey number in the high 50′s.

After fouling off eighteen straight pitches, you strike out taking a cut on some high gas.  It was a good effort and the home town fans reward you with a standing ovation.

Regular player equivalent: HR in first at-bat


For most baseball players, there are awards that accompany on-the-field accomplishments.  All-Star appearances, MVP votes, Silver Slugger Awards.  But those accolades have a direct correlation with the box score.  And unfortunately, the official scorer doesn’t track heart and determination.

Fortunately, there are less-formal endowments for the scrappy ballplayer.  Earning a nickname is the highest such accolade.  Wonder Dog, Little Mac, Super Joe, X Factor, The Secret Weapon.  Sure, catchy first names earn you instant credibility in Scrappyland…but you haven’t iconified yourself in a fan base until they’ve given you a monicker.

Regular player equivalent: having your number retired


Positional versatility is one of your best traits.  It enhances your fan appeal because you look out of place anywhere on the field and it provides parents an opportunity to tell their son, “See honey, that could be you.”  There’s no place a position player looks more out of place than on the pitcher’s mound.

This event is extremely important because it’s traditionally accepted with a sacrificial attitude, when his team is down by 11-runs in the 5th inning and the bullpen needs some relief.  It also serves the purpose of adding yet another position to the scrappy player’s robust résumé.

Regular player equivalent: hitting for the cycle




  • Martin says:

    Can we get a scrappy hall of fame?

  • Bill Simmons says:

    How about sucking donkey nuts and being dominated by the guys who can really play? That’s how it is with you guys. Leave the witty writing to the real pros like me, will you? You’re Skip Shumaker and I’m everyone in the majors who can actually play.

    Now, pardon me. Jay Mohr is due for his 5:00 nut tugging.

  • So So So Taguichi says:

    I may no pitch – but i plenty strike out and hustle.

  • Craig Young says:

    I think we can add one more.
    “getting the baserunner over”

    Nothing is more rewarded in St. Louis than an eager September callup with a #60 jersey swinging for the fence, but merely hitting a clunker to 2nd. But hey, Danny Descalso was on 2nd, and he just got to 3rd on your shitty groundout. result – standing O

    Regular Player Equivalent – a real prospect getting a basehit

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