Scouting New Territory
Major League Baseball.Com
Christie Stancil becomes first woman hired by MLB Scouting Bureau.
By Christie Cowles
Would you prefer 'a corner office, or an office that corners?' one car commercial asks. Christie Stancil has chosen the office that corners. Literally.
With the open road and blue sky as her office mates, Stancil wouldn't trade her job for anything. Except maybe the smell of fresh peanuts or the roar of the crowd on a sunny, spring afternoon. But wait, her job description includes that too.
As one of three video technicians for the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, Stancil would say her job definitely has its perks.
"Getting to see the country and also working in the greatest sport," she said. "I just got out of grad school, and here's a chance to work with baseball, do camera work and travel. It basically combined all my loves and things I wanted to do," she said.
Stancil, 25, serves as the East Coast Video Technician for the Major League Scouting Bureau and provides hundreds of video clips of high school and college prospects to the 30 Major League teams.
"I was in Puerto Rico yesterday morning and at the end of the day I was driving through the hills of Tennessee, and that was one day," said Stancil, who originally is from Raleigh, N.C. and now lives in Orlando, Fla. "It's just kind of wild sometimes."
In her second season with the Scouting Bureau, she said the spring is especially hectic as teams research players they hope to select in the First-Year Player Draft, which happens this year on June 5 and 6 in New York.
"Sometimes you've just got what I call run-and-gun. If there's a game here or a game there I've got to go. I've got to go see that kid, because he's running out of games, or the season's winding down or something." she said. "I film them, I don't do the written reports, but I get asked my opinion a lot by all the clubs to assess the talent I'm seeing."
Not only is Stancil one of just three video technicians doing this important service for the clubs, she also happens to be the first woman scout hired by the Scouting Bureau.
"Being the first woman is just kind of a neat thing - it's not like I knew I was gonna do that when I applied for the job or when I got the job, it was just kind of after the fact. It's kind of cool, it's like I'm a trivia question.
"I try to blend in with the other scouts. I try really not to stand out. I automatically do, one because I'm female and two because I've got this big camera everywhere I go and it has the Major League logo on it," she said. "I'm glad I got the job and I love my job, I love it more every day."
Stancil hopes other young women will follow in her footsteps someday and stressed the importance of getting as much hands-on training as possible.
"Internships are the key to learn how to do things. I worked for many years for no money because I knew the experience I was getting, and what it could lead to," she said. "Talk to people and listen to people and what they have to say - just take it all in. Be around the sport and do as much as you can with it."
Stancil first began working with baseball when she was a junior at North Carolina State.
When she was in college she filmed games and practices for the university's baseball team. This and an internship with the Orleans Cardinals of the Cape Cod League eventually led to her being noticed by the Scouting Bureau. Now people often stop Stancil and ask about her job.
"On a daily basis, at least probably three times a day I get the question - 'how did you get into this?' - I mean, every day. They'll always ask, 'who are you with?' and then the next question, 'how did you get into this?' So you've already got the story rehearsed in your head," she said with a laugh.
Stancil enjoys traveling to high school and college ballparks up and down the East Coast. She arrives at the ballpark two to three hours before game time to record position players during batting practice or pitchers warming up in the bullpen.
During the game she films each of a certain player's at-bats or a variety of the pitcher's pitches, depending on which player she is assigned to that day.
"You basically just watch everything the player does. The position player - how they swing, how they hit, how they run, how they throw," she said. "With pitchers, it's how they handle themselves on the mound, the mechanics in their pitches. How their pitches work, their curveball, slider, fastball. When the ball is hit at him, how he fields it. How many ground balls he gets, how many pop flies he creates."
Stancil records all of this with a Panasonic Super VHS camera that comes complete with a stopwatch and radar gun installed in it. The camera gives her the ability to film a player's at-bat, capture the velocity of the pitch and record the batter's run time all at once.
"It burns (the speed and time) onto the tape, so when you're watching the tape, in the right corner you see the velocity and the run time," Stancil said. "So I'm kind of like a one-man band."
Besides filming regular season games, the video technicians also traveled to Australia to assist Team USA, and each year attend the Futures Game, which features the top minor league prospects, during All-Star Week and Arizona Fall League games.
"The Futures Game is great - you see some great talent," she said. "The Arizona Fall League is one of my favorite assignments. That's the top, up-and-coming pro guys."
"I have some days that are just kind of unreal. Sometimes I have to stop and I'll look around and I'll be like, 'I'm at work.' When I was in Australia, I was thinking, 'I'm at work today, this is my job.' It was awesome. I think I'm definitely a baseball girl."