It was the chance of a lifetime, an opportunity that only seems to emerge from big-budget Hollywood movies. Hundreds of hopeful ballplayers descended upon Round Rock to take a crack at being the newest Major League Baseball player.
The Rangers, in association with their Triple A affiliate the Round Rock Express, held open tryouts at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock. The tryouts brought in more than 300 baseball players from around the country praying for the opportunity to live out their singular boyhood dream.
“This opportunity means the world to me, and it’s something I’ve dreamt about since I was six,” said Austin-American Statesman employee and former high school catcher John Quintillo. “Besides my fiance, baseball is my No. 1 love.”
The tryouts brought out a range of hopefuls with varying degrees of skill and a number of different motivations for trying out.
Corey Peoples, 23, first picked up a baseball when he was 6 years old in Victoria, Texas. Peoples is on a baseball scholarship at a junior college in New Mexico, and he drove more than 10 hours to try out for his family as much as himself. He said the potential contract could help pay for his mother’s overdue medical bills, as well as provide for his young nephews.
“This opportunity would mean having a chance to pay off my mom’s brain surgery, as well as getting my nephews out of the situation they are in,” Peoples said. “Right now they are all living in a four-bedroom house with eight people in it. They need a place to play.”
Peoples’ brother, Blaine, died last year. He said that he was also trying out in his honor.
Round Rock Express General Manager George King was among the scouts assessing the talent. Although the chances of anyone making it are slim, he said open tryouts are still important and have yielded some success in the past.
“We have a great example on our own roster right now of someone who was lying out there and no one found him yet, and that’s Mark Hamburger, who is a relief pitcher for us,” he said. “In 2007 he walked into the Metrodome in Minneapolis for an open tryout like this with the Minnesota Twins and walked out with a professional contract.”
King also said the tryouts represent a throwback to a brand of baseball that is slowly disappearing.
“It used to be a normal thing in old-school baseball,” he said of the open tryouts. “It’s more rare these days with the sophistication of scouting, but there is still the belief out there that no matter how good that system is, there are still diamonds in the rough. This is the original American Idol. It’s been around as long as baseball’s been around.”
Just as baseball is part of the fabric that makes up America, so too are big dreams. Andrea Newton went to the tryouts to watch her 18-year-old son. She sad he has dreamt of this moment his whole life.
“It just makes me proud just to see him out there giving it his all, ” she said.
According to Rangers management, the team didn’t offer any of Wednesday’s prospects a contract, but were nonetheless impressed with a handful of players. And although no one got the call from the majors at this tryout, the dreams of these lifelong baseball lovers still lives on.
Printed on 07/21/2011 as: Dell Diamond hosts first-ever open tryouts