It was 2015 and Santa Fe High’s baseball team was winding down its third day of tryouts.
If we’re being brutally honest, Scott Laur was a long shot to make the Demons. A 5-foot-nothing kid with a few extra pounds and a scarcity of raw talent, he didn’t start playing the game until the tail end of Little League.
He followed that by spending a good portion of his formative years in the American Amateur Baseball Congress, swinging and missing at pitches.
“It was bad,” Laur admitted. “I hit the ball in Little League, but club ball was a learning experience.”
So there Laur was, sitting in the Demons’ dugout minding his own business, when he overheard a pair of sub-varsity coaches talking about him.
“One of them said, ‘We need to tell this kid’s mom to find another sport because he’ll never make it out here,’ ” Laur said. “I’m not going to lie — all it did was add fuel to my fire. I had even more determination at that point. I was going to prove everyone wrong, starting with them.”
If skipping to the end is your thing, this is all you need to know: He did.
Laur is headed to Hawaii Pacific University on a partial baseball scholarship this fall. An NCAA Division II school in Honolulu, its teams are known as the Sharks, and most of the players and coaches on the baseball roster wear bright Hawaiian shirts for their online profiles.
Next year, Laur will be included in that mix, and it makes everyone who knows him beam with pride.
“If I had 15 kids on my team and I had to take my pick between the kind who looks the part — the 6-3, 215-pounder with fancy gear — and a kid like Scott, I’d take 15 Scott Laurs any day,” said Santa Fe High head coach Ian Farris. “Just his approach to the game, the way he comes ready to play and is coachable. I’ll take a kid who’s willing to learn and going to commit to the work over someone who has the physical tools without the right attitude.”
Point of clarification: Farris was not the Demons’ coach the day Laur overheard his less-than-stellar critique.
“You know, maybe they had a point because every single time I’ve ever stepped on the field I feel like I’m overmatched, talent-wise,” Laur said. “But that never stopped me. It never will. It just means I have to work harder than the guys in front of me.”
Laur was, by his recollection, a pudgy kid who went two years without playing a single sport. He tried the Young America Football League and got his bell rung at practice one day, so his mom made him quit. He gave sports like soccer, basketball and even skiing a shot but wasn’t particularly good.
He was destined to be just another face in the crowd until he plopped himself in front of the TV one day and turned on the Little League World Series.
“I can do that,” he thought.
“Scott has always had what I would say is a lot of perseverance, someone who’s very determined,” said his mother, Ruth Laur. “If he sees something he likes he just goes for it. He’s very persistent.”
Laur’s older brother, Gavin, was always like that, too. Now a senior studying classical piano at Arizona State, he was in the car the day Ruth picked up Scott after the final day of those baseball tryouts. Gavin had just broken the news that he’d been invited to play with the Santa Fe Community Orchestra.
When it was Scott’s turn, he told them he’d actually made the team.
“I got out of the car and took a little walk just to gather myself a little,” Ruth said. “Second-best day of my life.”
But that was just the start. The family home is in Eldorado, and some days Scott took it upon himself to ride his bike 13 miles each way to practice, either with the Demons or with his club team at the E&G Baseball Academy run by Farris and his business partner George Dellos.
“He never missed, not once,” Farris says. “Show me another kid who’s going to ride his bike that far just to get to practice.”
It wasn’t all peaches and cream, though. Whether it was pride, modesty or humility, Laur rarely accepted offers for rides back home. There were a few days where that was clearly a mistake.
“Yeah, one time,” Laur said with a laugh, “there was this huge storm between me and Eldorado and coach was, like, ‘You sure about this?’ About halfway, it was pouring and I didn’t have a way to protect myself. Just had to power through it, you know?”
Laur’s initial years on Santa Fe High’s roster were mostly as the varsity scorekeeper. He had just one at-bat in his first two seasons.
“They always DH’d me,” he said. “I was just the defensive guy.”
A shortstop at heart, Laur was told he’d have to reinvent himself if he ever wanted to play because his position of choice, shortstop, was locked down by teammate Manny Martinez.
“They basically said short was his for the next five years and, honestly, I can see why,” Laur said. “Manny was really good.”
Martinez recently signed his own scholarship papers to attend Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, so it’s fair to say it has worked out well for both parties. Laur found a home in right field and got this first sniff of varsity ball at a tournament in Aztec when one of the Demons’ regulars got hurt.
“Never forget it,” Laur said. “I was scared to death every pitch, but they did hit one ball to me and I caught it. The dugout was kind of freaking out, but I knew I’d get my chance. I mean, I caught about 1,000 balls the week before in practice.”
Laur finally broke into the starting lineup his junior year, the first with Farris as the program’s head coach. By his senior year, that same 5-foot-nothing kid was 5-11 and 175 pounds. He became entrenched as the Demons’ starter in center, occasionally taking the mound as a reliever and spot starter.
With college looming, he and his parents talked about the application process from an academic standpoint. A good student, Laur narrowed his list to 13 schools and had reached out to at least twice as many college baseball programs. Not a single coach wrote him back. He was near the end of the line when Ruth suggested that 13 was an unlucky number, that one more was needed.
On a whim, he picked Hawaii Pacific. Within a few weeks, the Sharks coaching staff asked for film.
“The only thing we had was him striking out in club games so, yeah, that was a bit of a challenge,” Ruth said.
Farris helped out with some of that. Himself a former Division I player in Georgia, he and Laur put together a package that eventually led to an offer from Hawaii Pacific.
Looking back, the entire journey is amazing to everyone who saw it.
“I can’t be happier for Scott because this was a kid no one gave a chance to, but here he is, going off to college,” Farris said. “He earned it. He never quit. As a coach you fall in love with players like that.”
Maybe one day another kid will come along and follow in Laur’s footsteps. For a guy who never really stood much of a chance, that would be music to his ears.
“If I can be an inspiration for someone else, wow, I’d be all for that,” Laur said.