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Where are they now? with Bo McLaughlin

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

There have been many requests for a “where are they now” feature with former Lipscomb pitcher Bo McLaughlin. Lipscombsports.com caught up with him at Greer Stadium when he visited Nashville to work with the pitchers for the Colorado Sky Sox, the top minor league affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

Baseball almost killed him in 1981. He finished his Major League career with a 10-20 record and a 4.49 earned run average in six seasons.

He was drafted by the Houston Astros in the first round of the 1975 amateur draft, the 14th pick overall. He made his Major League debut July 20, 1976.

Bo, you were drafted by the Houston Astros in the first round out of Lipscomb in 1975. You also played for the Atlanta Braves and Oakland A’s in a Major League career that spanned six seasons. Talk about your stops along the way.

“I had a 10-day tryout with the Astros and pitched well enough that they kept me with the Major League team. I stayed there for awhile and went to Atlanta in a trade. I pitched a lot in Atlanta, but I was so-so. I had some injuries to my neck that controlled the muscles in my arm. They thought I had an arm problem. But it was really in my neck. I got that fixed. That was no big deal.

“I became a free agent and played for Billy Martin at Oakland. We played for the American League Championship, but lost out to the New York Yankees.”

There was a scary incident during your time at Oakland on May 26, 1981. How did that affect your career?

“I took a line drive to the face. I was pitching against the Chicago White Sox and Harold Baines hit a line drive. They rebuilt the left side of my face. I came back for the last month of the season and the playoffs.

“I never could get my legs back in shape. I had bad legs from the time I was 15 years old. After the 1982 season (48.3 innings, 4.85 earned run average) I retired.

“I moved to Phoenix, Ariz. It was a nice area. I loved it. I started a baseball school and a real estate company.

“I did that for seven or eight years and then I got back into coaching. Since 1993 I have been coaching starting with the Chicago Cubs. I worked with Montreal for three years and the Baltimore Orioles for four years. I took a year off and got back into the real estate stuff a little bit. A year later I got back into coaching with the Rockies and have been here for eight years.”

As a first round draft pick you made a special request that had nothing to do with money, but was surprising to the Astros. What was the request?

“I wanted to start off at the highest level. That was the toughest thing to negotiate. The money wan’t as big then as it is now for first round picks. I started out at Double-A , moved to Triple-A and then the big leagues.

“I had pitched three years at Lipscomb. I played in a very good summer league in Grand Junction, Colo. I played for the USA Team in the World Games in 1974. I played in the Connie Mack and Mickey Mantle World Series. I had been around.

“I wanted to make my money in the major leagues. It took the front office two or three days to get accustomed to the thought. I had pitched in some tryout camps on the Double-A level when I was in high school.

“I did throw strikes. My first game in Double-A I had a no-hitter for 6.2 innings. They didn’t gripe after that. I have a business degree from Lipscomb so I had some smarts.”

As a high school athlete you were offered 55 baseball scholarships and seven basketball scholarships. Why did you choose Lipscomb?

“There were a lot of other colleges that recruited me. They always tried to entice me to do something instead of asking me to play for their schools for the right reasons.

“I loved Lipscomb, but sometimes I sit back now and wonder why I went there. Coach Ken Dugan came in and was truthful with me. I came down to visit the school and saw what it was like. It was a pretty impressive place to see and the baseball program was just what I was looking for. Baseball was the main sport at that time. You couldn’t find that at many other places back then.

“The alumni have always been good to me. When I come back to Nashville I still run into friends here. It has been 30-something years, but it doesn’t seem like we have missed a beat.”

How did coach Ken Dugan influence your life as an athlete?

“The biggest thing I learned was the discipline to do things right all the time. I was an athlete. I could have played college basketball or baseball.

“There was really something special about coach Dugan. I was raised by a family that was pretty strict about getting things done and doing things right.

“The three years at Lipscomb were very good for me.”

What does a pitching coordinator do for a major league team?

“I go from the Rookie Leagues in Casper, Wyo., and Pasco, Wash., to Asheville, N.C. We have teams in Tulsa, Okla., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Modesto, Calif. I go to Denver two or three times and I also go to Denver for the draft. I was there when Rex Brothers got drafted.

“I work with pitchers on their techniques and on various pitches. There are pitchers who are good minor leaguers with what they have got, but if they want to be major league pitchers they usually have a lot of work. I try to get them to learn to throw strikes before they get to Double-A.

“I get a lot of frequent flyer miles. Marriott likes me a lot.”

Watching you work with the pitchers it is obvious that you enjoy your work. What keeps you going?

“I have this baseball bug and it just won’t leave me. Two years ago I had my left knee replaced and it has really changed my life as far as having the energy to do this again and travel like I do.”

What do you expect from Rex, who was also a first round pick in 2009, next season?

“I would be surprised if he wasn’t in Triple-A next year and possibly the big leagues. He is moving fast. He is already in Double-A. He is right on schedule.”