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© 2008 Ron Swoboda

Ron Swoboda
1969 Miracle METS
The way I developed any ability to attract professional scouts was by playing for two people. The first was an amateur team in Baltimore named Gordon Stores, which was a cleaning company that no longer exists. The guy who managed that team was a fellow by the name of Sterling "Sheriff" Fowble. This was a team for sixteen-year-olds that played in several leagues in the city, and we played a pretty high caliber of ball. If your team did well you played in a tournament that ended up having a championship game in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, which is where the Orioles used to play.

The team that really made the difference for me was a couple of years later when I played on a team called Leone's (Boys Club), which was a sixteen to nineteen team. I played for them one year, and we played at least eighty or ninety games - I don't remember the exact number - but during the summer you played two and a half months of everyday baseball.
We'd usually play two games on a Sunday, and of course lots of practice. I played for a guy named Walter Youse, who was a scout for the Orioles. He was really professionally oriented about the way you played, along with the way you were expected to dedicate yourself to the game based on the professional model. I played every day in the summer and believe that this concentrated program is what really helped me to sign a professional contract.

We played in the Johnstown (AAABA) Tournament in Johnstown, PA, which still goes on today. This was one of those places where you'd play and the scouts would come and see you. Interestingly enough, when it came to signing a contract, "Sheriff" Fowble was a bird dog scout with the New York Mets and brought to the tournament a regular scout named Wid Mathews. Wid Mathews was the scout who signed Stan Musial back when he was working for the Cardinals.
Wid came to our house and offered me a number. So I signed with the New York Mets, who were my original team.