Small-Town Heroes: Images of Minor League Baseball

Small-Town Heroes: Images of Minor League Baseball

Small-Town Heroes: Images of Minor League Baseball

Small-Town Heroes: Images of Minor League Baseball


In 1993 successful psychologist and journalist Hank Davis undertook an epic journey exploring the atmosphere and culture of both minor league baseball and the small towns that embrace it. Davis shows us the warmth, quirkiness, and desperate energy of minor league ball, from encounters with future stars to those who would never make it to the "show"; from the kids selling Cracker Jacks outside the park to the aging coaches who persevere out of sheer love for the game. As Davis says, "the minor leagues are full of stories," and he tells some of the best of them here. A new afterword by the author dis-cusses where the minor league players are now.


Steve Scarsone was the first professional baseball player I saw in his jockstrap. Way before I thought of writing this book, I walked into what I thought was the ticket office at Labatt Park in London, Ontario. It wasn’t. It was the visitors’ clubhouse. Scarsone, the second baseman for the aa Reading Phillies, was the first guy I encountered. Standing there in his jockstrap, he was in no position to sell me tickets.

“How ya doin’?” he said.

“Good,” I replied. “You?”

“I need to bring my average up a bit,” he said.

It turns out that was an understatement. Scarsone was having a terrible year. Although he was their second selection in the January 1986 draft, the Phillies were on the brink of giving up on Scarsone. He finished the season at Reading hitting .179 and struck out several times the afternoon I saw him. the next year, Scarsone was sent down to Clearwater, a demotion to Class a that had “last chance” written all over it. He hit .275, improvement enough to earn a midseason return to Reading.

I saw him that next summer. He looked better, still not exactly Robbie Alomar out there, but no longer overmatched by aa pitching. I remember the day vividly, because Reading lost both ends of a double header to London. It was a long, hot, frustrating afternoon. At the end of it, Scarsone sat alone in the dugout, his head in his hands, looking thoroughly dejected. I was transfixed and stood there unnoticed for several minutes. It was as naked a scene as when I first met him.

When Scarsone became aware of me, he rallied what little energy was left and asked if there was something I wanted him to sign. “No, I don’t want anything from you,” I told him. “I just wanted to tell you something. I saw you play here last year and I saw you today. I wanted you to know it was like seeing two different guys. You’ve really improved.”

Scarsone got up and came over to the corner of the dugout closest to where . . .

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