Human Condition: These scouts surely knew their stuff _lowres

 

Several years ago, I had just finished a Sheetrock and painting job and was waiting for the owner to pay me. It was summer and just beginning to turn dark. The owner was talking to two well-built athletic types in gym shorts and LSU shirts — not unusual as we were in Baton Rouge.

The owner, A.J., finally finished talking to them. I had to ask him who those two guys were. He quickly answered they were scouts. The words took me aback — “Scouts?” I thought. “What kind of scouts?” I asked. The word just didn’t fit in my thinking. “Baseball scouts,” he said, in his usual nonchalant manner.

The dots just weren’t connecting. Finally A.J. said, “They want my sons to play baseball at LSU.”

Now I was really confused. I had seen his sons around the house a few times, and one was about 11 or 12 and the other about 9 or 10. Neither one was that big. So my mind was wondering how did LSU scouts know a 10- or 12-year-old was going to be good enough to play college ball? I could understand if they were 16 or 17, but at 10 or 12?

Not only that, A.J. said, “The scouts think they will play professional baseball.”

OK, now things are bumping into one another in my mind. You see, I had known A.J. to be an honest man, and I believed him. I know every dad wants his child to be outstanding, but the point I kept wrestling with was not that they weren’t good, but how did these scouts know these 10- and 12-year-olds were going to be that good?

I never tried to judge the kids, but what did I know? As it turned out, these scouts surely knew their jobs. One of A.J. Nola’s sons is Aaron Nola and the other one is Austin Nola.

So here we are years later, and Aaron and Austin both played for LSU and now play professionally — Aaron for the Philadelphia Phillies and Austin for the Miami Marlins.

— Cefalu lives in Baton Rouge

Advocate readers may submit stories of about 500 words to the Human Condition at features@theadvocate.com or The Advocate, EatPlayLive, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810. There is no payment, and stories will be edited. Authors should include their city of residence.