As usual, there was no shortage of scouts at the National Baseball Congress World Series this month in Wichita, Kan. They were there, of course, to scrutinize professional prospects.
Little did they know that they, in turn, were being watched by one Perry Husband.
Husband played second base for the Valley Dodgers, a semipro team making its first appearance in the prestigious tournament. He was scout-watching in the hope that scouts were taking notice of him.
He made sure he was hard to miss. In five games, Husband was 9 for 17 with 2 home runs, 10 runs batted in and 5 steals, leading the Dodgers to a seventh-place finish in the 34-team tournament. On Tuesday, he was selected to the NBC All-American team.
Husband is hopeful that the performance will lead to an invitation to try out for a professional team. He spent a year and a half in the minors after being drafted out of Cal State Northridge by the Minnesota Twins in June, 1984. He was released this spring, however, after hitting .220 for the Twins Class-A California League affiliate in Visalia last season.
Husband has been in contact with several teams about a spring tryout next season. If he doesn't get invited, he said he will show up at somebody's minor league training camp and try to catch on as a free agent.
Considering his reaction the last time he was snubbed by a team, scouts would be well advised to take notice.
Husband tried out for Northridge's team as a walk-on after a steady but unspectacular career at Quartz Hill High. After a winter season with the Matadors, he was told by then-Coach Bob Hiegert that he had made the team but wouldn't start.
That wasn't good enough for Husband who left CSUN for Antelope Valley College where he set out to prove the doubters wrong. And he did just that. Husband set a national community college record with a 32-game hitting streak and led the state with a .471 batting average.
The next three seasons, Husband was Northridge's starting second baseman. In 1984, his senior season, Husband was selected to the Division II All-American team after helping the Matadors to the national championship.
After signing with the Twins, he played in a rookie league for one season and was a part-time starter for Visalia the following year.
But the batting stroke that produced home runs in college led to a lot of warning track outs in the minors.
"I hit the ball as well as ever," Husband said, "but the ones I hit out of the yard in college stayed in the minor league parks and the balls that were going up the gap before were being run down by the outfielders. I needed to become more of a singles hitter and I wasn't able to adjust."
Husband, who was 5-7, 150-pounds in high school, has always been told to get bigger and stronger. "All your life you build strength to build up size," said Husband, who is now 5-9, 170. "Then they tell you it doesn't matter."
After his release this spring, Husband was looking for a place to play when he read about a Valley Dodgers' tryout camp. The Dodgers were building an amateur team of home-grown players.
In July, the Dodgers became the first Valley-area team in 52 years to qualify for the NBC tournament. Then, after losing to fourth-ranked Wichita in the first round of the tournament, the team won three in a row before being eliminated, 10-8, by Anchorage, Alaska, the eventual national champion.
The Dodgers trailed Anchorage, 10-3, before rallying for three runs in the seventh and two in the ninth. In his last at-bat, Husband led off the ninth inning with a long home run to right field.
He's hoping it left a lasting impression on those ever-present scouts.