OXEN HILL, MD -- Mark Scialabba came to Williams College from Queensbury, N.Y. spurning some Division I schools to take advantage of the tremendous academic offerings in the Purple Valley and to play baseball all four years as an Eph. "When I went to Williams I did not know what I wanted to do after school, but I wanted to get the best education possible and play baseball," recalled Scialabba.
Scialabba still remembers when Eph head baseball coach Dave Barnard told him that he could come to Williams, urging Scialabba to commit right away. "I just could not turn down the chance to go to Williams with its great academic offerings and the chance to play and knowing I was only an hour and half from home," said Scialabba.
The best things about playing at Williams for Scialabba "were the friends I made for life there, on the field beating Amherst, playing in the NCAA Regionals on Cape Cod, and also the annual Spring trips to Florida."
Twice while at Williams Scialabba was invited to lunch with Eph alum Fay Vincent who had been the Commissioner of Major league Baseball and former American League star player Larry Doby. "Fay Vincent actually tried to steer me away from a career in baseball," Scialabba noted with a chuckle. "He told me the only good place in baseball was on the field, but if I was going to pursue a career in baseball I should make sure I got a secondary degree."
"I did an internship with Bear Stearns my junior year and I realized that investment banking wasn't really for me at that stage in life and I began to think about a career in sports," Scialabba recalled.
In Scialabba's senior year Dave Barnard informed him of an opportunity to coach baseball and work at Deerfield Academy. Scialabba graduated with a degree in Economics from Williams in June of 2002 and went over the hills to the east to work in Admissions and coach baseball at Deerfield Academy. He used his time at Deerfield to more fully consider his future.
While coaching baseball at Deerfield, Scialabba became friendly with Professor Glenn Wong who was leading the University of Massachusetts Sports Management Program
After two years at Deerfield Scialabba enrolled in the Sports Management Program at UMass and simultaneously pursued a Masters of Business Administration degree, graduating in 2006. "While at UMass I became Glenn's research assistant and in addition to the classroom work had the opportunity work closely with him on various practical projects. He eventually became an extremely valuable mentor and friend," stated Scialabba.
Mark Scialabba '02
The Eph baseball teams Mark Scialabba played on
2002 -- Batted: .437 (38-126) with 9 2Bs, 13 HRs,
2002 -- NESCAC Player of the Year
2002 -- All-NESCAC First Team
2002 -- ECAC-New England First Team
2002 -- Played in New England Collegiate All-Star Game
The summer prior to enrolling at UMass, Scialabba through the efforts of Glenn Wong, secured an internship with the Pittsburgh Pirates at their training complex in Bradenton, Florida. Dave Littlefield, who had graduated from the UMass Sports Management program, was the General Manager there and he mentored Scialabba over that summer.
"After my first year at UMass I went to work in the Cape Cod League where I was the Assistant General Manager of the Brewster Whitecaps working under the General Manager Dave Porter and again this job came about through my contacts at UMass," Scialabba said. "I ran the day-to-day operations and managed the roster and that is where I started to evaluate players for the first time. This was where I realized that I could combine my academic skills with my baseball knowledge. I had figured out where my strengths were. I had an economics and statistics background from my time at Williams and UMass and a baseball background that helped me get started in a career in baseball."
"Ultimately the job of the Director, Player Development is to maximize the ability of every player we sign, hopefully to develop into Washington Nationals players or to increase a player's value so our President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo can use that player to make a trade with another Major League club to fill our needs," Scialabba said. "Our scouts sign players as young as 16 years old in the Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries and also select high school and college players in the MLB Draft. We also will sign minor league free agents and acquire players in trades. In order to monitor and evaluate our system I travel constantly during the season. If the Major League team is home I'm usually at that game, but out of 180 days in a season I'm probably out on the road 150 times attending a game in D.C. or with one of the seven minor league teams."
"We also have an academy in the Dominican Republic that operates 10-11 months and a complex in West Palm Beach, Florida and it is in operation 11 months of the year, so you're really talking about tracking 250 players," Scialabba added.
"We have some 50-60 personnel who are working with these players. Everyone from managers to pitching, hitting coaches to trainers, strength coaches, hitting coordinators, pitching coordinators, infield, outfield, base running and catching coaches, various medical personnel and consultants. It's a tremendous staff and they all ultimately report to Doug Harris our Assistant General Manager and on a daily basis. Fortunately by being based in D.C. I get to see all of the levels and am involved in whatever the Major League Club is experiencing based on the baseball calendar and season."
|Mark Scialabba '02/ DH & 1B|
"Our reporting system is critical," Scialabba said. "We receive daily reports from our seven minor league teams. The manager who also communicates writes the reports after each game on a consistent basis with our coordinators, Doug and myself. Pitching and hitting coaches also have a voice and communicate through the reporting process as well. We're keeping track of what is happening on a daily basis and I am in constant contact with Doug, Bob Boone, our VP, Senior Advisor to the General Manager and Mike Rizzo. Strong communication is vital because we need to know what each player is capable of and each player fits into our system at that time or maybe down the road. We are constantly having to move players from team to team to fill holes and hopefully to promote prospects to the next level when warranted to continue their progression."
"We're now approaching the trade deadline which is an interesting time where we might be able to strengthen our Major League club in the hopes that we are playing in meaningful games down the stretch and extending our season. The planning and strategizing never ends. The planning and strategizing never ends. While we are playing games towards the second half of the season and as we ultimately play our last game we are already focused on preparing for the next year and beyond," Scialabba added.
"The preparation for the following year includes roster management, free agency, the Rule 5 draft, and salary arbitration, while always trying to think of ways to improve our roster for the short and long term through potential trades and acquisitions, so it never really ends. But it is something I really love, because it is always evolving and is such a diverse landscape with new challenges throughout the year."
Scialabba has hosted a number of Eph students interested in pursuing careers in sports during Winter Study. Most recently Beau Horan '16 (baseball), Margo Beck '18 (softball) and Bobby Schneiderman '18 (soccer) have worked with the Nationals staff. "When I am able I enjoy communicating with Williams students looking to go pursue a career in baseball or professional sports in general," Scialabba stated. "Obviously I can't provide them all a Winter Study opportunity or a job, but I try to share valuable career advice that can hopefully give them an idea of the pros and cons of the industry. Beau Horan was terrific when he was here and I was excited to hear that he is now working in the analytics department for the Detroit Tigers. Margo Beck '18 worked with us and she did a good job too so I hope she will get her start towards her career in sports soon, if that's what she wants."
"I loved my time at Williams and I was able to go to my 10-year Reunion, but Reunions are tough because they are usually around the time of the June Draft. If there is an opportunity to make it back for a Reunion I would be excited to return as I always enjoy connecting with my Williams friends," Scialabba said.
Mark Scialabba, his wife Meredith, and daughter Sydney live in Washington, D.C.