Being the nephew of a baseball icon in your home state can be hard enough.
Following in his footsteps is even harder.
Mac Sceroler has gone his whole life with the distinction of being former LSU baseball great Ben McDonald’s nephew — a fact he’s constantly reminded of, considering his role as a pitcher for Southeastern Louisiana.
Everywhere Sceroler goes, people ask about his Olympic gold medalist uncle, the No. 1 draft pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 1989.
Sceroler doesn’t regret McDonald’s presence in his life for a moment, though. He views it as an advantage on the competition to be able to call Uncle Ben for some first-hand advice about the time he pitched in a College World Series — both times.
“I need to try to make a name for myself,” Sceroler said. “It’s cool because, growing up, he taught me what he used in the big leagues and in college that helped him get to where he is today.”
But Sceroler isn’t the only Lions player to have the distinction of being “XYZ’s nephew/brother/son/grandson.” Southeastern coach Matt Riser has gathered some of the top baseball genes from around the state.
Players like freshman Scottie Sanders — whose father, Scott, was a first-round pick by the San Diego Padres out of Nicholls State — are littered throughout the roster. It’s a more literal approach to Riser’s “baseball family” philosophy although, as of now, most of the pedigree comes from other programs — a fact he hopes to change soon.
Riser said he likes the idea of his players having a strong support system at home. Baseball is a game of failure, and it helps to have someone behind the players to keep them from losing motivation.
“You have to able to move on, and having those guys who have been through it before and been through the fire before, they can relate to them, share with them their stories,” Riser said.
Such is the story of Southeastern catcher Chris Eades, who found his way on the Lions roster after transferring from LSU — where his brother, Ryan, was a starting pitcher before being picked in the second round of the 2013 draft by the Minnesota Twins. Even though Ryan is currently in Fort Myers, Florida, with the Twins’ High Single-A team, Chris still talks to his brother every night for advice and guidance, both on and off the field.
It’s a bond forged in tragedy; their father, Ned — a longtime baseball coach at Northshore High in Slidell — died when Chris was 9.
“We just push each other to work hard and chase our dreams and one day hopefully play pro baseball,” Chris said. “(Ryan) was the only father figure I had growing up in my life.”
And while Ryan was completely supportive of his little brother’s decision to transfer from LSU, it can be hard for players to spurn family tradition.
Freshman Taylor Schwaner’s family tree is so deeply rooted in the UNO baseball family that it was a foregone conclusion that he would follow in the family business of playing for the Privateers.
His brother, Nick, finished in the top 10 in several of UNO’s all-time categories, including hits and RBIs. Taylor’s father, Scott, played on the Privateers’ 1984 College World Series team that faced future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin — a story Taylor said his father enjoys telling. And Taylor’s great uncle Tom was UNO’s coach from 1986-99.
But despite the history, Taylor chose the Lions.
“When I was 10 years old, I used to bat boy out there for (UNO). It’s obviously a big part of my family,” he said. “Everyone thought I was going to go there for college.”