In the immortal words of the great Yogi Berra: “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”
It’s a saying that Ty Scott is taking to heart as a senior at Bryan College. The Calgary native is having a career year with the Lions as they chase a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championship.
In 49 games, Scott is hitting .357 with seven home runs, 32 runs batted in and 15 stolen bases for a team that is ranked 17th in the NAIA. His efforts earned him an Appalachian Athletic Conference second-team honour.
“He has been an example of consistency at the plate and in the field this season,” the news release said of Scott. “The Alberta, Canada native leads the league and ranks fourth in the NAIA in doubles with 21 and his 106 assists were good for fourth in the AAC and 34th in the country.”
It’s been a continuation from the shortened 2020 season for Scott, who was hitting .417 with four dingers and 15 RBIs before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The psychology major is self-aware about what’s been working for him and how his mindset has changed his on-field approach.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that slowing things down and not getting too caught up in emotions is really important for me,” Scott told Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast. “My thought process through at-bats is clear and not distracted, which has helped me over the last couple of years.”
He admits it was a struggle to get back into the swing of things after the year away from the game because of the pandemic, as he could find a good rhythm in the fall. He says he finally took a deep breath and things started to come together.
“In the end, it’s a game,” he continued. “We’re out here having fun, you can’t take it too seriously, even though you’ve put so much work into it and you’re so passionate about it. It’s a game.”
THE GAME HE LOVES
Growing up in Calgary, Scott first tried soccer but after a couple of years, didn’t think it was for him. His parents let him pick his next sport: tee-ball.
“They never forced me to get into it and they never put any pressure on me,” he remembered. “It was just me trying to enjoy playing the game.”
He made his way up to the Calgary Redbirds program, where he played with future Atlanta Braves phenom Mike Soroka.
“We knew there was something special there,” Scott recalled. “He looked clumsy at first. He had big feet and was short and chubby. But as the years progressed, he grew into his body and then his arm became electric.”
In grade nine, Scott and some friends started doing some research on what they could do to keep playing baseball. They looked up Vauxhall Academy of Baseball, which Scott thought would be a great fit as he says he was never really a home-body.
He tried out, hoping to make the team for Grade 10, but lost out on the spot to a local player: Nolan Rattai.
Scott recalls the phone call he got from coach Les McTavish about not making the team.
“I told him that I thought he was making a mistake, but I also said that it was all good,” he laughed. “It was a cocky, arrogant moment from me. But that kinda built that fire inside of me.”
He used it as motivation to make the team in Grade 11, and stayed there for two years. He enjoyed being immersed in the game, while making life-long friendships in the process.
“It was an amazing and unbelievable experience,” Scott said. “It was pretty much college before college.”
LIGHT MY FIRE
The fire that developed inside Scott while he was at Vauxhall hasn’t been extinguished over the years at Bryan.
“Even now in my fifth year here, that fire is just burning,” he stated. “Every time I wake up, go to the cage, or step on the field, it’s always there. I just love the feeling of throwing on the spikes, stepping on the dirt, and giving it everything I got.”
He adds it’s easy to work hard and give it his all.
“Why not, right?” he laughed.
It’s a lesson he thinks about when asked about the message he would like to send to young players trying to chase the baseball dream in his home province.
“Each year, you learn something new about the game and you learn something new about yourself as a player,” Scott said. “Each year, it’s key to take that, understand that, put it in your brain and continue to grow from it.”
He saw his greatest growth as a player during his worst college season. As a sophomore, he hit .258 with the Lions and worried about losing his place on the roster. But he persevered and is now reaping the benefits from what he built.
“Establish a very good work ethic early on, and from there the love of the game will just take over,” Scott advised. “If you’re truly passionate about it, the hard work becomes easy and then everything else flows into place.”
During the pandemic, Scott came back home and worked with his father and brother, admitting he spent more time with family than he had spent in the previous six or seven years.
The time away also gave him a renewed perspective and appreciation for being “lucky” to play the game he loves.
“You can see it in the dugout as we’re always having a blast,” Scott said. “Even at practice, we’re always chirping and having fun. We’ve just grown to have an appreciation for the game.”
He adds he sees it in the eyes of the teams the Lions face.
“It’s not as uptight about things,” the 5-foot-9 shortstop said. “We’re laughing and having fun with other teams. I think it’s a baseball community-wide feeling.”
He believes the time away from the game during the pandemic gave everyone a moment of pause.
“There’s an understanding that you don’t know how long you’ve got to play this game and you might as well enjoy it while you have it,” Scott said. “It’s nice to see and it’s refreshing, as there’s a weight off your shoulders, just going out and having fun.”
They’re playing a game.