Less than three minutes into our late-April conversation at the Dairy Queen in Wheelersburg, Ohio, the vibrations from Tim Martin’s cell phone buzzed on the table separating our upholstered seats. He politely neglected the intrusion and gamely focused on our discussion. A moment later, the phone buzzed again. Then again. And again. And again…..
Forty-five minutes and multiple voicemails later, another buzz rolled across the tabletop. Tim apologized and said, “Let me get this real quick.”
Such is the life of a Boston Red Sox scout, especially this close to the Major League Baseball draft in June.
During the 45 minutes Tim ignored the outside world, the former professional pitcher and present Minford High School baseball coach and Boston Red Sox associate part-time scout provided an interesting peek into the life many young boys dream of living.
He graduated from Minford in 1983 and was noticed at a try-out in ’84 by Pittsburgh Pirates Scout Jim Maxwell. Tim used his 93-mile-per-hour fastball to strike out all three batters he faced. “Jim came up and said, ‘Are you ready to play some ball for me?’” Tim remembered.
Maxwell, who is now deceased, also signed notable talents such as Dave Parker and Woody Fryman, among others. The man knew top-notch ability when he saw it. Tim, 18 years old at the time, was in awe. “Here I was, just a kid and all of my dreams were coming true.”
He was sent to Bradenton, Fla., to pitch for the Pirates’ rookie league affiliate and then to Watertown, N.Y., (short season Class A). While pitching in the Pirates’ farm system, Tim met upstarts Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla, who later became household names in baseball circles. Hall of Famer Willie Stargill was the Bradenton hitting coach and future Cubs manager Mike Quade (2010-11) was one of Tim’s coaches. Dave Tomlin, a graduate of West Union High School and 14-year MLB veteran who presently works in the Red Sox system, was his pitching coach.
While in Watertown, he also played for Woody Hunt, a 2013 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Hall of Fame inductee, who is now the head coach at Cumberland University. Hunt won his 1,400th game April 25 against Shawnee State.
In June of ’85, Tim’s history of arm troubles began working against his dream of pitching in the major leagues. He underwent ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, better known as Tommy John surgery, during his junior year at Minford and recovered nicely. The surgery is named for John who underwent the first ligament-replacement surgery in 1974 as a 31-year-old Dodgers lefty and has become associated with repetitive motion injuries common to pitchers. But, the pain returned to Tim during his professional debut and eventually shut him down.
An early 1986 phone call from Branch Rickey, Jr., then the Pirates’ minor league coordinator, crushed the young man’s hopes. “He said they had to release me (due to his injury history) because they couldn’t put any more money into me,” Tim recalled. “That was the worst hurt, aside from a death in the family, I’ve ever felt in my life.”
Later that year, he tried out for the Cardinals and Brewers, but his medical report resurfaced and pushed him from the game. “I didn’t have anything to do with baseball for nine years after that,” he remembered. “I couldn’t even stand to watch it on television.”
In 1995, Minford head baseball coach Brent Daniels asked Tim to join his coaching staff. Tim acquiesced. Realizing how much he enjoyed helping younger players develop, Tim agreed to take over as head coach the following season. Now in his 18th season, Tim’s Minford teams have racked up more than 300 wins (winning 20 games or more 11 times), and have played 13 times in the district playoffs and twice in the regionals. He has been named Southern Ohio Conference Coach of the Year five times and Southeast District Coach of the Year four times. Forty-six of his kids have moved on to play college baseball.
As Tim’s head coaching career began at Minford in 1996, a chance meeting with a past acquaintance presented another baseball-related opportunity. “Joe Moreland, who scouted me in the early ‘80s, was scouting one of my players,” he recalled of the fateful reunion. Moreland, a scout at the time for the Cardinals’ organization, asked Tim to serve as an associate scout. Tim jumped on board and served three seasons in a part-time capacity for the Cardinals.
Since then, Tim has served as a part-time scout for the Cardinals, Expos, Marlins, and, presently, the Red Sox. Ironically, he was “signed” to his present position by the first prospect he was assigned to observe in 1996, former major league pitcher Jon Adkins, who is now a Red Sox scout supervisor in the Ohio Valley.
From 2000-02, Tim was thrilled to watch Gene Stechschulte, the first player he ever signed, pitch for Tony LaRussa’s Cardinals in three consecutive National League playoffs. In the late ‘90s, Tim persuaded then-Ashland (Ohio) University coach Brad Warnimont (presently the head coach at Rio Grande University) to move the 6’5”power-hitting Stechschulte from shortstop to pitcher.
“He’s leading the league in home runs,” Warnimont protested. “Just put him on the mound,” Tim persisted. “The first pitch Geno threw was 93 MPH,” Tim recalled with a laugh. “I asked Brad, ‘Do you still think he needs to be at shortstop?’” Stechschulte is now the head coach at Ohio Northern University.
In 2001, Tim, along with Dean Schuler, the longtime head coach at Lucasville Valley (and one of six coaches in Ohio with 500 wins), started the Tim Martin Showcase, a local baseball exhibit held in V.A. Memorial Stadium, home of the Chillicothe Paints. Teenagers from seven states and Canada arrive each year to display their talents to an array of college and professional baseball scouts.
The caller who last buzzed our table happened to be Warnimont who was excited about an opposing player he noticed while his Red Storm was travelling. Tim asked questions and scribbled notes. Then, during a pause in the conversation, looked at me and said, “There’s something else I meant to tell you. While I was in the minors, I pitched in the same game as Randy Johnson.”
And then he went back to work.
It appears he’s realized his dreams after all.
Tim Marin and his wife Christine reside in Wheelersburg.