When spring training began, Steve Delabar, 28, was teaching high school. A severe arm injury had reduced him to playing slo-pitch softball. A few years ago Tom Wilhelmsen, 27, was a bartender. Now both are major league pitchers for the Seattle Mariners.
What does this mean?
On the one hand credit should go to Mariner scouts. They are truly beating the bushes, looking under every rosin bag, trolling high schools, and hanging out in bars in order to find talent to improve the ball club.
Rosin bag from Don Larsen perfect game.
Mariners scouts are like Marines with their “we will leave no one behind” gung-ho mentality. Minor league pitchers discarded because of ineffectiveness, incompetence, or injury will be found, nurtured, and returned to active duty. Like the Frankenstein monster they will be rejuvenated by the Mariners.
On the other hand . . .
As great as the individual stories of Delabar and Wilhelmsen are, it also speaks of desperation. Why else would a major league organization be scouring the country looking for help, any help, from anyone, even those out of baseball. You don’t hear stories like Delabar coming from the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox. Or hardly any other team.
Anypitchers in here?
Maybe top organizations are better at scouting and signing enough good players they do not need to look in bushes, shake trees, or scan the fans in the bleachers behind Wrigley’s hallowed ivy wall for pitchers. Maybe Mariner scouts were looking in the wrong places to begin with.
But the rest of the country take note. Washington State is full of lumberjacks, mountain climbers, bikers, and beer drinkers who eschew dainty little Starbucks. We are rugged individualists who welcome anyone who can pitch because we believe in the American Dream and thumb are noses at pin striped snobbery.
GO Mariners! The real America’s team!