When Brad Sloan graduated from Quincy College with a business degree, the plan was for him to join his father at Caterpillar, where Sloan was set to go into management training.
The idea didn’t compute. Sloan couldn’t picture himself spending his adulthood in a suit and tie. He couldn’t walk away from baseball.
The late George Bradley, who had gotten to know Sloan over the years, scouting him at the high school and college level, approached Sloan about getting into scouting.
It was, Sloan said, a no-brainer. He may not be in uniform, but he was in the game, at the ballpark.
“Straight out of school,” Sloan said. “It seemed like George Bradley had known me forever. We stayed in touch over the years, and he was always talking about me staying around the game. It seemed like every year we’d run into each other, and he would stop and chat.”
Thirty-eight years later, nothing has changed. Sloan’s still scouting, looking for that hidden gem, and he loves it as much today as he did back in 1981. And on Wednesday night, he will be recognized as the Midwest Scout of the Year.
Don’t down play the role of his wife, Cindy, whom he married the year before he became a scout.
“She was around even before all this started,” he said. “She has seen the good and the bad.”
She “handles everything” because Sloan is on the road more often than not, looking for the next diamond in the rough.
And she was there when Sloan became an oddity in the world of baseball, where teams are constantly wheeling and dealing, but rarely does it involve a swap of scouts.
In the fall of 1992, a year after Padres scouting director Randy Smith had resigned to assume a role in the front office of the expansion Rockies, Sloan decided to move on, as well, and became a national cross-checker for the Mets in 1993.
In the midst of that season, Smith returned to the Padres, this time as the general manager, replacing Joe McIlvaine. The ensuing off-season he brought Sloan back to San Diego, sending area scout Brian Granger to the Mets in exchange for Sloan.
He’s embraced the highs and lows of a scouting career in which he has spent time with the Padres (twice), Mets, Angels, Braves and the last three years with the Red Sox in a special assignment role. And he admits his proudest moment came the past October, when the Red Sox won a world championship.
“There’s that ultimate feeling of accomplishment for an organization,” he said. “I had been (with San Diego in the World Series) two other times and we were blown out of the water. Being part of an organization that wins a World Series is a big deal.”
It is part, he said, of what has been a big year for him, which is capped off by his recognition as the Midwest Scout of the year.
“To be honored by your peers, to look at the list of past recipients, it’s humbling,” he said. “It makes the moment special.”