Not many can say they have had a more unusual path to a career in professional baseball than Scott Beerer. The California native went from a pitcher, to bouncer, to emergency medical technician, to outfielder, and most recently, the IronBirds' hitting coach.
Beerer is back this season after joining the IronBirds' staff in 2013 as a hitting coach following his second retirement from professional baseball. From 2014-2015 he was a minor league outfield and base running coordinator for the Baltimore Orioles organization.
Originally undrafted out of high school, Beerer attended junior college at Orange Coast College, where he was a 23rd round pick by the Texas Rangers in 2001, although he passed on the big league opportunity to play Division I baseball at Texas A&M University. Both a pitcher and outfielder, Beerer made the 2003 NCAA All-American team as a utility player, while also making the Big 12 Conference All-Star team as a relief pitcher with a .289 batting average and a 4-0 record alongside a 0.75 ERA in 24 innings pitched. Beerer last played professional baseball for the Norfolk Tides in 2012.
Last week, Beerer took time to sit down and talk about his baseball career and how he approaches his job as a hitting coach for the IronBirds.
Q: When did you know you were good enough to coach and play professionally?
A: I really started to develop in college at Texas A&#amp;M, I was playing both sides of the ball outfielder and pitcher, but at the time I was doing really well as a pitcher. I was asked if I wanted to play as a position player or a pitcher professionally and at the time I thought that my draft status would be higher as a pitcher, so about the time I was 19, 20 years old I really started believing I was a really good player and knew that I could play. As a coach I was a little unsure, because obviously things ended due to injuries for me. At first I wasn't sure if I would be a good coach, nor was I sure that I wanted to coach, but once I came and got involved in it and started getting a love for teaching guys what had been taught to me, I kind of fell in love with it.
Q: You retired in 2007 because the Rockies would not let you become an outfielder. Was it difficult to be not playing and out of the game for that much time?
A: Yeah you know it was very difficult, once I blew out my arm as a pitcher I pitched for 4 more years, but I wanted to hit that whole time so my heart really wasn't in it. It was very difficult, luckily I was given another opportunity in 2009 to come back and rediscovered a whole new passion for the game I had lost. When you're working other jobs, all the sudden I'm bartending and bouncing at night, trying to be a firefighter, going to paramedic school, you really learn that being on a baseball field every day is not a bad thing and not to take it for granted.
Q: Could you have continued to play for the Orioles in 2013?
A: I blew out my wrist twice and it was very tough because I had made such a comeback in my career to climb the ranks and go from pitcher to hitter. I think at the time only two or three guys in the history of baseball had done that. I had such a great Spring Training with the Orioles in 2013. I really started believing I could be on that big league team and two to three weeks into the season my wrist had been hurting me, I wasn't hitting like I wanted to and then it just snapped. I ended up having two surgeries that year and unfortunately due to my age with the injuries I had sustained I didn't get many offers and it was very tough to swallow at first, because I knew I had the talent to play in the big leagues, and it's tough when injuries take you out, not the ability.
Q: What is the most difficult part about being a hitting coach?
A: It's the amount of guys, especially at lower levels and teaching them that less is more and that doesn't mean by any means not working, but the amount of guys. You go to double-A, triple-A, there's 12, 13 hitters, here sometimes you got up to 20, and you want to give everyone equal attention, and with the time and being on the road and the travel it's just very tough so you want to devote that one-on-one time. That's how I learned to hit was one-on-one time, and you want to give them that time, but it's tough being able to find the time to do that with everybody on a day-to-day basis.
Q: You've been the outfield coordinator for the Orioles and this year you get to be a hitting coach again. What part do you enjoy the most about being a hitting coach for a team?
A: It's fun being a part of something, when you're roving you get to see everyone in their development but you never feel really a part of a team. So it's fun to be a part of a team. When I was here in 2013 I had a blast with guys like Yastrzemski and Mancini and Bierfeldt and Kemp and the list goes on and on, but it was fun being a part of that and I'm enjoying this. It took a little adjustment period for me to get back in the rhythm of me being a hitting coach after roving for years and I miss all the other guys in the organization, but it's fun being with one group again and getting to know guys and spending time with guys on a daily basis.
Q: Who has been the most influential person in your baseball career?
A: For me I've had quite a bit, but if I had to put a finger on it Brady Anderson, who is the vice president of our (Baltimore Orioles) team. It's funny how life works. When I was bouncing and bartending I met him at a Foo Fighters concert, and I didn't even want to go to the concert and I told him I was thinking I was wanting to hit and he asked how old I was. I said 26 and he gave me that look like "you're kidding me, you haven't touched a bat in six years," but he started working with me and for him to be as generous as he was and take me under his wing for two years, he is actually the one who called the Rockies and got me that second opportunity and a tryout. He's just been an incredible influence. I've had my junior college coach and Brian Graham (director of player development for the Baltimore Orioles) be an influence for me in my life, giving me the opportunity to coach, so I've learned a lot from these guys and I wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for the people in my life and hopefully I can return the favor to some younger guys in my career.
Q: What is one thing you try to instill in your players that was instilled in you?
A: Compete. Stop thinking so much. As a hitter it easy to start analyzing yourself and you forget to just go out there and compete. When you're out there in little league and you're young and you're playing whiffle ball you don't think about anything, you just go out there, you hit the ball, you have fun and that's the biggest thing. Especially for the younger guys who aren't used to playing seven days a week, they really beat themselves up if they don't have a good game and it's that ability to learn how to bounce back and play on a daily basis and understand that it's a game of failure. As a hitter its one against nine, the odds are already stacked against you, so if you start beating yourself up its going to be real tough, so I try to just keep that (mindset) have fun, and compete, and you against the pitcher and just hit the ball don't overthink it.