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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Quality time being spent in the bull pen

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hands on learning. Scott Wright works with Dale Slater, of Monett, on proper hitting balance and his stance during a private lesson Thursday at The Bull Pen. Wright, a former pitcher in the Reds organization, dedicates his time to help improve the quality of baseball played in Monett. [Time Photo by Jared Lankford]
In a little building on Broadway, Monett resident Scott Wright invests over 20 hours of his time to help develop the baseball youth in the Monett area.

Wright's mornings begin at 5 a.m. as he gets ready for his full-time job at EFCO. At 4 p.m. four days a week, Wright begins his other job as a United State Speciality Sports Association baseball coach and hitting and pitching instructor at The Bull Pen.

"I played my high school ball in Medford, Wisconsin (200 miles east of Minneapolis)," said Wright, "I was good athlete. I loved to play basketball, in fact I worked hard to be good at basketball, but baseball was just a natural fit for me. I always excelled on the diamond.

"I was a fastball pitcher," said Wright. "My slider was pretty good. Mainly, I just tried to throw strikes. I have always been driven because of a fear of failing. That drove me to want to win every time I took the mound."

Wright played junior college baseball at Triton College in Illinois. At one particular tournament he caught the eye of a coach who would bring Wright's talent to southwest Missouri.

"In the 1990s, Warren Turner from Missouri Southern was recruiting the Chicago area pretty hard," explained Wright. "I was familiar with the Lions program. They had just been to the NCAA Division 2, College World Series. I knew I wanted to go somewhere and play where I could win."

College life in Joplin was good for Wright. He met his wife, Tiffany, who is from Monett, while at Southern and they were married in 1996.

After college, Wright was drafted as a pitcher in the 41st round of the Major League draft by the Cincinnati Reds organization.

"I played four years for the Reds and spent two years playing in Taiwan," said Wright. "In 1999, I decided it was time to retire from professional baseball and settle down."

Wright moved to Monett and decided that he wanted to share his knowledge with the area youth.

"I had been involved with the Mickey Owen Baseball School," said Wright. "I ran one of the hitting camps, and I just got tired of driving to Springfield after work to instruct. I had several kids from the area already attending private workouts, and it just made sence for me to open a shop in Monett."

Wright opened The Bull Pen in 2009 and has coached several of the area's athletes.

"I hate to see kids playing video games all day," said Wright. "When I was young, I wanted to play outside as much as possible. I want to use my passion to try to help make kids better.

"It brings me much joy to watch kids be successful," added Wright. "Every day, I get to share my knowledge with a new generation of area athletes."

One of Wright's chief mentors is not too far from Springfield.

"I had a lot of wonderful coaches during my playing career," said Wright. "One sticks out and that is Phil Wellman."

Wellman is the current hitting coach for the Springfield Cardinals.

"Phil was a very personable coach," said Wright. "He took time to get to know you. He could be stern, if you made an error on the field but he always turned it into a teaching moment. He made you feel comfortable and respected as a player. I try to incorporate several lessons I learned from him into what I teach my students."

Wright does have some words of wisdom to pass along to kids who want to play baseball.

"No matter what your skill level is, have fun," said Wright. "Parents, coaches and players can easily get burned out if they forget that baseball is just a game and was designed for enjoyment. Kids don't need to be stressed out about playing baseball at a young age. I am here to help anyone who wants to further develop their skills, but mainly just to help kids have fun."

For private lessons you can contact Wright at 489-0629 or e-mail at thebullpen2200@yahoo.com.

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