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Baseball Scout: John Stokoe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   John Stokoe
was a scout for the Baltimore Orioles for 29 years. He is now retired and lives in New
Hampshire.

How did you become involved with
baseball?


At the age of ten, I started playing for the Kiwanis
league, a town-sponsored team. I continued with that until I got to high school where I played on
the school team and the American Legion team. At Wake Forest, I played all four years of college
ball. After that I signed with the Milwaukee Braves, now the Atlanta Braves. I played four more
years. The Braves loaned me to the Orioles, where I stopped playing when I reached the double
A level.


How did you become a
scout?


When I felt I wasn't going to make it in the major leagues and
I had a family to support, the manager asked if I would like a part-time scouting
job.

Of course, I said yes. Three years later, in 1968, I was offered a
full-time job as a scout for the Orioles.


What do you look
for in a prospect?


That depends on the player's position. If it is a
regular player, such as an outfielder, shortstop or first baseman, I look at five main areas: a
player's running speed, his fielding ability, overall batting ability, his stance and distance
hitting, and last, the ability to play without making errors. If the player's a pitcher, I look at
his throwing speed and his movements on his breaking balls, (which is a slider or a curve ball). I
also look at a pitcher's control. Lastly, I consider his psychology on the mound, or how he remains
calm.


What player are you most proud of scouting?


I scouted Mike Flanagan, a left-handed pitcher who played 16 years in
Major League Baseball. He played 14 years with the Orioles and two with the Blue Jays. He won the
1979 Cy Young award as the outstanding American League Pitcher. Mike still works with the Oriole's
franchise as a broadcaster.


Do you miss being a
scout?


I miss the overall job, but I don't miss the travel, stress or
work. Of course, I do miss being able to see all the ball games, and the friends I've gathered over
my career.

I'm glad I left the sport before September 11. I wouldn't like
to spend all that time having my equipment checked. Much of my equipment would have to be checked
repeatedly.


What is your advice to a teenager who wants to be
a pro ball player?


Hustle, play hard, don't lose your confidence,
listen to your coaches and your parents. Always do well in school as well as on the
field.


What is the most fun you ever had with baseball?


When I was a sophomore at Wake Forest, I played on the mos twonderful
baseball team. Our team won the NCAA championship. The whole experience was
fun.


What is the hardest decision you made in
baseball?


In 1965 I was faced with the decision to retire from
baseball and find another job, or continue and try for the major leagues. I didn't think I was going
to make it to the majors, and I had a family to support. I chose to retire. I was 26 years
old.


Did you always want to become a professional ball
player?


When I was in high school I started wanting to play for
the major leagues, and as I grew older I wanted it even
more.


How did being a scout change over the nearly 30 years
you were involved?


The game became very technical. When I started
scouting, instead of radar guns, we estimated the ball's speed. With radar we're able to make
better scouting reports. When laptops came along, we were able type reports and email
them immediately. Then when cell phones came along we were able to instantly share our thoughts with
the management at home.



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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baseballlink said...
Aug. 31, 2011 at 1:17 pm:
John Stokoe is a credit to baseball and mankind.   I have enjoyed knowing John and playing on baseball teams with him.
 
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