Robin Wallace always had a clear passion for baseball. She loved the game she grew up playing, but never thought being a professional scout was an option. It wasn’t until she met Frank Marcos, senior director of the MLB Scouting Bureau, at the 2011 Baseball Winter Meetings that she decided to switch gears and pursue a career in scouting.
The Baseball Winter Meetings occur once a year during the MLB offseason. The league’s general managers and agents work on free-agent contracts, and those interested in working in baseball can attend a job fair and find potential job opportunities. After Wallace attended the meetings Marcos extended her an invitation to scout school.
“It was a lot of hard work, but I loved it,” she said in an interview with MLB.com. “I worked my tail off and did surprisingly well. I had no idea what it was all about, what it was going to take. It was an amazing experience. For the first time in several years, I was thinking, ‘I feel alive again. I’m happy again and I want to be back in baseball. If this is something, if I can find an opportunity here, this is where I think I belong.'”
MLB only has around 20 to 30 full-time scouts, but Wallace eventually earned her spot in March 2014 when she was offered an amateur scouting position in the New England region. She made history as the league’s first full-time female scout.
Scouting in baseball is different from other professional sports. In the NBA and the NFL, players who are drafted immediately make the professional roster. The same year they’re drafted, they make their professional debut. In baseball, players who are scouted have to work their way through the minor league system, most players don’t even make it to the big leagues.
Wallace’s region includes the Cape Cod League, one of the most prestigious summer baseball leagues. Players who have competed in the league include No. 1 overall draft picks Adley Rutschman and Spencer Torkelson in 2019 and 2020. Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, and George Springer of the Houston Astros have also all played for Cape Cod.
In an interview with Chelsea Adams for Mobile Bay, Wallace said scouts look for more than just hard statistics. She also evaluates who players are on and off the field; is this a player you want representing your organization and what type of leader or teammate are they, are just a few of the qualities that Wallace looks for.
“They tell you at Scout School that you’ll never watch a game the same way again,” Wallace told Adams. “You’re not just passively watching; you’re breaking everything down almost in slow motion. Then you’re taking notes, jotting everything down and grading the players. When you add up the numbers, you ask: Is this a prospect? Can I foresee him in a crystal ball being a major league baseball player?”
Becoming the first woman to be a full-time scout wasn’t the first gender barrier she broke in the sport. Growing up in Alabama, as a middle schooler, she became the first girl to play on a private school’s baseball team for St. Luke’s Middle School. Then in high school she made the transition to softball only to realize she loved baseball more.
Wallace’s love for playing the game never dwindled. She joined the North American Women’s Baseball League and was a member of the USA Women’s Baseball team that won the gold medal in 2004. At the same time, she worked as an assistant GM for North Shore Spirit and then general manager for Nashua Pride. She also climbed through the ranks in the North American Women’s Baseball League, eventually becoming the executive director. The combination of her playing experience and her front office work led to Marcos’ invitation to scout school.
“I love the game, I’m passionate about the game,” Wallace told MLB.com. “It seems to work for me. It’s something I can succeed at and do well at. I find satisfaction and also can give something back to the game. I am aware of it and I am happy that in the process of pursuing my goals and dreams that I might open the doors for other women.”
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