Nichols Named Paden City 2021 Distinguished Alumni
There is an old proverb that says, “timing is everything.” For Scott Nichols, a 1981 graduate of Paden City High School and the 2021 recipient of the PCHS Distinguished Alumni Award, this adage has rung true on many occasions during his life. Citing many events throughout his growing up in Paden City to initiating his professional baseball career along with personal events, Nichols can attest that being in the right place and the right time definitely has its advantages. The same could even be stated about the timing of the award and the presentation during PCHS Alumni Celebration activities. Nichols will be feted as part of the annual gathering of all alumni and friends of Paden City High School and this year will also serve as his classmates’ 40th anniversary of their graduation from the “hallowed halls that knew our laughter.” The presentation of the annual award will carry increased significance as two recipients will be honored due to the 2020 celebration being canceled. Walter Van Slider (PCHS 19770) will receive his award as the 2020 Distinguished Alum. Both presentations will take place on Berger Field the evening of July 3rd at approximately 8:30PM as part of a day-long slate of activities.
When notified of his selection Nichols expressed his deep gratitude for being picked. While speaking about growing up in Paden City and matriculating through Paden City schools, Scott intimated several instances that led him to a career in professional baseball. Nichols noted he didn’t realize “at the time” how lucky he was to grow up in a small town that is Paden City where most everyone knew each other and most were somehow involved in each others’ lives such as participating in youth sports. Scott fondly recollected his younger days in the Paden City Little League baseball ranks and how much pride he felt when it was time to don his uniform and walk down the bricks of Main Street in the annual Little League parade and of course, the numerous trips to the Tastee-Freez after winning a hard-fought baseball game in William E. Ford Park. Scott also recalled his early days of football playing in the Pop Warner league under the tutelage of Coach Tim Raper.
Scott commented, “he was crazy hard but we really learned a lot.” Nichols worked from the time he was 13 years old and in those snowy winters of the late 1970’s, he could be seen trudging through hip deep snow delivering the morning newspaper and later, while in high school, sitting atop the ladder as a lifeguard at the city pool, a scorching yet always popular job to teens. When Scott got to high school, he played multiple sports and those Little League parades then transformed into one of his most coveted memories, the huge victory parade up 4th Ave. through town and the celebration at Berger Field after the mighty Paden City Wildcat football team captured the West Virginia Class A State Championship his junior year.
Mr. Nichols also stated, “I was lucky to have participate in youth and high school sports at a time when Paden City had so many great coaches.” Nichols noted, “I played when Paden City had some really good coaches. They taught us and we learned to play the game the right way and this is important.” He cited basketball coaching legend, Bob Burton as one who helped guide his high school athletic endeavors along with head football and baseball coach Ron Renner. Burton commented on the selection of Nichols for the DAA stating, “Scott is an awesome choice. He was an excellent student and a wonderful athlete who got to follow his childhood dream of playing professional baseball.” It was Renner who, after Nichols’ freshman year playing in the outfield told Scott to move to the catcher’s position the next season. After Scott’s sophomore season, Coach Renner departed PCHS and Steve Deem took the reins of the program. Nichols helped the coach determine the line-up that year. Scott’s senior year saw yet another coaching change and here is where “perfect timing” came into play once again. Head coach
Jamie Natali had a family member who was a ranking official with the California University of Pennsylvania. It was at Natali’s urging that Nichols pursued a shot at the university’s baseball team. By coincidence, Scott’s father, Gary Nichols, received a job transfer that took the family to Washington, PA a mere three days after Scott’s high school graduation ceremony. Though not completely happy with the move, Scott made the transition and became an invited walk-on for the Cal U baseball team where he played catcher.
Scott graduated Cal U in 1985 with a degree in Computer Science/Industrial Management. Nichols attended several try-outs with professional baseball teams and eventually signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He went to a work-out with the team’s Erie, PA affiliate. Once again, on the day of the work-out that timing thing lifted its head and as Scott’s talent and a little luck would have it, Nichols was asked if he could be ready to play that very evening. The team needed a catcher and he got the call and his career began. Luck of different sort made it presence known as Scott faced Hall of Famer, Bobby Thigpen while catching that first game but nonetheless, Nichols showed his true grit and caught a clean game. Nichols went on to play 7 years as a professional with the Cardinals and then began a career in scouting. Scott scouted for the Cardinals for 16 years and Kansas City for 2 years. He currently scouts for the Brewers. Again, a prominent figure played an important role in Scott’s next step in his career as Hall of Fame catcher, Ted “Simba” Simmons who was the Cardinals farm organization director recognized Scott’s knack for spotting talent in young players and asked Scott consider scouting for the Cardinals. Nichols liked the idea and began the next chapter of his baseball story. An odd change in Major League protocol occurred the very next year (again that old timing thing), whereby teams’ rosters expanded by one position. Many elected to call up “utility players” and Nichols being a catcher who could play 1st base, 3rd base, left field and right field, could very well have fit that bill and been called up himself had he not already taken the scouting job. Never one to take the negative side of a situation, Scott happily began scouting in the Mid-Atlantic region covering the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware for the Cardinals organization.
Scott currently scouts for the Brewers and calls Richland, Mississippi his launch pad from which he travels the country in search of the next great baseball talent. In 2018, Nichols was named the Scout of the Year by the Southeastern Scouts Association and continues to serve as a hitting instructor in the Minor Leagues. Having relocated there in 1996, Scott has helped raise three children, Lyndsie (23), Garrett (24) and Trey (19). Scott also holds a patent for a device he invented called the Lock and Load Swingtrainer. The Lock and Load Swingtrainer is a muscle memory trainer for baseball and softball players of all ages. The device enables the hitter to learn the proper swing mechanics used by the professionals. The trainer provides instant feedback that helps the hitter learn to get their hands in the correct launch position, staying inside the ball and teaching balance throughout the swing. Some of Scott’s other personal affiliations include involvement with local organ transplant support groups and participating in the Transplant Olympic Games (for both donors and recipients of organ transplants) where he has won 3 Gold medals. Nichols stated, “I am just really excited about this award and feel very honored to be chosen. I can’t wait to get back to Paden City and see some familiar faces, reconnect with friends and classmates and see the town.” Nichols wanted to encourage all athletes when he said, “it doesn’t matter if you go to a small school or a big school. If you are good, you will get noticed. A scout can find you where ever you are.”
The Distinguished Alumni Award Committee, along with the Paden City Schools Alumni Association are very pleased to honor Scott Nichols with the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for his service to his community, his professional and person career successes and his overall betterment to humanity. This writer is honored to be able to relay Scott’s accomplishments. The public is invited to join the alumni and friends of Paden City High School on Saturday, July 3rd on Berger Field to honor Scott Nichols with the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award. Approximate time for the presentation is 8:30 PM.