Making the Pitch: HFC alumnus Scott MacDonald's baseball life
Scott MacDonald has had baseball in his blood for almost four decades. His love of the sport has taken him around the country and even to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
MacDonald pitched for the HFC Hawks for two seasons (1994-96), where he was an Honorable Mention All-American. He then continued his baseball career at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, NC, where he received his undergraduate degree in sports management. He later earned his master’s degree in public administration from Oakland University in Rochester.
In 2012, MacDonald helped lead the St. Thomas Waves in the Virgin Islands to a Men’s Adult Baseball League (MABL) 25 and Up World Series championship, earning MVP honors after throwing a shutout in the semifinals and leading the team in batting averages, home runs, and RBIs. He continues to play for the Detroit Dodgers in the Men’s Senior Baseball League (MSBL) and the St. Clair Shores Redbirds.
MacDonald combined his love of sports with communications, working in intercollegiate athletics in North Carolina, Georgia, and Michigan.
Some of his favorite college-to-pro sports connections included Matt Wieters, who played for the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals; Calvin Johnson, retired Detroit Lions wide receiver; and Thaddeus Young, who played for the Philadelphia 76ers and currently plays for the Indiana Pacers. He’s tutored more than 40 current professional athletes during his career.
A new dream with a new league
In January 2018, MacDonald became the vice president of marketing and public relations for the United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL), an independent professional baseball league that plays at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica.
“It’s amazing that I get to work in professional baseball, after playing the game I love for more than 38 years. I have to thank my wife Tara, who is such an amazing mom to our three young children, Shea, William, and Ashlyn. Her support allows me to live my dream,” said MacDonald, a 1994 alumnus of Lahser High School in Bloomfield Hills, where he was an all-star baseball player and Athlete of the Year in 1994.
The USPBL was founded in 2016 by Andy Appleby, formerly a senior vice president of the Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment. The league recruits players from 18-25 who did not get drafted after college or were released from minor league contracts. It gives them the opportunity to sign with MLB-affiliated minor league teams with the chance of playing in the majors.
There are four teams in the USPBL: the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers, the Eastside Diamond Hoppers, the Utica Unicorns, and the Westside Woolly Mammoths. The season runs May through September with 75 games scheduled. The league also hosts an All-Star Game and championship game following the regular season.
Focus on the fan experience
“I’m excited about this new opportunity,” said MacDonald. “I love that I will be promoting baseball and this league that produced so many talented players in such a short amount of time. We are a developmental professional league that helps players refine their skillset and hopefully sign with a major league baseball organization.”
In his new position, MacDonald plans to upgrade the USPBL’s social media initiatives to boost fan engagement and the USPBL’s profile. USPBL games are family-friendly events with many promotions, a wiffleball court, and a playground within the ballpark.
“We want to put on a tremendous game-day experience so fans will want to come back,” he said. “If we can get them back at the ballpark 3-4 times, then we can create that emotional tie every time a fan walks through those gates. One of the things that separates the USPBL from other professional baseball leagues is the owner walks around to shake hands with all the guests, making sure they’re having a premium experience. That speaks volumes; you can’t buy something like that. Andy Appleby and (COO) Dana Schmitt have done a great job starting up this league.”
The dream was born at HFC
MacDonald looks back fondly on his days of playing baseball at HFC under then-coach Stu Rose, where he helped the Hawks win consecutive Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) East Conference Championships.
“Coach Rose called me up and invited me to try out for the baseball team when he learned I was looking for a junior college to play baseball,” said MacDonald. “Henry Ford had been a national runner-up at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Baseball World Series, so I knew Coach Rose had built an excellent program. I met a lot of talented baseball players there and we had a lot of success. To this day, I am good friends with fellow teammate Chuck Apligian who came to St. Andrews with me from Henry Ford.”
While at HFC, MacDonald studied business and political science.
“My professors genuinely cared about me. They wanted me to succeed not only in class but also on the field. I have seen many junior college transfers come to Oakland to play baseball, and I can honestly say that many of them did not have the great experience that I did at Henry Ford. I’d highly recommend HFC to anyone who wants to play community college ball.”