AL HAMNIK: McCambridge ready to make his pitch to the Philippines

2013-10-14T18:15:00Z 2013-12-12T22:39:11Z AL HAMNIK: McCambridge ready to make his pitch to the PhilippinesAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 14, 2013 6:15 pm  • 

Randy McCambridge is about to go where few of us dare, a land where danger lurks around every corner and the unexpected is a way of life.

This is not a Tom Clancy spy thriller.

This is baseball and the stuff dreams are made of.

Here's the skinny: McCambridge is a 1971 Bishop Noll grad and former pitching standout on two Lewis University NAIA national championship teams. He coached on several levels while selling real estate in Hawaii for 20 years.

From there, McCambridge has led a Walter Mitty type-life, teaching and coaching in Guam, Bangkok, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

And then came the break of his life, becoming acquainted with American League scout and player development guy Bill Bryk of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

McCambridge will independently scout prospects, particularly pitchers, in the Philippines, which Major League Baseball has chosen to pass over due to its political corruption, failing railroad system and dense, mountainous terrain making travel difficult.

The Philippines consist of 7,107 islands and has a population of 98 million people, so the odds favor McCambridge reeling in a prospect or two.

"They have structure. They have high school and university baseball and they love Americans there," McCambridge said. "If I can find an Ichiro (Suzuki), if I can find a Yu Darvish, I'm going to be a wanted man.

"I have the ability to go to places people fear. The Philippines is a dangerous place. Al Qaeda cells. Muslims. That sort of anti-American stuff."

As a world traveler, McCambridge knows the politics in acquiring visas. He currently resides in Thailand and recently returned to Dyer to visit his mother.

"I'm not stupid, I'm not careless. I'm diplomatic," McCambridge said. "I'm approachable and I'm American. A lot of places I go, I'm treated really good."

It sounds as if the Diamondbacks are intrigued and isn't that all that really matters?

"He has a lot of passion for the game. I think he's a pioneer going to the Philippines and Thailand," said Bryk, a 1969 Thornridge grad. "Randy's got energy and I believe he'll find an athlete and make him a good player."

Few know the game better than Bryk, who was drafted by the Washington Senators in 1969 and also scouted for the Padres, Pirates and now the Diamondbacks.

"I told Randy if you find someone, pass it on to me, I'll pass it on to (the Diamondbacks) and it will help you," Bryk said.

That's all this life-long White Sox fan wanted to hear.

"They (Philippines) haven't produced any players. That doesn't mean there aren't any," McCambridge said. "They just haven't invested the time and money to look for them. I'm willing to look for them.

"At my age — I'm 60 — I want to do something nobody else has done. I will be looking for the kid nobody sees. There's got to be a kid in the jungle who throws 104 (mph)."

With 8 percent unemployment and 28 percent of the population under the poverty level, I expect anyone who can throw a ball to be lining up outside his door.

It could be their quick ticket out of town.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

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