It's hard to look at Dave Hollins and not expect him to be wearing a red pinstriped uniform covered in dirt. As a player, Hollins was hard-nosed and played every game as if it was game seven of the World Series. Now, jeans and a casual shirt are his uniform and he's somewhat surprised that he feels just as comfortable in that as he did in a baseball uniform.
"I always knew that I wanted to stay in the game," explained Hollins. "And I thought I mainly just wanted to be on the field, but it's good to learn the other half of the game, from the perspective of the front office and the guys out of uniform."
Hollins is in his fourth season as a pro scout for the Baltimore Orioles and covers the Phillies, Pirates, Tigers and Mets, following both their major league clubs and many of their minor league clubs looking for talent. In the Phillies organization, Hollins scouts from Philadelphia down through Clearwater and he likes much of what he's seen. "They do have some good, young talent, surprisingly for a team that's so loaded at the major league level. They have good players on the way, especially in their pitching departments."
At this point in the season, all eyes are on potential trades. Much of the key minor league scouting is done prior to the trade deadline and Hollins tries to get a good feel for the organizations he's been assigned to scout, since deals can happen at any time. "The general manager keeps close to his sleeve on what he's thinking or doing," said Hollins. "We have our reports done and if they need to know something or have a team they need us to take a second look at, we'll do that. You're busy in June and July, there's no doubt."
While his post-playing days have carried him to New York as a hitting coach for the Mets for two seasons and now to his job as a scout for Baltimore, Hollins always feels close to Philadelphia. He returns whenever he's asked for reunions or special events and keeps in touch with many of the players from that '93 team. "They're very good at bringing the ex-players back," said Hollins with a smile. "Krukie [John Kruk] and I coach a fantasy team for the Phillies in the winter down in Clearwater and a lot of the guys down there are from the group that I played with, so it's fun and we do stay in touch."
Hollins admitted that watching the post-season last fall brought back a lot of good memories and he was along for the ride every step of the way. "It was a lot of fun watching that and they were showing a lot of stuff from the '93 team," remembered Hollins. "Just to get to see them get a win for the city of Philadelphia and all of the people that I'm still close to in the Philadelphia organization, it was a lot of fun to watch that."
While Hollins hasn't given up the idea of being back in a uniform at some point, he's found a lot about scouting that appeals to him. After having a very regimented 17 years as a player and another couple seasons as a hitting coach, Hollins enjoys the freedom and independence that comes from scouting. He's still traveling quite a bit, just like he did during his playing career, but now, he goes more on his terms.
"You coordinate your own travel and you're on your own schedule," explained Hollins. "There's nobody watching over your shoulder everyday. You make your own schedule and get to the parks when you want to go and nobody really bothers you. That's part of the freedom of the job that I really enjoy." Hollins also doesn't miss having to travel with the same bunch of guys for most of the year and actually drives to most of his destinations, except when he has to cover clubs in the Florida State League.
As much as he loves the freedom of scouting, Hollins doesn't rule out the possibility of a job requiring him to wear a uniform and travel with the same guys all the time. "This [scouting] is going to help me if I ever do decide to go back to coaching. You've really got to work together with everybody now. The game has changed a lot from the old days when it was just baseball people and field people running everything, so I'm enjoying the experience of learning the game from a different perspective."