How does a baseball scout make it to a hall of fame?
You taunt Alex Rodriguez, or toss a prospect’s clothes into the middle of the clubhouse.
You chart games, sitting behind high school, college, minor league, major league and Cape Cod League backstops, then stay up until 3 a.m. doing paperwork.
You crunch numbers yet rely on a gut that sometimes lets you down. You take blame but every once in a while see that teenager you pegged as a star actually become one.
You see something special in Chuck Knoblauch and rave about him until your colleagues see it, too.
You suffer a stroke and lose a toe and keep working, knowing that working in this case involves hoping the teenagers you chart will someday win a championship for your organization so you can celebrate in anonymity.
You try to predict the future while knowing that nobody really can.
Last weekend, Larry Corrigan, 66, was inducted into the Fort Myers Miracle Professional Scouts Hall of Fame. Last winter, he was named Midwest Scout of the Year at baseball’s winter meetings.
“L.C.,’’ as so many of us know him, was an All-America at Iowa State. He played in the Dodgers and Twins systems, coached at ISU and less-glamorous stops and wound up in scouting because when the game is in you you have to stay in the game.
He signed on with the Twins in 1988 and wound up working as everything from minor league field coordinator to scouting director. The Pirates hired him away for four years, but he returned.
Now he lives in Fort Myers, where he can catch spring training and Class A games at the Twins’ and Red Sox’s parks, then drive home and churn out more reports.
“I’ve gotten a couple of honors this last year,’’ Corrigan said. “My wife doesn’t want me to say this, but you do wonder if it’s because I had a stroke and people want to be nice to me. Either way, it’s humbling.’’
I met Corrigan in 1993, just as the Twins were transitioning from the most admired franchises in baseball to one of the most pitied. During eight straight losing seasons, Corrigan remained a friendly, optimistic figure. He drafted Torii Hunter in 1993 and kept telling me the guy would make it. Eight years later it turned out he was right.
He missed on prospects, too, as they all do, which drives scouts to stay up even later, either because of workload or worry.
“Once a season starts — heck even in the offseason — I’m not very good at getting away from the game,’’ Corrigan said. “It’s a lot of hours in the day. It’s kind of a sickness. I’m such a wacko.’’
Last year, “sickness’’ was no longer metaphorical. On May 3, he was working a game at Dickey-Stevens Park in Little Rock, Ark. He tried to write, and the pen slid across the paper.
He spent a month in an Arkansas hospital, then a month rehabbing at home. Recently, he had to have a toe amputated because of a bone infection.
“I’m back to being a normal human being who doesn’t have to go to the doc all the time,’’ he said. “We bought a place down here in Fort Myers, and I hopefully will live out the rest of my life here.’’
He really did lambaste Rodriguez after a high school game, and became the scourge of young players throughout the Twins’ system.
Corrigan has adapted to the new age, and now holds a computer on his lap while watching games from behind the backstop. He never stops praising Terry Ryan, his old boss, and said of the Twins’ new bosses, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, “They have treated me awfully well. I’ve been in the hospital so much and every time I talk to them their voices are so beautifully positive.’’
A scout to the end, Corrigan reverted to scouting patios.
“I’m way on Terry Ryan,’’ he said. “And I’m way on these guys.’’
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at MNSPN.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org