Was Giles Destined to be a Dodger?

The rules of professional sports being what they are these days, it would be foolish to say that someone was destined to play for a particular team. In baseball, a kid can grow up yearning to put on a particular uniform but the draft being in place says he has only a 1 in 30 chance to being selected by it.

And even if he's fortunate enough to be picked by his favorite team, there's no guarantee. Consider the case of Chuck Tiffany, who vowed to be a Dodger, had his room covered with pictures of his favorites from the team and was chosen by them in the second round- only to get traded.

Tommy Giles grew up across the country from Tiffany's home in Southern California but he was fortunate to have the Dodgers in his back yard, too, for he's from Vero Beach, which has been the springtime home of the team since 1948.

And as he got older and fell in love with the game and the team, he became the Dodger batboy during spring training. Later, during the regular season when they were gone, he held a similar job for the Vero Beach Dodgers.

He played the game for Vero Beach High but not well enough to attract pro scouts. So, after graduation, he pursued his other love-flying. There are flight schools in the Vero area so he attended one and, after a year, received his muitl-engine, commercial and instrumental pilot's licenses.

It was not off into the wild blue yonder, though. Instead he next went to college- Central Florida Community College to be precise, playing baseball for them. No pro team came calling again but the University of Miami did- offering him a scholarship.

Well, not quite. Actually, it was a 75 percent scholarship. You see, even at a school like Miami, which is high-powered in the sport, scholarships are rationed for it. After all, football is the king for the Hurricanes.

But Tommy took the offer so played for the 'Canes-and played well although after his junior year no pro team called his name this time, either.

As a senior this past spring he found himself for he was one of the leaders on a team that was very good. Playing regularly in the outfield, he hit well- .339 with nine homers and showed some speed, too, with 11 steals.

And this time the pros did call. If you're a believer in Calvinist pre-destination, you have to know it had to be the Dodgers who selected him in the eighth round .

The 'Canes made the College World Series where Tommy played very well so his entry into pro ball was delayed a bit. After that was over, he signed so now is wearing- no, not a Dodger uniform but, rather, that of the Ogden Raptors.

Signing a bit late as he did, he was somewhat behind the others so had to wait awhile for playing time. The Raptors have a combination of players with pro experience and some likelies out of college like Giles so manager Lance Parrish has to parcel out the playing time among them.

They've tinkered with Tommy's hitting style but he's getting with it more and more. The Dodgers think he's a possible fourth man in a big league outfield someday so he'll get plenty of opportunities as time goes by.

Someday, you may hear him say, "Good afternoon everybody. This is your captain speaking and welcome to Flight 234 bound for Los Angeles." Right now, though, he's working on being one of the passengers hearing someone else voice it.

Okay, you can say it was destiny, if you want.

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