TAOYUAN, TAIWAN – You don’t get rich as a baseball scout, but it’s very fulfilling. A smiling Bernie Beckman, a Dutch national team scout who was in the stands before Wednesday’s United States-Venezuela game at the Premier 12 at Taoyuan Stadium, could tell you that much.
His career says it all. Ever since signing a professional contract with the Detroit Tigers organization at age of 16, Beckman has fully been involved in the sport in various ways.
As a player, he was a pitcher, the highest level he reached was Triple-A. According to baseball-reference.com, he was 71-81 in 10 seasons the minors.
He continued to make a living in baseball even after his playing days were over.
After being part of three MLB organizations (the Tigers, Dodgers and Cubs) and clubs in the Dutch League as a player, Beckman, who has dual citizenship in the Netherlands and Canada, became director of baseball for the Canadian baseball federation for nine years. During that time, he served as manager of the country’s national team in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
After that, Beckman traveled to Taiwan, where the inaugural Premier 12 is currently being played. He was there for two years to help start up a new professional league, called Taiwan Major League, in the mid 1990s, when severe gambling problems hit the older Chinese Professional Baseball League.
“TML asked me to set up all the foreign players who came over and played in Taiwan, which I did,” Beckman, 65, told the Japan Times. “We actually brought over 45 players. We brought a lot of former major leaguers, Triple-A ballplayers, high-caliber guys. And I ended up coaching a Taipei team, Gida. I did that for a couple of years.”
TML started in 1996 and operated until 2003.
Beckman then coached in the Netherlands and even had a stint with the Australian national team as a pitching coach.
“And now I’m involved with the Dutch baseball federation,” said Beckman, who was with the team during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. “I’m very proud of that aspect, not only did I coach in their head class for four years, now I’m helping the national team as a scout. This is my second year doing that.”
As a scout for the Netherlands, ranked No. 5 in the world, Beckham works as an advanced scout for international competitions like the Premier 12.
“But it’s just a part-time job,” Beckman said. “My full-time job in Holland is that I’m a director of the academies there. One academy, we’re doing that for players 18 and under. And I’m promoting baseball in the schools in the Netherlands. So basically that’s it, in a nutshell of a long, long career.”
Meanwhile, scouting methods in baseball have become a lot more advanced than they used to be because of new technology continuously being introduced.
Beckman calls himself “a little bit old-fashioned” with the way he does it, but understands that it’s “part of the game” today.
“And major league teams are using computers and programs to make their jobs much more thorough,” he said.
Beckman lets other scouts handle the technology portion of the job. Instead of having a computer in his lap, he uses his own eyes to spot intangibles technology can’t.
“You look for everything, whether it’s injuries or anything you can pick up, how they play their defense and so on,” Beckman said. “Yes, that’s put into computers nowadays, especially in the big leagues. But with our budget, what you got to work with, you do the best you can, and it has more of a personal touch than just being computer programs. So you give your personal opinions. Whether the coaching staff uses them or not, it’s up to them. But it does work. It definitely does.”
With support from its scouting team the Dutch, which reached the semifinals of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, may shock the world again in the Premier 12.
The team beat Taiwan 7-4 in its first game of the tourney on Monday.
In particular, Beckman appreciated the unity of the Dutch team, which consists of players from different locations in the Netherlands and Curacao.
“I admire the loyalty of the players within our all framework,” said Beckman, who added that the popularity of the sport in the country is increasing.
“These players are proud of playing for the Netherlands. I think that’s very, very important. We have our best players out there and we’ll see how far we’ll go.”
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