San Diego Padres pitcher Scott Williamson and I have something in common. We both grew up in the same town and went to the same schools. Williamson, 30, is a 1994 graduate of Friendswood High School. He attended Tulane University for two years, then transferred to Oklahoma State University then was selected by the Reds in the ninth round of the 1997 June draft.
Friendswood High School baseball coach Charlie Taylor remembered Scott keeping to himself most of the time and being a two sport player- baseball and golf. “He was dedicated to his sport and worked hard to do the best that he could,” said Taylor. Bobby Black (former Friendswood baseball coach) and I knew that he was talented and felt that he could go on to the next level.
That he did.
Scott played for Cincinnati (1999-2003), Boston (2003-2004) and the Cubs (2005-2006) before recently being traded to the San Diego Padres. In 1999, Williamson won the National League Rookie of the Year and went 12-7 during the campaign with 19 saves and a 2.41 ERA in 62 relief appearances. He has made one All-Star appearance in 1999 and made the first playoff appearance of his career with Boston in 2003.
“The enjoyment came from watching him when he was really on his game working on the batters,” said Taylor.
Williamson is 2-4 with a 5.72 ERA (25 ER/39.1 IP) in 42 combined relief appearances for the Padres and the Chicago Cubs this season. He was acquired by the Padres from the Cubs on July 22 in exchange for minor league pitchers Fabian Jimenez and Joel Santo, and has pitched in 11 contests for San Diego, going 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA (9 ER/11.0 IP) in those outings. On August 26, Williamson was placed on the DL with right elbow strain.
Williamson now resides in the off season in Guilford, Indiana with his family.
Do you ever think about your high school days?
Not really man, I’m getting too old, you know? I graduated in ‘94 so it’s been a long time.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Ms. Jones, my Spanish teacher. She was really cool, and went to my church and she was really good to me.
When you are in town, do lots of people hit you up for tickets?
Oh yeah, definitely and no doubt about that. I have some family and friends from here and not as much now that we have to pay for our own tickets.
What was your most memorable moment in baseball?
Probably pitching in the ALCS in Yankee Stadium with the Boston Red Sox, saving out three games there and winning Rookie of the Year in ’99.
How about in high school?
Probably right before state – playing baseball was a lot of fun. Bobby Black was our coach and it was a fun team and it stuck to this day. It was a great group of guys and we played well together and it was a lot of fun.
Did you ever get sent to the principal?
(laughs) Yeah I got sent a couple of times. The Vice Principal was a good friend of the family and we used to play golf – that helped.
What is the best word that describes you?
I’m pretty hard to figure out (laughs). Probably crazy I guess. A little nutty.
How do you spend your time off the field?
With my family now. I have two kids Reece and Cambrie, and my wife, and basically I’m dad in the offseason now, and try and teach my kids the right way of living and do the opposite of what I did growing up.
Who do you admire most in the sports industry?
Probably Stan Belinda, Scott Sullivan , Doug Brocail, and guys like that that have meant a lot to me in my career and helped me out, and Dennis Reyes with Minnesota. They are tremendous guys and helped me become who I am today.
What is your favorite pitch to throw?
Probably my fork ball, might be my favorite.
What batter do you hate pitching to most?
All of them. I don’t like any of them. They all try to get your job so I don’t like any of them.
Who influenced you the most in life?
Probably my father. I was adopted at the age of four, and my dad took me in and my dad and mom, I can’t forget her, those two people are probably the most influential people that I’ve had growing up. My aunt Ophie was tremendous when I came over to Friendswood and I dedicated my whole baseball career after her so those three people have been tremendous in my up bringing and who I am today.
What’s the best advice you could give a rookie pitcher?
Keep his head on his shoulders and understand that this game is not easy and this game’s about failure and in the game of baseball you’re going to fail more times than you’re going to succeed, so you can’t get down on yourself. You just have to keep going and make it as much fun as you can and try to keep the job aspect out of it.
What age did you start pitching?
I think my dad let me start pitching when I was about six or seven years old.
If I had a different job, I’d be…
Probably an agent or something in business law.
How is playing for San Diego different than other teams you’ve played on?
Being on the west coast, the travel is a little longer but its better weather and it’s a great bunch of guys, and this has been a great trade for me getting out of Chicago and come to a winning team. There are a lot of guys on this team that I’ve played with before and it’s exciting.
Do you feel pressure on your shoulders when you are called into the game?
I don’t feel pressure, you know. The only time I ever felt pressure was my first time when I made my debut in the major leagues. You go out there and you can’t think about that kind of stuff. You go out there and do the best that you possibly can and when that little white ball leaves your hand there is nothing you can do about it. Stay positive, that is all you can do.
People who knew me in high school thought I was….
Probably a good guy. I tried to do the best I possibly could and I didn’t want to mistreat anybody and I think I was very versatile.