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Aug, 2022

Rick Arnold Returns to Lew Hays PONY Field

Fifty years passed between the first time Rick Arnold set foot on the dirt at Lew Hays PONY Field with a uniform on playing for Lakewood, California and August 2022 when he toted an MLB polo and was introduced to the crowd as a baseball legend.

For most people in that long of a timespan, hobbies and occupations will come and go but for Arnold, he made sure baseball was something that stuck. The earliest memory that he has of the sport is when he learned how to play catch. He can still recall every detail.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. My grandfather at one point was the bat boy for the New York Yankees in Spring Training. He took me to the park when I was five years old and taught me how to play catch,” said Arnold. “From that day on I didn’t want to do anything else but baseball.”

He went on to play college baseball at Cal State Long Beach right by his home of Lakewood. He lived at home and drove back and forth, pursuing his dream of playing the sport he loved. While he never made it to the major leagues, he still had the opportunity to be on an MLB diamond as a batting practice pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels in 1979. That opportunity proved to be the one that opened many doorways for the young man.

Throughout the 1980’s, Arnold worked for the Detroit Tigers as a baseball scout. In 1984 when the Tigers won the World Series, he was on staff. He actually has a World Series ring which he described as one of his favorite items. In the 1990’s he moved to the Baltimore Orioles and worked as a scout for a while before he was awarded the opportunity to work for the commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1998. The last few years of his career he worked for the Atlanta Braves. He recalled that rebuilding the Braves was a very fun experience.

“A lot of people think that being a major league scout is a dream job, and it was. I always tell people I’m the most blessed person I know. I work very hard at my job, but it was fun every single day.”

Arnold has traveled far and wide for baseball, visiting all 50 states as well as every Latin America country that plays baseball, but the experience he had at the PONY League World Series is one that is a core baseball memory.

“I didn’t have plans to be here (Washington) today, but my work brought me here. As I was driving, I was reminiscing about the fun we had.”

He detailed a couple amusing stories about the fun he had with his teammates and even a PONY Princess.

“We stayed in the college campus dorms, and I remember my roommate and I climbed out a third story window because we were thirsty and wanted to get a soda. I also met one of the princesses, and we kinda hit it off and we were pen pals for a long time after that.”

The most interesting part about the man who has traveled the world is that his first time on a plane was on his trip to the PONY League World Series.

“When we flew here from Los Angeles, it was my first plane ride ever. We flew here on a 747, and I will never forget that.”

When he arrived in Washington today and saw the field, he noted that it didn’t look the same at all, but the atmosphere was almost identical to how it had been when he played on the same field.

“It feels like the same. It’s like when you go back and see the home you were raised in. Everything seems smaller,” said Arnold. “You see the smiles on the fans' faces and that’s the same, that hasn’t changed.” 

The experiences that Arnold has had are enough for an entire novel, and everything he shared was only a small glimpse of the amazing career he has built for himself.

“I’ve had opportunities that people only dream of. Baseball has provided me with an amazing life. I don’t want to die now, but if I were to die tomorrow, I would die a happy man.”

For someone that baseball has given so much to, Arnold always pays homage to the sport and its greatness.

“Baseball is the greatest sport. There are some people that don’t care for baseball, but I think they don’t understand it enough. I always compare it to chess. Everyone knows that the horse piece goes up and over but they don't understand the strategy involved in it. Baseball is a lot like that. People know that players run around the bases and if you hit it over the fence, it’s a homerun. But when you really get to understand the strategy of the game and skill and technique that the players have, the better it gets.”

Although he is originally from California, Arnold now lives with his wife and labrador retriever in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. He has two sons and a stepdaughter.

He was honored before the bottom half of the sixth inning of Game 4 between Washington County, PA and London, UK on the field by PONY President, Abraham Key.

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