SOUDAN- A World Series ring was a nice capstone to a long career in baseball for Jack Roddy, and it offered a bit of inspiration this past week to local Little Leaguers.Roddy, a long-time talent …
SOUDAN- A World Series ring was a nice capstone to a long career in baseball for Jack Roddy, and it offered a bit of inspiration this past week to local Little Leaguers.
Roddy, a long-time talent scout for the Atlanta Braves brought his ring and his insights about the game to a recent youth baseball practice in Soudan. While Roddy’s advice was welcome, it was the bling that will probably prove the most memorable part of the day for the young ballplayers.
The large diamond ring, encrusted in diamonds, ruby, and pearl, was embossed in large letters with his last name, is a cherished and valuable reminder of the Braves’ 2021 World Series victory. Yet, valued at over $25,000, it’s a keepsake that spends most of its time in a safe deposit box, said Roddy. Which made Roddy’s recent appearance all the more special.
As each of the players got a chance to try on the ring, there were big smiles as they struck the classic World Series pose. Roddy also showed the players the smaller, plain gold, World Series band, designed for regular use.
Roddy retired at the end of the 2021 championship season and now lives in Soudan. He grew up in California, but his parents were from the Twin Cities, and they had honeymooned on Lake Vermilion back in 1948. When he was a boy, his family bought their own cabin on the lake, and it soon became his “favorite place in the world.” He now calls Soudan his home.
“Baseball,” he told the kids, “is all about having fun.”
And when he was scouting for both college and professional teams, determining if a player was having fun was an important part of the process.
“They play better if they are having fun,” he said. “You also want to see a player who hustles 100-percent of the time, before and during the game.” Other important factors are players who show a positive attitude towards their coaches, along with hitting the ball hard and throwing the ball fast.
Roddy shared these tips with the young players, some who will go on to play in high school, but others who probably will end their baseball careers after Little League.
“Play every game like someone is looking,” he said.
Working with players this age is his favorite, he said.
“It is so fun,” he said. “The little ones are wide open for suggestions.”
Roddy worked on throwing form, fielding techniques, and other skills during the morning practice session. The kids listened and hustled, and hopefully will show some results during the rest of their summer season.
“It is so much fun helping kids get to the next level,” he said.
He said he was impressed with Little League coach Nate Dostert.
“He really gets it,” he said. “He understands how to coach.”
Dostert’s 11-year-old twin sons were at the practice, and were two of the most attentive during the coaching session. Dostert learned his coaching skills from his father Greg, a longtime Little League coach in Tower-Soudan who started when his boys were old enough for t-ball and continued to coach Little League once they were grown. While Nate has taken over some of the Little League coaching duties, Greg is still in action, running the youth leagues for older players.
“Parents should be involved with their kids,” Roddy said. “They should show up at their games and be enthusiastic. Having a parent around is a great advantage. It doesn’t have to be for baseball. Just for whatever their child is interested in.”
Roddy himself doesn’t have any children.
“My family is the kids that I have helped,” he said. “There are 4,000 kids who know me by my first name.” He keeps in touch with many of them and has watched them grow in both baseball and life, going on to successful careers after they are done playing ball.
Major league scout
As a scout, Roddy said his career really focused on helping kids. And sometimes he got to watch players grow through four years in high school and then four years in college. He mostly scouted players in southern California.
He graduated from college in Iowa, then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree at Texas A & M. His first job was head coach at a high school in Texas, and then he coached and played in the Independent Baseball League in Kansas City.
His first scouting job was for the Los Angeles Angels. But then his boss, Dan Cox, was offered a job with the Braves, and Roddy followed him there and spent the rest of his career with that team.
“Scouts don’t want to stand out at a game,” he said, adding that he would never show up at a game wearing a Braves cap.
“Over my career I scouted over 500 kids who got drafted by a major league team, and quite a few have gone on to have great careers.”
But Roddy is also proud of the fact he has helped many more players who were not major-league prospects get college scholarships to play ball, as well as getting players on independent league teams.
“There is a place in college ball for most players,” he said, “but maybe not on very competitive teams.”
Sometimes players that get picked up by a major league don’t end up with major league careers, but there are other options for those who want to keep playing ball.
“I got a phone call two weeks ago from a player I had scouted who’d been picked up by the Red Sox,” he said. “He had just been chucked from the team during spring training. He was 23 years old and wanted to know what he could do. I found him a place on a team in the independent league in Montana.”
While he is retired from his job with the Braves, he has continued to do some scouting for some college teams, observing players in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Roddy knows that life isn’t just about baseball. There is fishing, of course.
“Whatever I catch, that is my favorite,” he said. He fishes year-round on Lake Vermilion, and now that he is retired, has more time for this second favorite pastime.
Roddy said he is willing to give private lessons to any aspiring baseball player in the area. Please contact the Timberjay if you’d like to get in touch with him. Roddy said while he did charge for such lessons in the past, he now does them on a volunteer basis.
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