Secrets of the hot corner

Updated: May 10, 2004, 10:45 AM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
Scott Rolen wasn't born to play third base. It only looks that way.

At Jasper High School in Indiana, Rolen earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Georgia as a shooting guard. He also played almost everywhere but third base until his senior year.

"Normally you put your best athlete at shortstop, and he was definitely our best athlete," said Terry Gobert, Jasper coach. "But Scott pitched too, and I don't like using my shortstop as a pitcher, because it's tough on the kid's arm. That's why we moved him to third. I caught a lot of hell from people for that."

In the summer of 1993, dozens of scouts showed up at Jasper games to watch Rolen and fantasize about his future. Some days Gobert would stand at the foul line with a fungo bat pre-game and hit the ball as hard as he possibly could in an attempt to get it past Rolen. Except for the odd laser shot at the kid's ankles, nothing made it through.

Eleven years, two All-Star Game appearances, five Gold Gloves and a bunch of Mike Schmidt comparisons later, Rolen is redefining the position. While Oakland's Eric Chavez is superb, some baseball personnel people consider Rolen the most talented player ever at third base.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer