“I truly believe if you really love something, work at it, have the right mindset, you can do what you want,” Scott Heineman, 26, told Circling the News.
In his case, Heineman’s dream was to play Major League baseball, and it came true this summer when he made his debut with the Texas Rangers.
The former Palisades resident was playing with the Triple A Nashville Sounds this summer when he was called up to play for the Rangers on August 2 against the Tigers in Detroit. He started in center field and batted seventh. His first at bat against Tyler Alexander, he flied out deep to center field, but on his second at bat, he singled to right field.
When you’re moved up from Triple AAA, the call goes out to your family and friends, and in this case Scott’s parents, Steve and Kathy, managed to catch a flight and arrive at the ballpark in time to watch their son get his first hit.
After the game, Heineman was showered with Gatorade–a ritual among players to honor those who achieve a milestone in their career, such as their first hit in the big leagues. He continued to be showered in the locker room with baby powder and other items.
“It was the best shower I ever had,” he said.
Shortly after joining the Rangers, Heineman was sent back down to Nashville. “It’s not what you want,” he said. “But, it’s part of the process. I’ve been seeing it with players for the past four years. You just keep trying to get better on a daily basis. You don’t look too much into it.”
Fortunately, he had a chance to return to Rangers on August 19, and he played through September 28, when he went 2-for-2 against the Yankees.
On the season, Heineman played 25 games for Texas (in the outfield and at first base) and hit .215 with 6 doubles, 2 homeruns and 7 RBIs.
September 3 had special meaning for the Heineman family. Scott hit his first home run that day in Yankee Stadium and his older brother Tyler, a catcher, was called up from Triple A New Orleans by the Miami Marlins.
Heineman’s parents are both from New York, his dad from Manhattan and his mom from Rochester, and “It’s one of my favorite stadiums—even though it’s a replica,” Scott said. That day, his sister, aunt and cousins were in the stadium, but Heineman did not enter the game until the seventh inning.
In the ninth, however, he blasted his homer (though the Rangers went on to lose, 10-1).
A player’s first home run ball generally goes back to the player, but in this case, after the fan threw it down on the field, the Yankee ball boy threw it back in the stands, not realizing its significance.
An announcement was made, and a fan showed up–with a decoy ball. Officials deemed it a fake, and then the real home-run ball was found.
Heineman shook hands with the 15-year-old who had it and gave him a ball, which he had signed: “Thanks for catching my first HR!” Scott also gave the kid and his dad a bat.
Looking back on the season, Circling the News asked Heineman who the toughest pitcher he had faced in the Majors. “I’d have to go with the Angels’ Andrew Heaney,” he said, noting the lefthander “mixes it up well. He has a high inside fast pitch and a fading away change up—he’s got a good pitching arsenal.”
Heineman grew up in Pacific Palisades but played Santa Monica Little League (his dad was a policeman) and then high school ball at Crespi. As a senior, he was named first-team All-Mission League after batting .358 with 26 runs scored, 24 hits, 19 RBIs, two doubles and three triples.
College scholarship offers had started arriving when Heineman was a sophomore, including Division 1 powers USC, Fullerton and UCLA, but he eventually chose the University of Oregon. He recalled that all those offers made him think, “Oh wow, I have a chance to play at a Division 1 school and get better.” And the reality of playing Major League ball now seemed possible.
After a strong career at Oregon, Heineman was drafted by Texas in the 11th round in 2015. He started at the A+ level with the High Desert Mavericks, then it was AA with the Frisco Rough Riders, then AAA with Round Rock Express and finally Nashville. He was the Rangers’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2018.
Heineman credits college with helping to prepare him for the majors. “I worked with a coaching staff that has been doing it so long,” he said. “There were guys who had worked as professional players.”
But equally important, “I was working with a group of teammates that all had the same dreams and goals.”
With the World Series now underway, Heineman is already busy with his off-season training. Typically, he works out about six times a week at Pro-active in Thousand Oaks.
“I lift four or five days, hit four or five times a week,” he said, noting he might also take physical therapy. “You have to listen to your body.”
When younger players ask his advice, he tells them, “Never be satisfied. If you want something badly you have to work for it.”
Heineman also emphasized that the teenager years should be a balance between academics, social life and sports. “Academically you have to do well in school,” he said, noting that this gives kids the opportunity to work with like-minded people in college.
And socially, “You might miss a trip to the beach with your buddy to practice,” he said. “Some say they want it, but they aren’t willing to work for it.”
He also points out that baseball has never been “work” for him. “It should never be work, especially at a young age,” Heineman said, noting that if the sport starts to be work, then maybe it’s not the right sports path.
If you would like to meet Heineman and his brother Tyler, they will be at Trade Fest II in Santa Monica Friday, October 25, from 7 p.m. to midnight and again on Saturday from noon to midnight. The event held at 1855 Main St. in the Santa Monic Civic Auditorium will benefit the Santa Monica Police Survivors Fund and Team Prime Time Sports (which allows special needs kids to play on high school teams).
The two-day event features trading cards, kids card-collecting classes, sports, games, a Krispy Kreme donut eating contest, a raffle, a magic show, a silent auction and dunk-a-cop. Admission is free. (Visit: bullpenla.com).