By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
This is a rare story that very few of us can associate with. That’s what makes it so special. Scott Bibee has been a member of the SoCal MSBL for more than 20 years, which in itself is a worthy accomplishment. But there is another membership that takes center stage here. Scott’s son, Tanner, is now a member of the Cleveland Guardians! Tanner’s debut in the ‘Show’ came on April 26th of this year.
“In an April 26 start against the Rockies, Bibee became the first Cleveland pitcher since at least 1920 to strike out five batters in a row in his MLB debut, a 4-1 victory.”
Shortly thereafter, Yankee Stadium was the venue on May 2nd. Below is a highlight video of that outing:
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The proud daddy, Scott, is a premier MSBL player in his own right.
“I started playing in MSBL in 1999 and played all the way up until the year before covid,” explained Scott. “When covid hit I was the pitching coach at Tanner’s high school and threw batting practice and was getting plenty of practice and staying in shape. I was 51 when covid hit and was just working half-time in the auto glass business and I could barely run anymore so I gave up playing. Tanner was then in college (Cal State Fullerton) so I chose to watch him instead of play. My wife has been like the wife of a professional ball player with both Tanner and me always playing or working out, so now it is her time. I am done playing and we can now concentrate on following Tanner’s career.”
Scott was a steady performer in the SoCal MSBL and a member of the tournament powerhouse OC Sox at the MSBL World Series and elsewhere.
“I was a pitcher and also played first and third and went to Arizona (MSBL World Series) for about 20 years. I played alongside some great guys in Jim Esposito and Jim Carver and we were rivals with the So Cal Blue Jays. We beat the heck out of each other in the league and in Arizona but it was a great rivalry. I kept trying to avoid them by going up to an older division but they would always follow! I couldn’t avoid them.”
We eventually got around to some meat and potatoes questions that only a dad could answer after his son made it to the top of the mountain.
When did you see that Tanner had something special?
“I’ve always known. The ongoing joke in the family was ‘You told us back when he was six that he would be a pro.’ Realistically, I knew when he was 10, 11, 12 years old that he could pitch. He could really throw strikes. The velocity wasn’t there yet but I wanted him to be a pitcher first, hit his spots, and have control, and then the velocity would come. It worked out just that way. He now hits high 90’s.”
Cal State Fullerton is a superpower in the college ranks. How did Tanner enjoy the spotlight there?
“He never really cared about starting or closing so the coaches saw a useful piece of their puzzle. As a freshman, he landed the Sunday starter role, and then during one game at Stanford he got shelled and they put him in the bullpen to close. Later in the year, as fate would have it, he was a starter again and then faced Stanford again, he won, and they went to Super Regional. That was in 2018. Tanner pitched the championship of the Super Regionals and he came out leading 2-1 in the seventh inning but they lost in extras so he missed his one chance to pitch in Omaha.”
Tanner’s rise to the Major Leagues was meteoric. He pitched in college in 2021, went through A and AA in Akron, then to Columbus in AAA at the beginning of 2023, and then off to Cleveland by April. Below is a snapshot of Tanner’s pitching career while flying up the ladder:
What was it like seeing your son on a Major League mound for the first time?
“We went to Cleveland for his debut and he did great. Then we decided to go to New York the following weekend. He had a really good outing, but Judge (Aaron) was injured. Tanner really wanted to face him. One amazing feat that flew under the radar is that in Cleveland he faced Ohtani and struck him out twice.”
Are there any special influences in the Cleveland clubhouse?
“Tanner likes Shane Bieber a lot. He enjoys talking with him and is learning how to be a professional pitcher. They are pretty much the same kind of pitcher and Shane is from the same area in California. They are naturally becoming close, which is wonderful. Shane is becoming a great influence, in and out of the clubhouse.”
A little-known fact is that Scott was an extra in the Billy Crystal movie ‘61’. How did that come about?
“Steve Sigler arranged for a tryout with Billy so that MSBL players could represent the Yankees in the movie. There was a tryout and I made the cut. In the movie, when Roger Maris hits his 53rd home run, I am the guy clapping in the dugout. My bit part took up the whole screen!”
Are there any final thoughts about MSBL or being the proud papa of a son who is a major league pitcher?
“MSBL was a big part of Tanner’s growth as well. He was always in the dugouts with us, doing scorebooks, and I always told him he could learn from the MSBL guys, which included ex-pros and guys who didn’t make it. Those guys had to go through injury problems or stupid mistakes and learn the things not to do.
I can truly say that MSBL positively affected both of our lives dramatically. Thank you for being a major part of the journey.”
As of Saturday, June 10th, here are Tanner’s impressive Major League stats for the Guardians:
Please enjoy the scrapbook of Tanner’s baseball life below.