SAN DIEGO _ The discussion with Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt was on the most pleasant surprises out of his tenure with the franchise. After a hand full of names were mentioned, Schmidt was curious.
“What about Nolan Arenado?” he asked.
“Well, he was a second round pick,” he was told.
“If I had any idea he’d be as good as he is, you think I would have drafted three players ahead of him?” asked Schmidt.
Schmidt is the epitome of an ego-free scouting director. He his quiet by nature, and respects the opinions of the scouts who work, as Schmidt puts it, “with me, not for me.” Like when Danny Montgomery, acting on a tip from George Tech baseball coach Danny Hall, pushed him to take Charlie Blackmon, a left-handed relief specialist in his first three years at the junior college/college level, who wound up playing the outfield his senior year at Tech, and was overlooked by most teams.
Schmidt, however, isn’t overlooked by his peers, who have honored him this year as the West Coast Scout of the Year.
It’s been quite a ride for Schmidt in baseball, who played one year of college baseball at Long Beach State at which time he realized as much as he loved the sport, he had no future on the field.
“I was going to go into the business world,” he said. “I was an accounting major.”
Listen in to Schmidt's acceptance speech:
Scott Pickler, an assistant coach at Magnolia High School in Anaheim when Schmidt was in school, got the head coaching job, and hired Schmidt, who was still in college, as an assistant.
“I loved coaching baseball after that first year,” said Schmidt.
Baseball’s gain was the accounting world’s loss.
At the age of 21, he became the head coach at Magnolia High School. He was hired by the Expos as an associate scout in 1981, and the next year became a part-time scout for the Reds, who also had him as the hitting coach for their short-season Billings affiliate. He was a coach at short-season Helena in the Brewers organization in 1986, and after three years as an area scout for the Major League Scouting Bureau, he was hired by the Yankees. He worked as both a scout and a coach at short-season Oneonta from 1991-93 before turning his attention full time to scouting.
Schmidt joined the Indians as a national cross checker, and when Dan O’Dowd was hired as the general manager of the Rockies in the fall of 1999, he brought Schmidt with him from the Indians to be the scouting director, a job Schmidt has held ever since.
“When I got into scouting there were icons, guys like Paul Snyder with the Braves, Freddy McAlister with the Cardinals and Ben Wade with the Dodgers, who had been with their organizations for 25 to 30 years, and I told Dan I wanted to be one of those guys,” said Schmidt.
He is getting close. Having just completed his 20th year in Colorado, he has definitely had an impact. Consider that in the four years the Rockies have advanced to the post-season, Schmidt’s staff scouted and signed 12 of the 25 players on the 2018 post-season roster, 8 of 25 in 2017, 10 of 25 in 2009 and 10 of 25 in 2007, when the Rockies made their only World Series appearance.
“I had a chance to be helped along the way by so many great scouting people,” said Schmidt. “But if I had to pick one guy to mention, Bill Livesey was so critical to me in making the full-time move during those days with the Yankees.”