When you hear of scouts in the stands at a Major League Baseball game, it’s normal to look for guys holding radar guns and scribbling down notes about the latest prospect.
But earlier this month at Dodger Stadium, Scouts weren’t just in the stands. They were on the field, too.
On Aug. 10, a group of more than 200 Scouts and leaders from the BSA’s Western Los Angeles County Council presented a giant flag on the field before the Los Angeles Dodgers played the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Scouts included young people from 12 Cub Scout packs, eight Scouts BSA troops for boys, two Scouts BSA troops for girls and one Venturing crew.
With their efforts, the Scouts reminded Dodger fans that displays of patriotism are an important part of a Scout’s “duty to country.” Scouting and patriotism have been inextricably linked since the beginning — a fact recognized by others outside of our organization.
“During the follow-up conversation with the Dodgers, we learned that the WLACC Scouting group was the only group asked by the Dodgers to present a big flag on the field — aside from the military group prior to the Opening Day game,” says Jeff Rudner, the volunteer who served as chairman of the event. “To say that the Scouts and leaders are thrilled and honored is certainly an understatement.”
But coordinating Scouts from 23 different units (and dozens more watching in the stands) wasn’t easy. Here’s how it went down, day by day and minute by minute.
More than four years ago
This actually was the fourth time Scouts from the WLACC have presented the flag at a Dodgers game. Volunteers from the council worked with the Dodgers organization to plan the Scout Night event and on-field display.
If you’d like to introduce something like this with your local baseball team (MLB or minor league), start by contacting your local council.
2 months to go
Participants met at a centrally located park to practice. Participants were organized, taught their roles, learned the choreography and figured out how to handle a massive, 60-by-80-foot U.S. flag.
“Dealing with nearly 160 Scouts of all ages (from Lions to Eagles and beyond), plus 40 leaders, had its share of challenges,” Rudner says. “Repetition is key. The flag presentation was diligently practiced more times than anyone can remember — ensuring that every turn, salute, step and instruction was engrained and looked great.”
2 hours to go
With game time set for 6:10 p.m., the Scouts were told to arrive around 4.
Participants checked in, and the Scouts kept themselves busy with games and coloring. The older Scouts taught the younger ones about knot-tying and told them what it’s like to be in Scouts BSA.
While the on-field group of 200 waited for showtime, another 1,000 Scouts and families from the council grabbed some concessions and began to take their seats.
30 minutes to go
After batting practice, a small contingent of Scouts and Leaders entered the field to survey exactly where the flag presentation would take place.
“It’s not often anyone, except players and coaches, gets to stand on the field of a baseball stadium full of 50,000 cheering fans,” Rudner says.
20 minutes to go
Leaders distributed white cotton gloves to all participants. These make it easy for fans to see the three-finger Scout salute from afar.
8 minutes to go
Scouts and leaders lined up at the center field gate in preparation to enter the field. The Scouts and leaders split into five lines — just like they had done so many times in practice.
“The excitement was palpable as everyone was eager for this rare opportunity,” Rudner says.
1 minute to go
Everyone and everything was in place. The giant flag, the four-person color guard, the drummer, and the 200 Scouts and leaders — all ready to go.
A Dodgers pre-game producer began counting down the seconds.
The color guard began marching onto the field, with everyone else following.
Even though the fans were cheering, Rudner says the loudest cheer came from the WLACC section. Another roar erupted when the PA announcer recognized the Scouts and leaders.
After the ceremony, the Scouts joined their families and friends in their seats to watch the game.
The Dodgers won, as they usually have this season. But Rudner says there’s another winner: “The Scouts and leaders who performed so flawlessly.”
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