June 27, 2005

MOONLIGHTING:

Scout's return to baseball eclipses his run as a player (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 6/27/05)

Get Mack Babitt going on one of the favorite topics in his life -- the blessings that have come his way -- and you may never get a chance to speak.

He'll tell you about his three children -- daughter, Ashley, 18, and sons Zachary, 15, and Miles, 12 -- and how "they've made it easy for me as any parent can have it." He'll mention the one fledgling year he spent in the major leagues, even though it nearly killed his love for the "sport that's been so good to me."

He'll discuss the myriad individuals who have helped him become a major-league scout, part-time radio host and occasional guest television analyst.

Oh, and he'll also let you know about his father's favorite disc jockey.

"He'd come on the air, and one of his things was, 'Hey Rooty, Booty, Shooty, Doody,' or something like that," Babitt said. "My dad loved it."

Thus was born "Shooty" Babitt. Finding folks who refer to him by any other name would be only slightly less difficult than hitting a major-league fastball.

"Of all the blessings that have come my way, that's as big as any," he said.

Don't look now, but Babitt's profile in the Bay Area has never been bigger, and that's saying something considering he's been here all his life. A Richmond resident now, Babitt grew up in Berkeley and was a two-time prep All-American at Berkeley High School.

These days, Babitt often can be found milling about the batting cage before almost any Oakland A's game at McAfee Coliseum or sitting with a pack of fellow major-league scouts near home plate.

During the season, his voice fills the air waves on "Inside Baseball Saturday Night" along with co-host Marty Lurie, and he occasionally works as the lead analyst during pregame shows on Fox Sports Net.

Much of it, he said, can be traced back to the recognition that has come from having such an unusual moniker. But make no mistake, the success that Babitt, 46, has enjoyed evolved from an unmistakable trait.

"He is an extremely passionate guy," Lurie said. "When you have passion for baseball, and I mean this in a completely complimentary way, you don't think before you speak. People ask you a question, and you shoot from the hip, so to speak. You're going to be seen and heard for who you are. That's what we have here."

Indeed, baseball is one of the two great loves in Babitt's life. But it remains that way, he said, only because the other great love in his life -- his family -- gave him the strength to reconcile the bitterness he had toward the sport long after his playing career was finished.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 27, 2005 6:39 AM
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