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Deemed true ambassador, Haley draws on 42 years of professional baseball experience


When you hear “October baseball” mentioned, you likely envision your favorite MLB team vying for a playoff spot at the end of their 162-game schedule. For the elite amateur, however, “October baseball” means one thing: The Perfect Game WWBA World Championship.

Top talent from across the U.S., Canada, Dominican Republic and other countries annually descend upon Jupiter, Florida, and the Roger Dean Complex, Spring Training home to the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, to showcase their skills in front of more than 700 MLB scouts and college coaches.

The statistics are staggering. Now in its 25th year, the “top scouting attraction in all of amateur baseball” has seen over 22,000 college commitments amongst its participants, with nearly 6200 draft picks and 1157 players seeing Major League action. Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javy Baez, are a few of the many that have played their way to success by way of this exclusive tournament.

Longtime professional baseball manager and coach Mark Haley recently joined the staff of the Chicago Scouts Association (CSA) as they fielded a team of premier players from the region to compete at the highest level. With high schoolers destined for the collegiate baseball teams at Michigan State, Wichita State, Minnesota, Kansas State, and more, and others hoping for offers or potential professional contracts, the CSA cohort benefitted from the vast experience of Haley.

A California native, Haley made his way through the baseball ranks at the University of Nebraska and University of Tennessee before a long professional career within the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks organizations. Since 2016 he has been the General Manager of the 1st Source Bank Performance Center, the training facility of the Chicago Cubs’ High-A affiliate in South Bend, Indiana, as well as the Executive Director of the South Bend Cubs Foundation (SBCF).

With 19 youth teams at the Midwest venue under his direction for the upcoming season, Haley recognizes the importance of giving back to the game he loves by training and supporting the next generation of up-and-coming ball players. Being recognized by his peers to help lead the CSA contingent to South Florida is a testament to not only his expertise, but also his dedication to aspiring athletes.

“When you get with a group of guys that have a common goal, and there are different ways of getting to where you want to be, the biggest thing is you have to depend on each other, so you can accomplish what you want and they can accomplish what they want,” Haley noted, “The team concept is so valuable in life. I see how this is the same in the business setting and life in general. I always talk about trust, respect, honesty, loyalty to each other. Even here [at the Performance Center] I talk to the little ones about those traits and how they’re important.”

More notable than the sea of golf carts transporting the multitude of scouts and coaches representing all 30 MLB teams and colleges from D-I to JUCO, is the overall warmth of the baseball community. Not only are the young players a beneficiary of Haley’s guidance, but so are the adults that he interacts with.


“It’s funny because there is a small population that understands about the dream of baseball that starts when you’re a little kid, and then you reach a point when you decide if you’re going to continue in baseball and become a “lifer.” It’s hard to explain to the general public what that mindset is, but it’s comforting because this community gets each other,” Haley reflected, “It’s not about me, but what I can give to the game. What can I give to the kids? When we all get together it’s like family.”

It’s a reunion of sorts; a family of serious baseball masters, competing against one another and yet equally excited to hear of successes. As quickly as one former colleague exchanges greetings with Haley, another one appears, with word spreading throughout the week that he is coaching with the CSA group. A handful of his former professional players, now coaches and scouts themselves, are also among those joining the conversation. The obligatory jabs and jokes, coupled with stories and updates, form an unbreakable bond that “lifers” share, and Haley cherishes this. They appreciate him, too, as Clay Overcash, Recruiting Coordinator and Catching Coach for the Wichita State Shockers so aptly expressed:

“Mark Haley is a true ambassador of our great game. Not only has he been a great friend but a mentor,” he continued, “When Mark speaks on the game you must pay attention to the details or points of what he is saying. He is also a great communicator that gives clear messages.” Overcash concluded, “I want to personally thank him for always spending valuable time with me.”

As the competition closes for the 104 teams in Jupiter, more than wins and losses will be remembered. Recruits will have made an impression, new talent will have been discovered, but more importantly, relationships will be lasting. We often don’t know the impact we have on others, but on the back fields and bullpens of the Roger Dean Complex, Mark Haley caught a glimpse of how he has influenced more lives than he can possibly know, from coast to coast, north to south, across this great country and beyond.


Written by Stephanie Layman, SBCF

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