When Scott Moore was selected by the Tigers in the first round of the 2002 draft, he was a starry-eyed 18-year-old with big dreams — and only a vague idea of what life in professional baseball would be like. Now going into his ninth season, and with his third organization, he knows all too well that it’s not all glory and glamour down on the farm. Moore, who is in spring training battling to earn a job with the Orioles, has appeared in 39 big-league games and 739 in the minors.
David Laurila: How would you describe life in the minor leagues?
Scott Moore: It’s fun, but I don’t think it’s what a lot of people think it is. We’re still playing a game, but travel is tough; getting to visit family and friends is tough. But it’s still a good time — we’re still playing baseball.
DL: Is it pretty much what you expected when you signed your first professional contract?
SM: You know, I’m not sure that I really had any idea what it was like. There’s no…I had never been to a minor league baseball game growing up. I lived in a big city — I was just south of Los Angeles — and grew up going to Dodgers games and Angels games. So I’m not sure that I had an idea of what I thought it would be, but it was definitely an eye opener when I got to see what was going on. I was in Tigertown, living in the dorms, 18 years old and living 3,000 miles from home, and it takes a little bit of an adjustment.
DL: How would you describe Tigertown?
SM: Well, the dorms we lived in are basically a white brick building on the outside, and the same on the inside. You have a little room with two beds in it, and I had a roomie. I still talk to him, too, almost 10 years later. It was Wade Clark, a pitcher from UCLA who played two or three seasons for the Tigers in the minor leagues. He’s from the same area I am.
DL: Did everyone in rookie ball believe that they’d play in the big leagues one day?
SM: I feel like when I was 18 years old and in rookie ball — you know, you can see the major-league stadium at Tigertown from the minor-league complex. You can see it, and we’re 18 and looking over there, and it seems like it’s really far away. But as baseball went on, I realized that maybe it wasn’t that different, that it was more about being consistent and bringing your game every day. That’s really the difference between — honestly — rookie ball and the big leagues, even though it’s five levels of baseball. There are exceptions, like A-Rod and Barry Bonds and guys like that who have crazy talent and are superstars in our game, but as far as everybody else in the big leagues and the minor leagues, the skill level is just about being consistent and playing good baseball every day.
SM: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. In my second year with the Tigers, Willie Horton did a little hitting school type deal during instructional league, and it was really cool to spend time with a guy like that. He was so hands on with us. And then Al Kaline, who works in the front office, showed his face around and talked to guys, and to see a guy who won a batting title when he was 19 or 20 — we’re talking about being in rookie ball at 19 and looking at the stadium, and Al Kaline is a guy who won a batting title very young. So yeah, it’s crazy. It was really cool to be able to work with guys like that at a young age.
DL: How do rooting interests change when you sign a professional contract?
SM: I think that…well, at my age now, I like watching guys that I’ve played with. Whether they’re still with the Tigers, still with the Cubs, or with other teams — I’m just a fan of guys that I played with, who play the game hard, play the game right, and are good people. I think that is more of what it’s about. You build friendships in baseball and no matter where they go, you follow them. And you always want to see them do well. I still have a few guys on the Tigers who I came up with, and quite a few with the Cubs, and it’s really cool to see guys like that and root for teams to do well. Obviously, we’re trying to do well as a team ourselves, but it’s also nice to see your friends do well.
DL: The Orioles are your third organization. From your experiences, how differently do organizations treat the players in their minor-league systems?
SM: I think that everybody has a different way of doing their job, and running things, but as a whole…obviously, the whole reason for having a minor league system is to build guys to be in the big leagues one day to help your team win. So no, they treat us great. Everywhere I’ve been has been awesome. They want us to succeed; they want us to do well. They do everything they can to help us out. That’s how it’s been everywhere I’ve played.